Photo by Katherine Harris
The next chapter for the Twin Cities’ fashion community is unfolding at Lake and Lyndale. And if you’ve only been skimming the surface of the local scene, now is the time to take note.
Showroom features the work of independent fashion, jewelry, accessories, fine art, and furniture designers. It’s a boutique, but that doesn’t do the concept full justice. Creators Kimberly Jurek and Jennifer Chilstrom, who also co-design women’s fashion label Kjurek, call Showroom a “professional space.”
“We don’t want designers having to meet clients at a coffee shop to sell them a $500 item,” Jurek says. “We’re trying to elevate the independent design community.”
Showroom features designers at various stages of career development, from established lines that have sold nationally, like Foat Design, the eco-friendly activewear and women’s fashion line by sisters Kaja Foat and Zoë Foat Naselaris, to Tessa Louise, a new knitwear line from Tessa Druley, a graduate of the apparel design program at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design. Currently, 21 artists and designers are represented. Jurek says she and Chilstrom are looking for menswear and intimate apparel designers to round out the mix. They’ve been meeting with local design schools as well as organizers from MNfashion, the group that nurtures and supports independent designers who are trying to make a living off their craft.
A sure sign of how far they’ve come since the days of fashion shows that led to parties rather than retail orders: Showroom has space behind the clothing racks and jewelry cases where designers can meet with clients, retailers, and investors. “It’s space to make things happen,” says Jurek, who knows firsthand how challenging it can be to turn a few blouses and skirts into a viable business without the backing of a big company.
Designers on display pay rent at Showroom or help staff the shop, and in return they collect full retail for their work, rather than having to pay a commission or consignment as they would in most commercial settings. “It creates more profitable opportunities for their brands,” Chilstrom says.
But none of that matters without customers. The biggest compliment that can be paid to Showroom is that it looks and feels like a true boutique—which is to say the merchandise is compelling, even before you know it’s all locally made. Racks, organized by color and style, allow the brands to mingle. Whether it’s a special occasion dress or an asymmetrical tank top, these are pieces that could hold their own among national brands. Hems are finished; labels are affixed. The participating designers mean business about fashion, and we’re lucky for the chance to shop them first.
615 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-345-7391, showroommpls.com —A. K.