SEATTLE — Although this city may be better known as the cradle of the now-defunct grunge, it has long been a hotbed of accessories designers whose works range from the traditional to the outrageous. Here, three designers offer their own interpretations of Seattle style.
In 1967, San Francisco’s Summer of Love, Michael Green was selling handmade sandals and leather goods in Haight-Ashbury. Today, his Seattle factory produces 400 to 500 leather bags a month, from passport pouches to handbags and briefcases, for accounts such as Nordstrom, Biagio and Delta Airlines, for which he makes flight attendants’ handbags. The average wholesale price is $70, and annual sales are $500,000.
Green, a native of Hewlett, Long Island, where he went to high school with Donna Karan, attended the Fashion Institute of Technology for two years before heading to the West Coast.
The self-described former hippie calls his look “clean, simple, functional. It’s a bag for an American woman, whether she’s wearing blue jeans or a pair of slacks and a blazer. I use a structured leather — firm but not stiff — so that my bags have a crisp, tailored silhouette. Our leather has a high shine, which adds to that tailored look.”
Wayne Wichern grew up on a farm in Cody, Wyoming, which he admits is “a strange place for a hatmaker to come from.” After taking courses in floral design at Seattle Community College and working as a dancer in New York, he returned to Seattle to oversee fashion displays at the Frederick & Nelson department store.
A full-time milliner since 1991, the 37-year-old Wichern does custom work, in addition to selling Barneys New York’s Seattle store, and boutiques in Seattle, Detroit, California and upstate New York. He produces 12-15 styles a season, mostly velour or felt, and sales last year were about $40,000, “a big jump from the year before.”
Wichern describes his look as “clean; a bit on the fashion edge; not particularly safe. My visor caps, for example, require someone who is assertive and aggressive.”
ROBIN DE VICK
Robin de Vick describes her handpainted scarfs and vests as “whimsical and fun. For fall, we did a scarf for Barneys that had tractors and a big barn.”
The Seattle native, who has a fine arts degree from the University of Washington, has been “making a living” in design for four years. She and her assistants produce about 300 vests and 100 scarfs a season. Vests wholesale for about $65; scarfs, $45 to $80, and last year’s sales were $115,000.
De Vick’s accounts include Henri Bendel, Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Searle and Nordstrom, and she is represented in New York by D.P. Accessories. For fall, de Vick is expanding her line to include dresses and skirts, and home furnishings.