When people talk about Bay Area style, they are most likely talking about Oakland. With Oakland’s rich and diverse sense of style, you’ll find its denizens sporting everything from high-end designer goods to funky looks pieced together from whatever’s on hand. These days, several Oakland-based designers are at the forefront of the slow-fashion movement, a movement that calls for conscious consumerism, reduced waste, and the use of natural fabrics. If you’re visiting Oakland and want to indulge in some retail therapy, and are also concerned with the effect fast fashion is having on our planet, check out these six local designers. 

Kosa Arts

PC: Kosa Arts

Located at 386 19th street (just a few blocks from the 19th Street BART station), this bright and welcoming storefront is home to designer Elaine Hamblin’s house line, Kosa, and also carries goods from other independent brands from all over the United States and the world. This Oakland-grown label is, as Hamblin says, named after the Sanskrit word for “cocoon,” and represents “the layers of our evolving selves and creative process as growth". For Hamblin, sustainability means “practices, lifestyle and livelihood that are both environmentally thoughtful and financially sound.” This includes developing pieces made from natural fibers, using plant-based dyes, and sourcing dead stock fabrics to produce her simple, flowing and versatile line of wide-sleeved crop tops, sheer dresses, tunics, and blouses, and oversized button downs. Hamblin says, “I have always loved the arts [in Oakland]… I wanted to have a place for Oakland to come shop that is local and inspiring.” Learn More About Kosa Arts

Field Day and Friends

Field Day
PC: Field Day

After stopping in Kosa, continue your journey up 19th  Street towards Lake Merritt with a visit to Field Day and Friends, at 329 19th Street. Designer Trinity Cross established the Oakland-based label in 2005, and followed up with a storefront in 2013. Cross, who caught everyone’s attention by making one-of-a-kind dresses from old bed sheets, continues to create fun and flirty designs you won’t find anywhere else, including dresses, pants, tops, skirts, and jumpsuits, priced with a budget in mind (most items are $150 or less). If you’re the kind of fashion enthusiast who loves having pieces that no one else will have, Field Day is the store for you. In addition to the Field Day house line, the shop also carries goods from like-minded designers and artisans from across North America, including everything from beauty products to intimate apparel. It will be hard to leave empty handed. For Cross, sustainability involves “being completely conscious about the impact you make,” and this extends to her work, as she uses recycled fabrics, deadstock, and make everything locally in Oakland. Per Cross, Field Day is all about making “timeless, impeccably crafted clothing from completely conscious materials that transcend trendy.” Learn More About Field Day and Friends

Only Child

Only Child
PC: Only Child

Haley Tucker and her Only Child Clothing line have become increasingly popular in the slow fashion community, and beyond. Tucker began her line by designing and sewing everything herself in her Lake Merritt studio apartment; in a few short years, production has grown to fill a space in Temescal. Using eco-friendly fabrics like raw silk, linen, and cotton, Tucker and her team craft simple and sophisticated dresses, airy blouses with just the right amount of drape, and on-trend wide-leg pants—and, should an item be discarded, these fabrics will return to the earth. Each piece is made to order, which is especially helpful in reducing waste—there’s no unsold product or wasted fabric. Committed to sustainability, Tucker understands that being aware of how our choices make a long-term environmental impact can be overwhelming, but “even small changes done by a lot of people adds up to a huge difference.” Only Child’s storefront is online, but you can request in-person try-ons by appointment at their workshop on Lowell Street. Learn More About Only Child

Gina DiGirolamo

Gina Di Girolamo
PC: Gina Di Girolamo

There’s beauty in simplicity, and Gina DiGirolamo gives evidence to this with the designs she creates through her eponymous clothing line. The Oakland-based designer crafts sophisticated dresses and outerwear that easily transition from the office to happy hour to your casual weekend plans. DiGirolamo says, “I'm drawn to timeless silhouettes. I try to make pieces that will hold up during their lifetime.” Keenly aware of the impact fabric waste has on our environment, DiGirolamo is an advocate of the “buy less, choose well” philosophy. She says, “Imagine keeping pieces in your wardrobe for 10+ years and buying fewer items during the year. It's one way to keep our landfills less full of clothing.” With this philosophy in mind, DiGirolamo is dedicated to using quality materials, and only produces a small run of each style. Although DiGirolamo closed her brick-and-mortar storefront in MacArthur Annex, she continues to live and work in Oakland; she says, “There's a lot of support for artists and craftspeople in this community.” And her online shop is open 24 hours a day. Learn More About Gina DiGirolamo

Mira Blackman

Mira Blackman
PC: Mira Blackman

Designer Mira Blackman’s story begins with an unexpected sighting while traveling abroad. Blackman always seemed to collect textiles from every place she traveled, but wouldn’t do much with them. While visiting Senegal, she spied a man riding his bike, a stack of blue textiles strapped to the back. She purchased a few cuts of this cloth, and was taken with their beauty; she says, “I could tell they were something special…these fabrics feel like a link to our history. To ancient ways of living and making.” Blackman’s pieces, constructed out of the uniquely dyed textiles and handmade in her Oakland studio, are unmistakable. In colors ranging from deep indigo (we might recognize it as “shibori”) to natural white, she sources fabrics that have been hand-spun and hand-dyed at the source, featuring patterns that likely have a special meaning, depending on where they were made. Her goods, including crop tops, dresses, tunics, jackets, and more include tassels and patchwork effects. Blackman tends to work with the flaws in the fabric and rarely uses sewing patterns—she lets the fabric speak for itself. Because of this, Blackman is able to reduce waste, and all the textiles she works with are eco-friendly. Blackman’s primary storefront is online, but her goods can be found at local boutiques like the aforementioned Kosa Arts, and Rare Bird on Piedmont Avenue. Learn More About Mira Blackman

Taylor Jay

Taylor Jay
PC: Taylor Jay

It’s difficult to pinpoint a single brand or designer that embodies Oakland style, but Taylor Jay, and her eponymous label come fairly close. It’s not a literal embodiment-- it’s more of a spiritual one, a vibe that speaks to ease and versatility, which is Oakland in a nutshell. Jay officially established her brand in 2014, and she continues to produce a line of soft, feminine basics that move easily between casual to formal, from traveling to lounging. Everything is produced locally in Oakland, and Jay and her team have a “no waste” policy; she says, “most of our fabrics are natural or environmentally friendly…we recycle most of our fabrics by making swimsuits, capes, and scarves.” Espousing the idea of “elevated comfort,” each piece embodies “fashion that can effortlessly transform to every woman’s needs, challenges, and style.” Jay produces a range of skirts, dresses, tops, and wraps, some of which can be worn multiple ways. And while the fashion industry at large is still working to improve inclusivity, Taylor Jay is also deeply committed to inclusion, especially in accommodating various sizes and body shapes. Learn More About Taylor Jay Collection


A Night On The Town - Group ShotOakland Style | Fashion & Designers

Oakland’s Style has always been influenced by its rich history, culture, and connection to music and art. Whether it’s the historical significance of a black beret or MC Hammer’s legendary parachute pants, Oakland has always used clothing to express a message. Explore Oakland's fashion scene through different themes showcasing unique styles and the messages they represent. Learn More