This month, the eclectic and insanely fashion forward crew of Portland’s Solestruck celebrated their first anniversary of the flagship store with an epic bash. The installation and party, entitled Déjà Vu, was reminiscent of a 90’s rave, overtaking a warehouse underneath the Fremont Bridge. While DJ’s played, designers, photographers, bloggers, drag queens and pretty people in general strutted in killer (sometimes literally) shoes while mingling as Q6 models stood under purple lights showcasing looks from designers Hello Eliza, Esque by Leslie Pennel, Degen, Stolen Girlfriend's Club, and Brady Lange.
An untraditional display of fashion, but then, Solestruck is anything but traditional. The looks peaked with the bold black and white mixed with cognac collection Esque by Leslie Pennel. The trumpet skirts and leather peplum tops sent a message that “This girl is cool” while remaining accessible and just downright pretty. With the crowd in the room, it all made sense.
As Yacht played an entrancing set, the mish-mash of stylish people swayed under the colored lights and models danced in beautiful, crazy shoes, I caught myself remembering a time nearly three years ago wandering into the original Solestruck in the Pearl District that was not unlike most basic shoe stores. In an effort to understand the massive facelift, the company has undergone and its devoted fan base (over 100,000 Facebook fans), I caught up with Ty McBride the Creative Director/Brand Manager (who appears to be a chic cruise director at all the Solestruck parties among the obviously tight knit small staff), to find out how this fashion flower bloomed.
Eden Dawn: When did Solestruck actually begin?
Ty McBride: Our brick and mortar store just celebrated its 3rd birthday, but its first year in its new space – and as its role as our National Flagship Store. We started the store in the Pearl in 2009 as a two-month pop up. We never closed it. After a year and a half, we decided we needed to do it right. We wanted our retail space to offer a similar shopping experience as the site. Our site has been going strong for 8 years. We started in 2004, and the experience has been insane. It's been a continual evolution--but always staying true to our goal, "To Rid the World of Ugly Shoes One Pair at a Time."
E.D: Last year seems particularly pivotal in the company, what’s the growth been like?
T.M: Our growth for 2012 has been steady. With a new face to our retail store--we have seen increased visibility in our local market. Our store is an exercise in brand identity. We realize not EVERY style we sell is perfect for the Portland Market---but then again, maybe it is, and Portland just doesn't know yet! Our web site has continued to take shape in 2012. We have added over 20 new brands and small collaborations. As we grow it is important for us to keep clear our vision, to continually search out new brands, fresh product and new partnerships. 2012 has been a year of pushing and growing across the board---and it's just October!
E.D: How many countries are you sold in now?
T.M: We have currently shipped to 138 countries. In 2012, we have only sold one order to The Maldives, but we hope to get another one before we wrap up the year.
E.D: Why did you choose the designers you did for Déjà Vu?
T.M: The creative team here at Solestruck carefully selected designers, both locally and globally that we felt paired well with our vision, our style. We are huge believers in networking and all the designers we used come from our larger network. It's great to celebrate the work of people you know and admire. We think a Portland "fashion week" should be fun, outside the box, new and with a unique perspective. This is never going to be NYFW, so we wanted to partner with designers that also embody that feeling of fun and shock. Our Déjà Vu event was a celebration--I think our guests got the party vibe for sure. At Solestruck, we are obsessed with so many things---and one of those things is hosting events. We love bringing it under one roof, locking the doors, and well, having a kiki with our fans!
E.D: As the company blows up, why does Portland still make sense as it's home?
T.M: Portland is our home! It works financially, logistically, and talent wise where staff is concerned. Portland is known in the shoe industry as a West Coast hub and while we are the smallest of those footwear players, we love being from here, and bringing our voice to the local market. Our local Portland clients are just as loyal, repeat and insane as our online client base. We live for our clients---we do this for them.
E.D: What's the biggest accomplishment of 2012 and the biggest goal for 2013?
T.M: In 2012, we saw many things click internally. Our many teams really came into themselves and we all worked a lot to make 2012 amazing. We have amazing employees! We published our first ‘Zine in 2012, outgrew our office space, and welcomed new brands we had been chasing--these were all great feelings. I think the overall feeling around the office for 2012 is kind of like..."Yep, we owned you!"
In 2013 you can expect some surprises and a few wow moments from Solestruck. We are working hard to finalize new brand offerings, and are really working to pump up the level of exclusivity on the site. Lots of limited edition runs, fun exclusive colors, and collabs. If you are here in Portland, I suggest you get on our stores email list! We are lining up insane pop-ups, partnerships, and in store events that will make even the most serious of shoe addicts squeal with delight!
417 SW 13TH AVE.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Phone: (503) 224-3591