Some might call Bellevue’s shopping opportunities an embarrassment of riches, but we’re not a bit embarrassed to have so many stylish shops, boutiques and brands to choose from.
In fact, we’re pretty proud to claim not only fashionable national fashion retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, but also local, offbeat and independent shops like Fireworks Gallery at Bellevue Square, and Jarbo and La Ree Boutique in Old Bellevue. And shoppers in the market for luxury find retail nirvana at the Shops at the Bravern, which features high-street retailers like Hermes, Jimmy Choo and Salvatore Ferragamo.
That enviable balance of established and eclectic makes our city not only an attractive destination for shoppers, but also for designers, who aspire to showcase their wares alongside the likes of Tory Burch and Diane Von Furstenberg. Later this month, eight of those talented up-and-comers will participate in the Independent Designer Runway Show (Sept. 23), a highlight of Fashion Week at the Bellevue Collection, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
“We have one of the largest concentrations of fashion designers in the Puget Sound, but they have to leave here to grow their businesses,” says Jennifer Leavitt, vice president of marketing for the Bellevue Collection. “We believe that we can shed some light on the talent in this market, and provide a launch pad for designers to get noticed and connected. We hope that in the future, we can also have more of these designers present in our stores.”
The designers are chosen by a panel of fashion industry luminaries, and spend the six months leading up to the show in a mentor program. “From chic evening wear that sparkles to intricate bridal gowns to a fun spin on traditional business attire to traditional Mongolian inspired silhouettes with a twist, this year’s group continues to impress,” says Leavitt. “We are so excited to see their final looks on the runway.” Not only do the featured designers have a chance to win top honors at the show—or be selected “fan favorite”–many of them go on to experience great success locally.
In 2013, the show introduced knitwear designer Paychi Karen Guh, renowned for comfortable, versatile cashmere. Her luxurious line is a perfect fit for the Northwest because it is made up of lightweight, breathable, trans-seasonal pieces that are beautiful by themselves, but even cozier layered together. A veteran of Nordstrom, where she spent 15 years as a textile designer and design director, she is proud to be a part of our homegrown fashion industry. “Eastside shoppers are so supportive of the local community, and deserve to be introduced to the creations of local designers,” she says. Guh hosts seasonal trunk shows at Trillium Custom Tailoring in the Bellevue Collection. Sign up for her newsletter. Other highlights of the fashion-packed week include a guest appearance by designer, stylist and editor Rachel Zoe, who will host the Posh Party Trend Show on Sept. 25, and an appearance by fashion illustrator and artist Blair Breitenstein, a Northwest native who helped to create the event’s fall look book.
Chic Eastside boutique Jarbo shares the Bellevue Collection’s commitment to independence. In the spacious, modern shop on Main Street, sophisticated women of all ages wrap themselves in edgy, European-inspired, but highly wearable basics that combine luxury with ease. Nearly 25 percent of Jarbo’s products are handmade locally, and the brand is committed to showcasing innovative designers.
“Our work is personal and passionate,” says Natasha Felker, creative marketing director. “It’s not about speed, but about quality, design and relationships, both with the people who make our clothing and the people who wear it.” In addition to the Jarbo brand, shoppers will find gorgeous blouses, sweaters, coats and accessories from Italian labels Avant Toi, Herno, Why Ci and Lamberto Losani.
Just around the corner, La Ree Boutique also offers savvy shoppers an intimate, alternative retail experience. The sales associates, who fondly refer to their clients as “serial shoppers,” double as stylists, helping their customers put together highly personalized looks from brands like Ulla Johnson, Skin and Nili Lotan. The boutique also features necklaces, rings and earrings from local artisan jewelry designer Jamie Joseph.
Whether you’re shopping for a new fall wardrobe or getting a jump on your holiday gift list, you’ll find the best of both worlds in Bellevue: The latest looks from the brands you love—and stylish surprises from new designers you’ll love getting to know.
From top to bottom: Images courtesy of The Bellevue Collection, Shops at the Bravern, (The Independent Designer Runway Show) photography by Cindi Breen, and Jarbo Bellevue.