this city is my city

After complimenting me on my hat, one of my favorite bartenders at Mr. Smith’s—right around the corner from our apartment—commented “Goorin Brothers, right? Their main offices are just around the corner from here; the staff come in a lot.” My jaw dropped. One of my favorite companies? Right in my neighborhood? I immediately googled for goorin bros careers on my smartphone, and sure enough they are hiring for two positions I’d be perfect for: an ecommerce marketing manager and a ui/ux designer. I love Goorin, and I love their employees: every time I’m in a shop I come out in a fantastic mood—and often with a new hat or cap. The sales staff is one of the most passionate, knowledgeable, and dedicated in retail.

I could work in fashion. One of the most exciting things about moving to San Francisco is the ability to choose my industry. And to tell recruiters that no, I’m not interested in working for a giant financial services conglomerate. I can do work I’m passionate about for a company I’m passionate about: I could work for Open Table! Or Foodspotting! Or One King’s Lane! I could reinvent books at Inkling or Madefire! I could work for a social media company. Or a gaming company. Or I could work in the fashion industry.

On my birthday, I attended a Women Who Code “lightning talk” event: short tech talks of 3-5 minutes in length. Two of the speakers worked for Modcloth. Modcloth! My favorite online store. In the general milling around after the event, I approached one of them. And I did the most gauche thing you can do at an industry event. Given that a major, and recurring, topic of the evening had been that women need to tough up and ask outright for what they want, I felt comfortable marching right up to one of the speakers and saying, “You work at Modcloth! I love Modcloth! How do I work there?” A breadcrumb trail of names and introductions later, I scheduled a coffee chat with one of their lead UX women before I went to bed that night.

I was walking to the art supply store to pick up a sketchbook, when I saw a large, full-color photo placard in a shop window. I stopped dead. My first thought was, “I have to get my hands on that clothing.” My second thought was “I have to work there.” A quick visit to their web site convinced me that the second of these was the more important need, so I shot over a resume and cover letter the same day. Their early 20th century aesthetic matches up with my desire to wear all the men’s hats and shoes from Boardwalk Empire—and all the ladies’ garments from Mad Men.

A position at Everlane dropped into my inbox. I had signed up for their beta way back in August of last year, before their public launch and before they’d sold a single item. They are making beautifully-designed, intelligently-produced elegant clothing to sell directly to customers online: no stores, no middlemen, factory to closet. Their web presence is their brand; I would adore being part of presenting them to the world.

Then there’s American Giant, founded by a startup veteran who wondered why he couldn’t buy anything of comparable quality to his grandfather’s WWII-era Navy sweatshirt—which he still wears. He based his process on agile software development and rapid iteration, and was able to replicate that quality at a relatively midrange pricepoint, and produce garments in the USA: in South San Francisco.

There is Tomboy Tailors: bespoke and custom-tailored menswear for women. Their target audience is genderqueer—butch lesbians and transmen—but I am a straight femmey lady (and staunch ally!) who absolutely must own a perfectly-tailored tuxedo. Think Babette from Boardwalk Empire. Think Marlene.

There is Curator. I’ve been buying their perfect cotton jersey dresses off the web for years. The first time, I stressed over a three-figure pricetag for such a simple garment. But it filled a major hole in my wardrobe. And I ended up wearing it sometimes 3-4 times a week that first summer: changing into it after work, to BBQs, sitting out on the patios of my favorite bars on sunshiny days, to family parties, even as a bathing suit coverup. The cost-per-wear was less than a dollar within just a few months. I still haven’t made it to their storefront down in Noe Valley, but it is a priority. And will be a pilgrimage.

And let’s not forget Kim Taylor’s Shonova. From what I gather, they provide a service that I am extremely famous for within my circle of friends: I will be invited over to build outfits. “Come into my closet!”, my girl friends beg me. And I pair skirts with tops and belts with dresses to create outfits that they love and would never have assembled on their own, revitalizing old pieces and working in new things they just bought but couldn’t figure out how to wear.

I could work in fashion: San Francisco, at the moment, has a thriving industry of high-quality clothing manufacturing, bespoke fashion, tailoring, and style creators. I am SO EXCITED about this. This city is doing for clothing what Pollan and Bittman did for food. Beyond the of-the-moment indie businesses, the world headquarters of major players like Gap (Banana Republic, Old Navy), Levis, and American Apparel are all here. One of the first recruiter calls I got after posting my resume was regarding a company called Trumaker, which designs and sells custom-made men’s apparel. I didn’t really get it at the time: I could really work in fashion.

 

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