Visit: 404 SW 10th Ave OR 97205
Story by Rachel Schwartzmann – Shop Wildfang – Photos by Nicholas Peter Wilson
Let it be known: When you enter Portland-based store and cult favorite, Wildfang –
home to self-proclaimed tomboys, style mavens and adventure-seekers you’re getting anything but a “brand” experience. In fact the fearless women driving this revolutionary bandwagon are in the business of cultivating a true community that prides itself on courage, culture and simply having a good time – looking good while doing it is just the added bonus. “I’ve always loved how style and confidence are inextricably linked.” says Wildfang’s Taralyn Thuot who serves as the brand’s (affectionally known as band’s) Creative Director, “Someone can be extremely adventurous with their look, and if they are rocking it with confidence everyone around them admires their unique style.” With an inclusive attitude in both life and style, we found ourselves intrigued to learn more about Wildfang’s approach to community- building and product curation through a menswear lens, a market that is typically known for being niche.
Yet Tara and her team attribute their adoration for menswear for it’s versatility and it’s ability to serve as a solid foundation for any look, no matter one’s personal style. What struck us more was Wildfang’s unwavering mission to redefine tomboy style and truly showcase what importance it plays in both life and style. Today’s story speaks more to these themes as we had the incredible opportunity to chat with Tara in conjunction with the new store opening. Read on to learn more about her role at Wildfang, her thoughts on the Portland small business scene and what she hopes people takeaway from the Wildfang’s in-store experience. Also be sure to join them on October 1st, from 7-10PM at their west side opening located at: 404 SW 10th Avenue; and if you find yourself having any doubts, remember this: “If you are adventurous, bold, independent, fun, and break rules that are meant to be broken, then yeah! You are a tomboy…you are a Wildfang.”
I’m a Northwest native, born and raised in Seattle and now living in PDX;
However, I spent my 20s in Southern CA soaking up the sun and style of Los Angeles. These two combined cultures have really influenced who I am today….an outdoor adventurer who loves the thrill of hunting for the perfect vintage finds. Though I have replaced running Runyon Canyon with hiking the Columbia Gorge and strolling the killer LA flea markets with obsessively scouring PDX Goodwills.
How do you celebrate personal style?
I’ve always loved how style and confidence are inextricably linked. Someone can be extremely adventurous with their look, and if they are rocking it with confidence everyone around them admires their unique style. Conversely, I have also seen girls who never felt like they could express themselves through their wardrobe come through our store and completely transform when they are outfitted in a look that feels authentically them. I have seen first hand the boost in confidence when they look in the mirror and see something they love and relate to. Style is such a great vehicle for personal expression, so witnessing people hit their stride and find the confidence to be themselves is always so thrilling.
In the spirit of this month’s #TSLResolutions (which are all about getting back to the basics), how are you/Wildfang encouraging a simple approach to life and style?
The Wildfang aesthetic, both in store design and in our product/styling, has always been about simple, classic quality with hints of charm. I think this stems from our DNA of being a menswear inspired brand. Traditionally in men’s fashion it’s all about grounding your look in great fitting quality basics then layering on a cheeky piece or two that express your personal style.
What is one question you wish people asked you more often?
“Am I a tomboy?” And 9 out of 10 times the answer would be yes!! Tomboy is just as much about spirit as it is style. If you are adventurous, bold, independent, fun, and break rules that are meant to be broken, then yeah! You are a tomboy…you are a Wildfang.
What do you hope Wildfang contributes to the city of Portland as a whole?
Portland is such an entrepreneurial city. It celebrates ambition, creativity, and enterprise, and that has really helped fuel our success. Most start ups and small businesses here are food or tech related, and as a small fashion start up, I hope we are an inspiration to other local Portland designers and creatives that the demand is out there and to join us in the small business landscape.
How would you characterize the Wildfang community and in-store experience?
The first line of our manifesto sums it up, “Wildfang is not a brand. We are a band.” Wildfang IS our community. We hope that everyone that comes into our store is inducted into the WF fam and the in-store experience reflects this. We invite people to hang out on our swings, have a beer, and leave their mark on our 200 sq ft carving wall.
Talk to us about the collective personal style in Portland. How do you think the community’s personal style has influenced how you curate the store’s products?
One thing that is unique about our store’s assortment is that we carry both men’s and women’s products, but we don’t have a men’s and women’s section. I love that Portland is progressive enough to be comfortable with this shopping experience that eliminates gender from the conversation.
What would you say is always a part of the Wildfang uniform no matter how much the community’s style evolves?
The suit. A suit always has an occasion to be worn, even if that occasion is just waking up and wanting to look like a boss.
The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “the style line” in your wardrobe?
I love to challenge myself to marry function and fashion and be inspired by how others adapt to this modern necessity. Running around Portland in the rain, being on my feet all day styling a photoshoot, having one look that can transition from the office to a night out…all these dictate styling that does double duty as both cool and comfortable.