Alex Lim

Define the word beauty.
Whatever is personally aesthetically pleasing. For myself, I’d probably have to use other singular words, such as Quality, Unique, Moving, or Heartfelt.

What does fashion mean to you?
Style you wear.

When did you decide to become a photographer?
I believe it was June 22, 2005.

When did you fall in love with photography?
Whoa whoa whoa… who said anything about love?!? I thought we were just messing around…?

Are you professionally trained? How did you learn your craft?

I’m professionally self-trained? I don’t really know what ‘professionally trained’ means. There are plenty of ‘professionals’ and ‘professional institutions’ (at least that’s what the card says), but I’d have to define it as otherwise. I learned (and learn) through trial and error, just like all the other monkeys.

What would you say is your specialty (beauty, fashion, editorial)?

Do you prefer shooting in a studio or outdoors with natural light?
Can I say shooting outdoors with non-natural light? But to answer, yes, anywhere other than studio is generally preferred.

Do you post process your photos, or prefer a more natural look?
I think it’d be weird if you didn’t do it every once in awhile, right? Right??

What do you shoot other than fashion?
The squirrels in my parents’ backyard are particularly photogenic. I’m not kidding. Better than some models.

Who are your influences?
We are influenced by both the good and bad I think. I’m not good at pulling up names, but you guys know who you are ;)

Who would you like to thank for your success?

What are your biggest personal/professional challenges that you face day to day?
Biggest personal challenge… to not be lazy. Biggest professional challenge… to not be lazy.

What has been your biggest professional achievement so far?
The fact that I’m still shooting.

What is the biggest mistake you have made with your business?
I don’t make mistakes! They’re… happy accidents.

What has been your most difficult job?
It was probably a project called the ‘Viet Model Project’ in LA. I’m pretty soft spoken and very non-self-congratulatory about my own work… but I have to say I worked MAGIC to bring together a shoot of 20 models, with 20 Different setups, using several male models as prop-age, to develop a concept/story on the spot, in a foreign city with virtually no resources, on a 95 degree sunny LA rooftop, with almost no help, all in about.. 5 hours total. I was fairly proud, not only did I pull it off, but I was packed up and out on time, with heatstroke, and time leftover for a ‘group shot’ at the end… And the producer never even paid me! Good stuff huh? Yea, don’t work with Van Pham. Douche dot com. Lesson learned. But it’s those types of jobs that condition you for the rest, which by comparison, are cake! Yum!

What are your inspirations, your dreams for your business?
I’m inspired by surprises. The things that for all rational thought should probably Not succeed or exist, but against odds they push forward to be different.

How do you see your business developing over the next couple of years?
I have rough goals, visions, fluid dreams… wait that sounds funny. I take things one step at a time. If I like the direction of the step I just made, I’ll take another. But maybe in a few steps, I’ll see a cuter, more attractive step off on the side.

What exciting things are on the horizon?
The future! and possibly clouds!
Oh, also, I’ll probably throw a new studio launch event for my pad in Sodo. Debating on whether to make it a networking mixer… versus a fashion show… versus a weird theme party… versus a giant duck, duck, goose game.

If you weren’t a photographer then what would you be?
A non-photographer. Probably homeless.

Which photographers currently working do you admire most?
I admire any Working photographer.

Do you have any advice for anyone entering your field?
Just use your iPhone camera, cause it’s the best camera in the world.

When you think of Seattle Fashion, what comes to mind? How would you define Seattle’s fashion style?
Honestly? I think misfits. Misfits with good intentions. I also think of great creativity and passionate individuals, but often it’s energy mis-directed… OR, said parties will simply depart for greener pastures, because well, they have to. I definitely applaud the local designers starting out who incorporate the Green movement into their aesthetic. I think it’s smart, timely, and appropriate for the hipster scene in which we live.

How has the Seattle Fashion landscape changed over the years?
I have no idea. Probably… grown?

What excites you about the future of Seattle fashion?
Hmm… I am cautious.

How would you describe your own personal style?
“Classy”. Inside joke. No, I don’t know. I’d let other people describe it. I’d just call it personal.

Can you share a few address book recommendations to our readers (hairdressers, tailors, shops… anything you like really)?
Bossi & Ich Ky was cool, but they’re gone… too high a price point/style for the scene (and location). I wandered in Jack Straw on 1st the other day, that spot had a really cool vibe. I should probably get out more.

Now this is your chance to ask yourself and answer the one question you wish you had been asked but have never had the opportunity to do so.
Q: Are you ready?
A: Yep

Kelly Flynn

What do you design?  

My trademark style combines tailoring and handcrafted elements infused with an adventurous edge and modern fabrications. One of my goals is to create clothing unique enough to be worn through the seasons. I also love to bring together traditionalism and modernism. I design clothing for both men and women.

What does fashion mean to you?
Confidence, Creativity, and Innovation

When did you decide to become a designer?

High school. Deprecating comments from one classmate to another were common practice and created self-esteem issues all around. I longed for a world where people could fall in love with themselves and their distinctive qualities through the exploration of style. There was something missing when I tried fit into a clique or conform to the norm. I used creativity to fulfill a void left by loneliness. I became inspired to sew, put together different looks, and paint on my porch underneath the vast, starry Montana sky. Watercolor fueled my appreciation for color and unique textures.

When did you fall in love with fashion?
Using clothing as a means of expression became important to me at a very early age; my printed dog swimsuit took the place of a comfort blanket or teddy bear. I loved to model my different super-hero under-rue sets on my hot wheel and never wanted to leave the house without my star-shaped Bootsie Collins sunglasses. Fashion was a fun way to celebrate expression and individuality!

What is your design philosophy?
“Shine” I live to captivate the spirit of my fashion clients.

What are your influences?
Texture, color, music, business cycles

What are your biggest personal/professional challenges that you face day to day?
I have persevered through the challenges presented by my professional path (tough in the best of times, potentially crushing during the current economic downturn), making personal sacrifices and putting in countless hours to perfect technique and advance a powerful creative vision.

What has been your biggest professional achievement so far?
Although I have received notice for my work, the greatest reward has been durable self-confidence and patience, and the ability to learn more every day. Design has blessed me with the ability to seek creativity in everything that I do.

How do you see your brand/label developing over the next couple of years?
Modern Classics for Unique Freaks

What are your inspirations, your dreams for your brand/label?
My dream remains to promote self expression, acceptance, and to captivate the spirit of my fashion clients.

What is up next for your brand/line and what can we expect?

Placing an emphasis on tailoring and figure flattering silhouettes’

If you weren’t a designer then what would you be?
A Teacher

Who would you like to thank for your success?
My mother-she is full of love, character, and support.

Why did you decide to start your label/brand here in Seattle?

The landscape and the music of the Northwest inspires me

When you think of Seattle Fashion, what comes to mind? How would you define Seattle’s fashion style?

Passive aggressive

What excites you about the future of Seattle fashion?
A world that wants to be alive and discovered

What would you say are the benefits for Seattlelites of buying from local designers?
Fitted, unique garments that can define your sense of individuality.

What item of clothing (if any) do you wish that more men/women wore (specify which)?
For men a fitted blazer, for a women the proper undergarments for the look

If you could go back in time and experience any fashion moment, what would it be?
The 1940’s

How would you describe your own personal style? Can you share a few address book recommendations to our readers (hairdressers, tailors, shops… anything you like really)?
My style varies from Modern Classic to Modern Edge.
Net-a-porter is my favorite site for Internet fashion shopping
For Hair I am forever faithful to Will @ Nucleus Salon. Lisa Vann and her Aveda team are also extremely creative and talented as well.
For Manicures and Pedicures I go to Diamond Nails in Lower Queen Anne.
John Fluvog carries the best shoes in Seattle.
I shop World Spice by the market for cooking.
Three of my favorite restaurants for dining out are Ocho (Spanish Tapas) , Brad’s Swing side Café (Italian) , and Tamrid Tree (vietmamese).

What is the one item you never leave the house without (other than a cell phone)?
A Bra

Do you have any advice for anyone entering your field?
Believe in yourself and concentrate on defining your artistic style. Success is developed from hard work and patience.

Vintage. The Basics

Why Vintage?

When we have thousands of stores selling clothes that smell new, have never been worn, and definitely fit in with today’s trends, why go through all the trouble of buying clothes that are old and used? The practical perks of buying vintage are numerous. Depending on what you are looking for and where you currently shop, vintage is usually cheaper than new clothing, and of course the act of re-using is a green practice that any Seattleite could respect. In addition, buying vintage doesn’t support the sweatshops in third world countries where most of our clothing comes from.

But practical reasons aside, vintage fashion is an invaluable addition to your wardrobe simply because it is unique. We wear clothing to express ourselves, but we all shop at the same places–your “unique” piece that you purchased last week could easily be seen on your coworker who also shops at Nordstrom. When you score a vintage piece, you have claimed the only one–there’s almost no chance someone else has the same piece. We can also recognize that the trends of today echo past decades, so instead of spending a fortune to get that new designer 50s-inspired coat, a trip to the vintage store down the street will deliver the real deal–an actual 1950s coat–and for a small fraction of the price. Vintage is cheap, it’s uniquely you, and by all means it holds a relevant place in today’s fashions.

What exactly is–and isn’t–vintage?

Image via Edward Clark of LIFE

While the definitions vary, most enthusiasts and collectors agree that clothing from the 1920′s until the early 1990′s is considered vintage. Anything before 1920 is antique and probably shouldn’t be worn due to its fragile condition, though if you come across an Edwardian blouse and fall in love, only you can make that call! Also, and most importantly, just because something is old doesn’t mean it is vintage. Melody Fortier, proprietor of the Tangerine Boutique and author of The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping, writes “vintage is not just about age…It is about essence and style. I think we can all agree that not every piece of twenty-year-old double-knit polyester deserves to be resurrected. It may meet the age requirement, but that’s about all” (9). Something is vintage when it taps into timelessness–the design is so pleasing and so right that it transcends both time and trends.

Another term to be aware of is “retro.” Though also used in reference to past fashions, “retro” does not mean “vintage,” though they are often confused. Something is retro when it is strongly inspired by the past but is actually brand new. When designers and department stores release clothing that feels 1970′s, it is retro, but if you pick up a pair of flared corduroy trousers from 1975, that’s vintage. Finally, though vintage clothing is often used, it doesn’t have to be in order to be vintage. Occasionally while shopping you may come across abbreviations on tags such as “NWT” (new with tags), “NBW” (never been worn), “MIB” (mint in box), or “NOS” (new old stock, or old store inventory that was never sold), and all of these abbreviations indicate an unused piece of clothing.

Where can I find vintage?

Image via Gjon Mili of LIFE

Technically, vintage clothing can be found anywhere. Where you go depends on how much patience, time and energy you have. If you are just beginning, go to a vintage shop–there are many around Seattle. They save you the trouble of locating vintage clothing, but because the price of vintage rises every time it’s sold, you are going to spend a little more. Until you’re comfortable with identifying quality and are familiar with your own vintage style, stick with the specialty shops–more than likely, the shop’s owner will be glad to help you acquaint yourself with their store, the clothes, and help you find what you’re looking for. Once you have become a connoisseur and are willing to put in the time, the world is your vintage shop! Estate sales and even garage sales can sometimes deliver the most unique pieces, and you’re almost guaranteed an amazing deal. If you are really feeling confident, secondhand stores such as Goodwill and Value Village can yield amazing steals, if you’re willing to sift through racks and racks of rejects. Once you are used to identifying the fabrics, buttons and cuts of vintage clothing (sometimes just running your fingers down the racks of clothing can point out great pieces), you will find yourself getting better and better.

There are also a number of online opportunities for vintage, perhaps none better than our own local vintage specialist Dana Guyton of Sustalux, or Sustainable Luxury. Her website explains that Sustalux “focus[es] on vintage because there is a quality and authenticity to each piece that you can’t often find these days. Many of our garments come from an era when each piece was envisioned and constructed by the designers themselves along with a team of patternmakers and seamstresses–not like the machine-made designer apparel of today.” Sustalux prides themselves on their fair prices, quality pieces (“pristine or barely worn designer and New Old Stock pieces that are full of life and just begging to be worn!”) and honest passion for vintage clothing. Keep your eye out for Guyton’s new brick-and-mortar shop! In the meantime, check out and

How do I…

…Identify a quality piece of vintage clothing?

Overall, vintage clothing has a greater standard of quality than almost everything made today, except the high-end labels that most of us can’t afford. Fortier writes in The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping: “Most women were taught the basics about purchasing quality clothing, and as educated consumers they demanded that manufacturers uphold certain standards if they wanted to stay in business” (24).  Luckily, as a vintage shopper, you too will come across these excellently crafted clothes of the past. As long as something isn’t torn, faded, or showing obvious signs of wear, it can be considered a quality piece for all basic wardrobe needs; however, if you wish to explore the high-end side of vintage, keep your eyes open for the words “haute couture,” “pret-a-porter,” and “better designer” in order to locate the absolute best of the best. Until you get serious, remember: the most important factors of choosing quality vintage clothing boil down to “is it in good shape?” and “will I wear this?”

When checking clothing for wear, make sure you look at the stress points: high collars, shoulders, underarms, sleeve cuffs, the waistband, the hem and the seat are the most likely places to find damage. Another serious factor to be on the lookout for is perspiration damage: not only is it a permanent stain, but eventually the salt content will eat away the fabric.

…Know whether something that is damaged is worth the purchase?

Image via Francis Miller of LIFE

Fur: bald spots and falling hairs signal irreparable moth damage, as these pests attack fur at the root–avoid at all costs. Feel around for lumpy areas–lumps give away the places where splits have been mended. If there are just a couple lumps, it’s a go–if you can’t count them all, there are so many, it means the fur won’t last long. Generally, the newer the fur, the better it is for wear.

Leather: If it is brittle, flaking or cracked, your leather won’t be around for much longer. Flexible leather is durable leather. When considering a leather purse, check the seams, bottom and lining–if it is a clean split at the seam, your purse can be mended, but if the leather is cracking in numerous places, leave it. If you’re lucky enough to locate some great looking leather shoes, remember that soles and heels can be replaced, but a damaged upper is damaged for life.

Beading: Be careful! Beading is beautiful and can make for a one-of-a-kind find, but if the beads fall and are lost, remember that finding replacements for decades-old beads could and probably would prove difficult. GENTLY run your fingers over the beads–check for broken strands. Once the beading thread weakens, your beads could explode off the piece at any moment! If you can’t find much evidence of weakness or previous breakage, it’s yours to try and enjoy! Another word of caution: beading on silk is often a dangerous combination, as the silk is more likely to deteriorate under the heavy beading with time (Grimble 192).

It smells like used clothing: a brisk brushing off followed by a thorough airing-out should work wonders on smells, and washing usually does the trick: however, if the garment has seen heavy perspiration (usually evidenced by telltale stains and smell), you’re not guaranteed a full smell-recovery.

Stains: If you’re willing to attempt it, the stain can probably be removed. The key here is care. Don’t rush or overdo it–doing so may ruin the piece you’re trying to salvage. First, try a little warm water and gently try to work out the stain with a cloth. No luck? Try (one at a time, rinsing gently in between each attempt) Biz laundry soap, dish soap, or even windex. Testing a corner of your garment first is probably a good idea (Fortier 127).

…Care for my vintage clothing?

Image via HOM Laundry, LIFE

Cleaning: A lot of vintage clothing can go right into the washing machine, like nylon and polyester–anything synthetic made during or after the 1960s. As for cotton, linen, or basic knits, hand washing is your best answer. If it’s your favorite piece and you’re not sure, go ahead and dry clean it. Anything with a fancy lining, detailing, beading, or anything older than the 1950s should probably be dry cleaned. By all means, avoid the dryer!

Care: Wear your anti-perspirant, because sweat destroys old fabrics. Wash sparingly, but make sure you wash after getting a piece of vintage clothing sweaty or wet with any liquid besides water. Avoid metal hangers, and by all means do not hang anything beaded, for this will speed up the wear process. Steam rather than iron.

There you have it! Vintage basics, helping you get a handle on what vintage is, where to find it, how to discern good from bad, and how to care for it. Watch out next week for Vintage pt II: Shopping guide, featuring each decade in fashion, finding your vintage identity, knowing about fit, tips on how to wear vintage, and a listing of Seattle’s best vintage destinations