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Portland with Lindsey Reif

Story by Rachel Schwartzmann – Shop REIFhaus – Photos by Nicholas Peter Wilson for The Style Line

“Portland is a great place to launch a creative business

in many ways, but in regards to the fashion industry it’s also more difficult,” says fashion designer Lindsey Reif. “For example, Portland doesn’t have the industry infrastructure that cities like LA and New York have, but that’s also what makes being a designer here special.” With today’s Neighborhood Story in mind, which features Lindsey’s curated guide to Portland, this particular city is a place that we’ve also come to know as being truly special in many regards.

In our past stories, we’ve explored what it takes to make it in the city’s (current) small business/fashion landscape and we’ve come to find that community is at the root of our interviewee’s continued success – Lindsey also agrees and as she mentioned in our interview below: “I feel very fortunate to have started my business in Portland, and I attribute a lot of my success to having a supportive community around me.”

Speaking more to this idea, we wanted to further get to know Lindsey’s story and how embracing Portland’s creative people (and places!) has helped shape her budding fashion brand. In this feature, you’ll find our full interview with Lindsey featuring her background, thoughts on collaboration, and her go-to places around the city that constantly inspire her. Discover it all below featuring beautiful moments from our time with Lindsey captured by Nicholas Peter Wilson for The Style Line.

*THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2016 AND REFLECTS UPDATED CHANGES TO THE LAYOUT

Hi, I’m Lindsey!

I am originally from the Black Hills of South Dakota, but I’ve been living and working in Portland, Oregon for the past 14 years.  I currently live in NE Portland with my partner, Evan, a dog named Bunny, and a very fluffy Persian cat named Ramona. When I’m not working, I try to get out of town, and our weekends tend to be filled with camping, hiking, and trying to visit as many natural hot springs as possible.  Evan and I work collaboratively on  the photography for REIFhaus, so there isn’t a lot of separation between work and personal life. My line is very much an extension of who I am as a person, so my professional and personal life are basically one in the same.

Talk to us about your relationship to fashion. How did it lead to launching your eponymous label an why do you think Portland is one of the best places to foster an emerging/independent brand? 

My journey into the fashion industry came about very organically. I taught myself how to sew when I first moved to Portland and began repurposing and refitting vintage pieces. I’ve always been an avid vintage collector, and I am heavily inspired by the subtle details found in vintage pieces that are no longer found in factory made clothing. From there I began to learn to make patterns of my own, and worked as a production sewer for other Portland designers before launching my line in 2010. I’m completely self-taught, so the first few years of the line were a lot of experimentation and finding my voice. Three years ago I decided to take the plunge and pursue REIFhaus full time. Portland is a great place to launch a creative business in many ways, but in regards to the fashion industry it’s also more difficult. For example, Portland doesn’t have the industry infrastructure that cities like LA and New York have, but that’s also what makes being a designer here special.  I think being limited in resources can sometimes be more freeing from a design stand point – when you’re not living by the rules of how things have always been done or should be done, that’s when you can really step outside the box and do things differently. We are hustlers here, because we have to be in order to stand out and be competitive, and that spirit has led to a really amazing community of designers and makers. I feel very fortunate to have started my business in Portland, and I attribute a lot of my success to having a supportive community around me.

How do you celebrate personal style?

I believe that women should wear what makes them feel comfortable and confident. That might mean dressing outside of what society or fashion trends tells us we should be wearing, but to me there is nothing more chic than a woman with her own individual sense of style.

What is one question you wish people asked you more often? 

Would you like some pizza?  The answer will always be yes.

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Lovejoy Fountain

Address: 1990 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

“I love coming here because of the juxtaposition between the geometric structure and tranquility of the water.  The fountain was turned off on this particular day, but that let us see all the amazing colors and textures on the walls of the fountain that otherwise would be hidden.  Plus, the view of Mt. Hood from the fountain is incredible.”

Shop Lindsey’s Look: REIFhaus Grete culotte pant $272, REIFhaus Porto Tunic in denim $236, Vintage heels

“Portland is a great place to launch a creative business in many ways, but in regards to the fashion industry it’s also more difficult.”

Portland is known for its unique quirks and collaborative spirit, but what else do you think is important for people to know about this obviously thriving and creative city? How would you like to see it evolve? 

Portland is experiencing a lot of growth right now, and many people have mixed feelings about that.
On one hand, growth means more people with an interest in supporting the work of creatives and that is a positive.  However, I hope that as the city grows we can find a balance between supporting the needs of the creatives who have made the city special. Buildings that have long been home to creative artist studios are being torn down in the name of progress and high priced condos, and while we aren’t the first city this has happened in by any means, I hope Portland can retain some of that creative glimmer that attracted so many of us here in the first place.

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WM Goods

Address: 1136 SW Alder St, Portland, OR 97205)

“I love this shop because they have something for everyone.  I also love the huge windows and the secret sitting area complete with a fireplace.”
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Shop Lindsey’s Look: REIFhaus Lou Jumpsuit $286, REIFhaus Ripple Sweater $228, REIFhaus Yoko Jacket $324, Vintage mules

“We are hustlers here, because we have to be in order to stand out and be competitive, and that spirit has led to a really amazing community…”

As a fashion designer what would you say are some of the benefits of living and working on the west coast and with regard to Portland what are some resources you’ve discovered that are helpful to local designers and makers?

I’ve travelled up and down the west coast in my time living here, and there’s always something interesting and different to see.  The desert of Southern California is a stark contrast to the rainy Pacific Northwest, I love the variety of climates, cultures, and urban areas found here.  Also, the coffee.  We have amazing coffee here, and that is a necessity for me. In regards to Portland, there are lots of great resources for creatives to learn skills and foster community.  For example, I’m taking a machine knitting class right now from Wildcraft Studio, and I can’t wait to take some of their other workshops including dyeing, weaving, and sandal making.  I love learning new skills because they help inform my creative process.

From an insider’s point of view what are some things people should be aware of when visiting a city like Portland?

To get a true sense of Portland, stay in the neighborhoods and live like a Portlander.  The Eastside is great, there are so many amazing restaurants, bars, and shops to explore.  As a general rule of thumb, I would say avoid the places that have lots of hype and long lines. We are so lucky here to have so much natural beauty at our doorstep.  Take a day trip to Mt. Hood, the Oregon Coast, or the Columbia River Gorge.

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Luce

Address: 2140 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

“This is one of my favorite restaurants in Portland for a quick lunch or date night.  I love the low key, European feel, and the food is always so good.  They have an amazing grocery section, too, full of high quality staples displayed beautifully.”

Shop Lindsey’s Look: REIFhaus Ramona Wrap Jumpsuit $324, Intentionally Blank Harper boot $250, Rachel Comey striped socks (Similar, $41)

“I feel very fortunate to have started my business in Portland, and I attribute a lot of my success to having a supportive community around me.”

How would you advise the next generation of creative thinkers/makers/designers to leave an imprint in the world simply by doing what they love? 

My advice is that you just have to stay true to yourself and your vision, if it doesn’t take off over night that’s okay, stay the course and know that things take time.  Don’t let other people’s opinions derail you, or the pressure to keep up with trends shift your focus.  Hard work pays off, and no one can take away your passion and dedication for what you love.