Westward Leaning, a San Francisco based sunglass company, is quickly becoming
the hottest accessory label for Hollywood's elite and fashionista's in the know.
The secret is in the design.
Each pair is crafted from one universally flattering shape,
while thoughtful accents and a mix of materials are used to distinguish one collection from another. Each collection focuses on an aspect of human achievement and social progress,
like the Children of California collection, which uses reclaimed redwood with proceeds going to Teach for America in the Bay Area. This quirky mixture of style and heart has made Westward Leaning one of our favorite new brands at McMullen. Check out an interview with the Westward Leaning team to find out how they created their signature shape and what causes they will be representing next.
Q. What's the key to creating sunglasses that are universally flattering?
key to creating sunglasses that are universally flattering is keeping
the design simple and minimalistic. Our universal frame is based on the
classic wayfarer frame, and we inlay the unique materials at the temples
in a flattering parallelogram shape.
Your project is based a lot on social causes and progressive issues.
How have these inspired Westward Leaning and the overall collection?
What issue is the current collection touching on and why is it important
to the brand to highlight human achievement?
original inspiration came from a brainstorm session when our
co-founders Robert Denning and Karlygash Burkitbayeva where classmates
at Stanford Business School. They were trying to figure out ways that
retail could better engage with contemporary social issues. Rather than
use social issues merely for marketing, they wanted to make them core to
a brand's identity, and central to the actual design and
manufacturing. Therefore a social lens has inspired every aspect of the
brand from where we source to the materials we choose to incorporate in
The current collection, Model No. 9 honors the color revolutions that
have brought about democratic change throughout the world. While the
sunglasses honor all the various color revolutions, the specific
models—in blue, orange and pink—celebrate the Orange Revolution, the
Blue Revolution, and both the Rose and the Velvet Revolutions,
respectively. For every pair of sunglasses sold, we donate $10 to
Reporters Without Borders, which works to protect and defend the
journalists who report on the front lines of social change.
is important for us to highlight human achievement for two reasons. The
first is that we strive to offer sunglasses that let people express
both their personal style and their outlook on the world around them.
The second is that, while past visionaries were responsible for the
achievements our sunglasses celebrate, we support education programs
dedicated to creating future visionaries in order to ensure we have a
bright future - bright enough for shades!
Q. What is your favorite style tip for women (of any age)?
favorite style tip, or something we love, is subtle color matching. For
example, when someone matches the reflective cobalt blue on the lenses
of our color revolution model with their belt, handbag, or the color of
their nails. It is subte, and hard to catch, but when you do it gives a
powerful sense of togetherness to the outfit.
Westward Leaning is now available at both McMullen locations.
Based in Berkeley, Erica Varize has quickly become one of our favorite local designers.
Erica's collections feature a contrast between soft, fluid jersey knits, and structural, vibrant Ankara print cotton. Her designs remain simple, allowing the fabrics to speak for themselves, but are always offering a unique architectural silhouette that works on every body type.
Recognized for being one of the first cut and sew boutiques in the bay area, Erica has now transitioned to off the rack collections so that she can quickly satiate the rising demand for her designs.
While Erica is deeply rooted in the urban community, her heart lies in Africa where she spent time as a teenager, and later as an adult, living and working in Guinea and Uganda. Erica's passion for her experiences in Africa inspired her use of traditional African wax fabrics from Uganda, which she incorporates into her collections through modern silhouettes.
Erica has also used her design skills to start a sewing camp for girls called Sew What, teaching them how to draft patterns, sew, and develop their creativity.
We love Erica's unique designs, and based on how quickly they've been flying off the McMullen racks, we're pretty sure you do to!
Check out an interview with Erica below, as well as a link to her website where you can find out more about her design process and involvement with the local community.
Q. Your designs utilize both architectural and fluid elements. What is your inspiration when creating your collections?
A. I have been asked this question many of times and the truth is this: I design for the woman that is in me, my inspiration comes from women that I am surrounded by ~ Self confident, moms, singles, career driven, women who understand the beauty of work and play ~ these women inspire our bohemian separates and also appreciate their own beauty when wearing one of our gowns. She is the same woman.
Q. Many of your designs feature traditional African wax fabrics. Do they have a particular meaning for you other than aesthetic appeal?
A. My love for the Ankara fabric began in 2007 after visiting Uganda, I immediately wanted to share my gift of design through this fabric, designing modern clothing with Ankara fabric that any woman could rock! I began supporting my passion of the fabric by purchasing from women in Uganda whom sell the fabric to support their families. Since 2007 EVarize has supported these women, and continues to design with Ankara.
Q. What is your style tip for women (of any age)?
A.Wear whatever the hell you wanna wear; just make sure you look good!
Q. What is your favorite fashion indulgence?
A. Shoes Shoes Shoes, all day!!!
Erica's pieces are available at McMullen and McMullen in Old Oakland. Stop by and browse her amazing collection! Click here for a link to her website where you can see more designs, and read more about this amazing local designer.
In their own words, the story goes something like this: boy meets girl, boy makes tees to impress girl, sparks fly, they launch a dream, boy and girl fall madly and deeply, boy needs girl's partnership, girl commits to loving and living the dream with boy, boy and girl run off together with wild abandon.
Thus is the beginning of the local, sustainable, and superbly chic line called The Podolls. Started in 2003 when abstract painter Josh Podoll met with, and later married, boutique buyer Lauren Berdell to discuss a line of graphic tees, The Podolls grew from t-shirts to a full collection of versatile, sustainable clothing for women.
With a focus on local production and using organic, responsibly grown materials, The Podolls create easy to wear, stylish clothes with a conscience. We love The Podolls because of the emphasis they place on keeping production, from the fibers in their textiles to the finished product, within the U.S.A. The Podolls combines comfort and style into versatile pieces that can be effortlessly mixed and matched for any occasion.
Check out an interview below with Josh and Lauren Podoll, as well as a link to their collection available at McMullen!
Q. The Podolls started as graphic tees. How did you move from t-shirts to an entire collection?
A. We started out designing tees and silk screening our drawings
onto them. Making t-shirts to our specifications taught us so much about
the process of creating patterns,
scaling them to fit and how various
fabrics affect the look and feel of the piece. Within a few seasons of
starting the collection of tees, we wanted to challenge ourselves and
started making other silhouettes like button down shirts and skirts. The
evolution of our line felt very natural to us and we tried to keep
learning and pushing our boundaries. Our experience drawing designs to
silkscreen on tops has informed our current process of creating
exclusive prints each season-- we still start with our drawings and
water colors and translate them into silk prints for our blouses,
dresses, and pants. Both of us love textiles and enjoy dreaming up new
ways to drape and execute our ideas to make beautiful, wearable
Q. What are you favorite fall indulgences?
A. Fall is such a cozy time of year.
At home we start making soups, roasted applesauce, homemade chai and
slow rise breads. We love hosting friends and family so we cultivate a
warm environment for entertaining. Our climate here in San Francisco is
perfect sweater weather so it's easy to justify adding some new pieces
to our wardrobes come fall!
Q. What is your favorite style tip for women (of any age)?
3. The best style
advice we follow is that comfort is key. You'll look your best when you
feel good in your skin and comfortable in your clothing. Trust your
first reaction when you try on clothes and choose what contributes to a
sense of ease and confidence. And besides that-- enjoy getting dressed!
Life can be tough so choose to be playful with fashion-- take some
risks, try something new and have fun!
Stop by McMullen to see the fall/winter 2012 Podolls collection!
Join us Thursday, November 8th, as we celebrate the one year anniversary of Pop Up Hood Oakland with our Neighbor Appreciation Night! As a small business community, we want to take the time to say thank you to all who have supported Pop Up Hood and its retail businesses, including the McMullen Old Oakland location, for the past year. We will be celebrating our neighbors with
food, drinks, music and late night shopping at all of the Pop Up Hood stores. Come celebrate with us this Thursday from 5-8pm and discover how Pop Up Hood is changing small businesses in Oakland. See details below, as well as a link to Pop Up Hood's homepage to find out more about their program and amazing stores. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you there!
Click here to find out more about Pop Up Hood and our Neighbor Appreciation Event