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North Beach has a deliciously-seedy history of clothes-shedding. From the early days of corner brothels to the cutting edge of stripper co-ops, the neighborhood has long been known for the nudity happening behind closed doors. But the area has changed. Second-story brothels gave way to pricey apartments. San Francisco's Lusty Lady shimmied off Kearny when she could no longer afford her rent. And, last month, a group of artisans from the Oakland's 25th Street Collective opened Metis Makers, a Grant Avenue boutique aimed at —gasp!— keeping North Beach covered with knitwear, leather jackets and accessories.
The space is a joint retail venture from six Collective labels: Platinum Dirt, Scorpion Sisters, GhEttO GoLdiLocKs, O'Lover Hats, Myrrhia Fine Knitwear, and Gneiss Wood. The makers behind Metis Makers bill the shop as a sustainable fashion boutique specializing in locally-sourced, eco-conscious clothing and accessories.
But what does that mean? We dropped by the shop recently to chat with the Makers about the practices behind these green labels, and learned that most of the artisans incorporate found objects into their designs. O'Lover Hats designer Elwyn Crawford explained that her hand-blocked toppers are trimmed with found objects, feathers from sustainable farms, and ribbon from domestic producers. Michelle Threadgould and Margarita Lopez, better known as the Scorpion Sisters design duo, upcycle reclaimed materials into their handmade jewelry. Dustin Page, the Platinum Dirt mastermind, rips leather upholstery from junkyard cars to create bags, cuffs, leg warmers, and one-of-a-kind jackets.
The term "sustainable fashion" may conjure thoughts of craft fairs and the best of Regretsy, but these Bay Area designers are proving that it can also be chic. If the thought of "green" fashion secretly makes you shudder, Metis Makers might make you a believer.
· Metis Makers [Facebook]
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