Phoenix isn't exactly known as a fashion hotspot. With our sunny climate, tourists and outsiders probably imagine residents all wear nothing but comfortable cotton shorts and flip-flops year round. Sigh. Local business owner and Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising graduate Shannon McRae aims to change that perception with Local Talent AZ, a new boutique on 5th Ave. in Scottsdale that carries clothing, jewelry, accessories and home goods made by local designers.
What's in the shop? On the low end, there are headbands and t-shirts for around $30. On the high end, there are gowns for over a grand. Fab finds include custom corsets by BriBridge (right), sushi print t-shirts, Rebecca Turley's vintage-inspired skirt with huge, modern pockets and Angela Johnson's "Inspired" recycled t-shirt gown.
Designers who sign up to showcase their wares at Local Talent AZ pay a flat monthly rate starting at about $200 and a 20% sales commission on items sold.
More on the store, plus expert fashion tips, after the jump.
McRae opened the boutique after seeing how many talented designers were forced to leave the Phoenix area due to a lack of opportunities -- even though Scottsdale is known for trendy boutiques and upscale retailers like Barney's New York. "It opens up a venue for local designers, so they can live here and enjoy the benefits of the Southwest without having to relocate to more mainstream fashion markets like California and New York," she explains.
It might seem risky to start a new business when the economy's
in the crapper so tumultuous, but McRae isn't stressing about the timing. "People budget differently and think differently and that's fantastic," she says, "but I'm not worried about the economy." Fashion-conscious types will always buy good clothes, even if it means buying less often and pinching pennies to save up for a splurge gown.
What fashion trends does McRae expect to hit the runways this fall? Before you start loading up on unflattering sack dresses or pleated pants just because they're big this season, she urges you to consider your body type first. "What should be 'in' is what looks good on us, not what you find all over the rack."
One of her pet peeves is the empire waist tops and dresses that have regained popularity in the past few years. "They make everyone, even skinny models, look pregnant," she quips. According to McRae, that was the empire waist's original purpose; because in the Middle Ages, women who looked preggers were considered more beautiful. So unless you have an actual bun cooking in your oven, ditch the empire waist. Now.
"It's frustrating to see women buy such things because they're being fashion followers," she says. "You can be a leader by buying clothes that look good on you and by being a little different." In fact, that's the first thing on her list of current fashion trends.