Meet The Top 12 Fashion Designers In S.F.!

Sure, there's a whole lot of attention being shed on New York's fashion scene this week, but the West (best?) Coast definitely has design talent nestled in these sunny parts, too. Although it took a little digging (hey, the style set in S.F. isn't always apparent!), we've rounded up the top 12 designers who call the Bay Area home.
From the Academy of Art's brightest alums who haven't hopped on over to the Big Apple, to print-making masters and dreamy bridal designers, this perfect dozen definitely has what it takes to put — and keep — San Francisco on the fashion map. Trust us, shopping local has never been easier.
Photo: Courtesy of Serial Cultura
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Camelia Skikos
One look at the offerings above, and it's clear this former head designer at Levi's knows a thing or two about sharp tailoring. The Romanian-born talent (also an instructor at the Academy of Art) launched her own label in 2010 and for the past two years has kept her focus squarely on local production and fierce geometric designs.

Where to buy: Wonderland, 440 Brannan.

Photo: Courtesy of Camelia Skikos
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Erica Tanov
One of the Bay's veteran designers, Tanov has been successfully hard at work for nearly two decades. The Parsons graduate is known far and wide (she has shops in New York, San Francisco, Marin, and Berkeley) for her slinky slip dresses, cozy knits, and print-making prowess.

Where to buy: Erica Tanov, Dish, Maude in Petaluma, and online.

Photo: Courtesy of Erica Tanov
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Serial Cultura
Speaking of stellar prints, Oakland designer Jennifer Jennings of Serial Cultura is also super savvy when it comes to original works of wearable art. Merging organic and geometric silhouettes with digital-and hand-printed patterns, these made-in-Cali pieces are statement-makers to say the least. With degrees from the Kansas City Art Institute and Parsons School of Design under her belt (plus ten collections!), trust that you're only going to be seeing more good things from Jennings.

Where to buy: AB Fits, Eden & Eden, Esqueleto, and online.

Photo: Courtesy of Serial Cultura
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Ali Golden
Spinning out what she considers the "modern urban uniform," Ali Golden's collection is heavy on sheer fabrics, bold hues and patterns, and cool-girl silhouettes. A member of Oakland's young creative class, Golden recently set up shop in hip enclave Temescal Alley, where guests can chat up Golden and browse the racks while she's busy sewing away in the background.

Where to buy: Dish, Two Birds, Hawthorne, Ali Golden in Oakland, and online.

Photo: Courtesy of Ali Golden
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First Rite
This two-year-old label is the brainchild of Nikki Garcia, a mega-stylish Missionite who designs much of her collection in her rustic-cool abode (see pics of it here!). The Montana-born, FIDM grad then has a team construct her pieces in a sprawling Bayview studio, sticking to a neutral palette and top-quality, U.S.-sourced materials (designer overstock has been known to creep into the collection). Garcia describes the aesthetic as "minimal, modern, and a little bit dark. It has a dressy, but wearable feel." Plus, if you look close enough, you'll see the devil is in the details, with lots of emphasis on intricate folding and pleating techniques.

Where to buy: Voyager, Revolver, and Rand + Statler.

Photo: Courtesy of First Rite
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Sarah Seven
This bridal designer extraordinaire is a semi-recent Portland import who's now set up shop at an Inner Richmond atelier. There, brides-to-be can dress up in her dreamy gowns that are both modern and ethereal (there's not a ballgown in sight)! Those frocks, plus versions for the bridesmaids and guests, employ both natural fabrics (silk, wool, linen, cotton voile) and recycled vintage bits for an all together classic and classy look.

Where to buy: Online, or make a 1-on-1 appointment here.

Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Seven
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Micaela Greg
S.F.'s resident knitwear experts, sisters Marie and Karen Potesta are the forces behind Micaela Greg. The graphic-savvy line is focused on simple silhouettes and lets the bold patterns and rich textures (spun from Italian yarn) do the talking. Think these girls know what they're doing? We believe their combined experience at the likes of the Academy of Art, FIDM, and Levi's, plus a Gen Art award, says it all.

Where to buy: Conifer, Eden & Eden, Steven Alan, General Store, AB Fits, and online.

Photo: Courtesy of Micaela Greg
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One of our favorite young talents in the Bay (check out our tour of her Diamond Heights crib), NY native Michele Janezic first cut her teeth working with Erica Tanov before setting out on her own. With a nod to the easy-breezy style and superior craftsmanship found in Tanov's work, Janezic's eponymous line stands out for its mix-and-match separates and head-turning jumpers in sophisticated prints. Bonus: If you want to meet the woman behind the brand, head to Unionmade's new womenswear shop Mill Mercantile, where Janezic serves as chief shop keeper.

Where to buy: Dish, General Store, Mill Mercantile, and McMullen in Piedmont.

Photo: Courtesy of Janezic
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Sara Shepherd
Another Academy of Art alum (it is our hotbed for design talent), Shepherd logged in time at the famed Central St. Martins before jumping the pond to S.F. Not surprisingly, her collection is based on classic British tailoring techniques, combined with her new American lifestyle ... which, by the looks of things, seems to be a tad goth-chic in nature. Ladies with a hankering for severely cut jackets and frocks, this is your girl.

Where to buy: MAC Modern Appealing Clothing.

Photo: Courtesy of Sara Shepherd
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The Podolls
The husband-and-wife team behind The Podolls is about as cute as their ultra-wearable wears. What began as a line of handcrafted organic T-shirts is now a full collection of sustainable clothing, which is all grown in the U.S. and sewn in a light-soaked Dogpatch studio. Sold at plenty of shops around town, the label is marked by easy shapes, subtle patterns, and eco fabrics.

Where to buy: MAC Modern Appealing Clothing, Conifer, Two Birds, and McMullen in Piedmont.
Photo: Courtesy of The Podolls
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And yet another man-and-wife team, Brian Scheyer and Jill Giordano, create the local label Gr.Dano. The pair looks to architecturally inspired designs that show off their expert draping skills. Out of the plethora of shops that sell Gr.Dano wares across the country, perhaps the most key is 440 Brannan in SoMa. It's there that the duo produces its clothing (in an area behind the retail space) and manages the shop from time to time. Go say hi!

Where to buy: 440 Brannan, Wonderland, MollyB, Patina, and Sala in Berkeley.

Photo: Courtesy of Gr.Dano
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Lan Jaenicke
If minimalism is your thing, look to local designer Lan Jaenicke to make the garb of your dreams. “Great design is ultimately a testament to the power of geometry,” explains Jaenicke, who has been successfully slinging a line of expertly tailored cashmere coats and sweaters since 2008. Try one of these babies on, and you'll understand just what she means.

Where to buy: Eden & Eden, Danielle, Merch, Leaf & Petal in Palo Alto, and Paparazzi in Tiburon.

Photo: Courtesy of Lan Jaenicke