By  on July 28, 2009

As president and founder of the downtown showroom The News Inc., Stella Ishii is typically a behind-the-scenes kind of girl; her firm has long been an incubator of young talent such as Vena Cava’s Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai, Alexander Wang and Wayne’s Wayne Lee. Spring, however, marks the first time the fashion veteran — she spent 14 years at Comme des Garçons and previously helmed Staff USA — will launch her own collection. Still, Ishii notes, it’s anything but a solo project.

“Creative Growth for Everybody” is a collaboration between The News and Oakland’s Creative Growth Art Center, a nonprofit group that provides support for artists with disabilities. The debut lineup of cotton tanks, T-shirts and T-shirt dresses, priced $24 to $34 wholesale, will feature the artwork of eight of Creative Growth’s artists, from Donald Mitchell’s crowded cartoon figures to Aurie Ramirez’s fanciful dancing desserts. “The organization is a great place to see outsider art,” says Ishii. “We’re trying to get the exposure for them. The same way I represent my designers, I’m working with these artists.” Ishii, in fact, has long been a supporter of Creative Growth, ever since Paper magazine’s Kim Hastreiter clued her in a decade ago. In the early years, Ishii’s showroom even held a few outsider art exhibits of its own, including one for the famous Judith Scott, during the lull between market weeks.

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