DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
BIRD CITY State of Mind
Designed by Joseph “Sentrock” Perez and released by Bunky Boutique
Releasing Saturday April 26 in-store. Pre-order online now (shipping week of April 28th).
Joseph “Sentrock” Perez is an artist originally from Phoenix, AZ. He moved to Chicago to obtain a Bachelors of Art & Design at Columbia College Known for using bright colors, intense lettering and characters that grab the attention of the viewer, Sentrock is a believer in the quote ”Art cannot deny the environment that it is in.”
Q&A with Sentrock:
- What does the BIRD CITY design represent?
BIRD CITY is a nickname for Phoenix. The city of birds, the Phoenix bird. A Bird City State of Mind is all about progression and going higher. The character is a kid looking upward with a bird mask. The bird mask is to show a desire to fly, to reach for the sky. It captures a youthfulness and ambitious characteristic.
- Why did you want to work with Bunky?
When I first started making trips to downtown, Bunky was one of the only shops around that had artists involved and gave me an opportunity to show work at their very first location. I would often shop at the store and they own a few original paintings of mine. This relationship comes from a mutual respect for each others taste in art and fashion. For us to come together and present this project is extremely exciting and a long time coming.
Q&A with Jim Malloy from Bunky
- What does Sent’s art means to you?
His themes of hope and embracing the struggle of day to day life have always resonated with me. Sent is maybe the most important young painter to come from Phoenix and his move to Chicago has only made him a more well-rounded and expressive artist.
- Why did you want Bunky Boutique to do a collaboration with Sent?
Sent’s work is representative of the people of Phoenix and Bunky represents Phoenix fashion, so it’s a perfect marriage. Sent has been a Bunky supporter since the beginning and our relationship has grown over the years from customer to friend to collaborator. Working with him on this collection has been an honor.
BIRDCITY STATE OF MIND
Available in black, white, and vintage blue.
Standard tees $30
Premium tees $36
While Melrose District staple Retro Ranch has fans that spread well beyond the downtown community, locals and tourists alike had to visit the store in person to see the ever-changing goods on hand. But now, despite its vintage status, Retro Ranch has launched a seemingly anachronistic online presence to make a name for itself in 2014.
At the beginning of the year, the store launched an Instagram account to attract the social-media savvy crowd with curated visuals. The store has also recently launched an Etsy shop, bringing online shopping to those who are searching near and far for the best from Phoenix’s past.
Formerly called Retro Redux, Indigo Hunter acquired the store in 2009 when the previous owner retired. In addition to a slight name change, a few other updates have slowly made their way through the densely-packed aisles.
Michelle Eichenberger, a member of the Retro Ranch team, has helped bring a modern perspective to the vintage market.
“There’s no way to keep up with a business anymore if you don’t [use social media],” Eichenberger said. “That’s what makes it hard for the smaller, even more old-school places like us.”
Until recently the store did not even have a computer, so they are learning to manage old and new technologies. Caty Rushing, another team member, said they complete all business transactions by hand to stay true to the store’s vintage flair.
“It’s very bare bones, but it really works for us,” Rushing said. “And that’s why I think branching into the social media thing was kind of a big deal because it’s really heading into the more technical direction.”
One of the reasons they started posting merchandise on Instagram was of the app’s straightforward approach to displaying merchandise, thus making it more accessible for customers. Many have already purchased items they saw on the account.
“That’s the whole point of stores putting their merchandise on that [social media]. As soon as you see it, you want to go and buy it,” Eichenberger said.
The variety of Retro Ranch gives the store another advantage over other stores that sell vintage or antiques, but the obstacle is finding a way to effectively communicate what it offers.
“We’re an antique store, but we’re kind of focused on antiques that younger people are interested in,” Hunter said. “We don’t work with a lot of the much older pieces. Reaching those [younger] people are online a lot.”
In merging the old and the new, Retro Ranch has partnered with local record store Stinkweeds, which provides a listening station at the front of the store where customers can listen and purchase music handpicked by the Stinkweeds staff.
Dario Miranda, a sales associate at Stinkweeds, said there needs to be a balance between traditional and modern selling practices.
“There’s a trick to it with the social media,” Miranda said. “You could be a robot online or show that your establishment has a personality, and that’s what you’re trying to sell.”
While it can be easy to lose the vintage essence in modern platforms, staff members from both Retro Ranch and Stinkweeds said they maintain the retro vibe of the store through the language and presentation.
“I think it’s almost like a preservation of the past, of the town, of the city,” Rushing said. “I feel like it’s a way for things to be re-purposed—for things to be re-appreciated and brought back into the community.”
Despite the continuously changing business model, the Retro Ranch team strives to leave customers with a taste of the past whether it is in the store or online.
“The challenge isn’t getting people in the door, it’s keeping up with technology,” Hunter said. “We want to make it more known.”
For spring 2014, Phoenix Fashion Week is making a downtown debut. Spring Into Fashion is one of the organization’s regular quarterly events, used to “build momentum” in anticipation of October’s fashion week, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, according to Executive Director Brian Hill.
Spurred by conversations with Mayor Stanton earlier this winter, Hill and his team “shared the vision of fashion week, what we’ve accomplished, our feature in Time magazine last fall, and how we’re putting Phoenix fashion on the map. The mayor communicated that he’d like to get us more involved with downtown events,” the first of which is this spring trend report at Arizona Center on Friday, March 28.
Friday’s runway show is a first not only for Phoenix Fashion Week, but also for the Arizona Center. Hill believes that “to find that location is a gem. No one has ever done a fashion show in this space before, and I think a lot of people are going to want to after this. The greenscape, the length of the runway, it’s really unique.”
Over 300 attendees will be treated to both men’s and women’s spring fashions.
“From a male standpoint, the trend is ‘men are getting dressed up.’ It is definitely the season of the gentleman,” says Hill.
Other featured trends are denim; black and white pairings; skinny pleats, seen in long, flowing skirts; pink in all its various shades; and mixing but not matching—change up the colors of your accessories, contrast them for an eye-catching pop.
While Spring Into Fashion is moving into the heart of Phoenix’s business district, don’t expect pantsuits and pumps. For Hill, downtown fashion is an amalgam of styles. “It’s upscale, it’s street chic, it’s urban, it’s all those kind of rolled into one. On any given day, you’ll see someone dressed completely preppy, dressed couture, you’ll see someone dressed in a national retailer like Michael Kors. You’ll see the whole spectrum downtown.”
Noting that both the Arizona Center and CityScape cater to “traditional retailers,” Hill says that “coupled with national retailers downtown, you have more of an independent or indie designer feel based downtown.”
But that is not to say that the fashion elite is turning its back on the core population who walks these downtown streets on a daily basis.
“Downtown-based students to downtown-based business people are going to come out and realize I can walk right from my office to this event downtown. We’re excited about attracting the business district here.”
If You Go
Event: Spring Into Fashion
Where: Arizona Center, 400 E Van Buren St
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014
Time: Doors open at 7 p.m. Meet the designers, stylists, media and attendees, 7 to 8 p.m.; Fashion Show, 8:30 p.m.; After Party at 1130 The Restaurant, 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: Visit http://springintofashion2014.
Photos courtesy of Dan Tabar Photography
When he came up with the idea for Lawless Denim & Co. about three years ago, CEO Roman Acevedo found it a daunting task to find people skilled in sewing and leather making. But with the store’s addition of the first draper loom west of the Mississippi, he can maintain the unique quality and authentic vintage essence of the jeans, while partnering with the Arizona Opportunities Industrialization Center to train people in the industry.
The 3,500-pound machine is a piece of history, originating from Pennsylvania during World War II. Bringing this sought-after, 80-year-old loom into the store on February 4th was not a small feat (it required a forklift), but there are a number of benefits it will bring for the business, its customers and the Phoenix economy.
“The loom that revolutionized the denim industry” will manufacture chambray, denim, canvas and more to speed up the production of jeans. Currently, Lawless sources its denim, which is made from pima cotton from Japan and North Carolina.
“My thought was, we’re an Arizona-based company creating our own jeans here, why not take it a step further and use the pima cotton that we grow in our own backyard and make our own denim?” said Acevedo.
In the next 30 to 45 days, he expects the loom to start producing denim, after having undergone extensive maintenance. Once it’s up and running, he will search for eight to 10 more vintage looms to place in the store, which only opened in October 2013.
“The only thing slowing us down is availability, said Acevedo. “They’re very hard to find.” This particular loom was the result of intense Internet research and making new contacts, which he hopes will prove valuable in his quest for more looms.
“It’s about creating that Arizona product with the very unique experience that every element done here is bespoke.”
“We could very easily charge four or five hundred dollars for a custom pair of jeans, but that’s not helping the economy. What helps the economy is people spending money, which in turn drives production, which in return creates jobs.”
In addition to the custom jeans ranging from $115 to $195, the store offers off-the-shelf jeans for $87, along with belts, denim shirts and a collection of leather products.
The store will offer customized dress shirts ranging from $85 to $145 with the option to choose the collar, cuff, fabric and monogram in the coming month.
The store’s next step in customization is nailing their own buttons made of Arizona copper and silver.
One of the most vital partnerships for Lawless has been with the Arizona OIC- a non-profit job-training program. Acevedo said he does not have the means to train people how to sew, while the OIC trains people in three-to-five month programs, teaching them the skills to work right away.
For Acevedo, creating jobs is his primary goal, and he said denim’s ageless quality couldn’t be a more fitting tool to achieve just that.
By maintaining valuable relationships with the city and the people within it, Lawless has seamlessly contributed to the growth, well-being, safety and style of people near and far with new additions and innovative ideas.
PinkCheeky strives to create locally made clothing so that there’s no need to sweat about the quality and manufacturing of the brand’s products. Some of the pieces the designer makes include yoga shorts, boyshorts and men’s boxer briefs.
Along with the trunk show, you can shop the boutique’s winter clearance and peruse through the new spring arrivals while listening to the tunes of DJ MR PHX.
Not only will you get to enjoy scoping out the cheeky fashions, but you might be lucky and score some goodies to take home with the giveaways and raffles.
Join in on the fun on Saturday, February 15 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
For more information, you can reach them at 602-252-1323 or visit them before the event at 1437 N. 1st St. Phoenix, AZ 85004.