Wine Country has Style
Girls looking for something cool to wear in California’s wine country don’t have to look far with HauteButch.
Launched in April 2012, the designer duds, designed by HauteButch, have taken off on the web and in boutique stores around Sonoma County, where the company is headquartered.
“We have quite a few straight women walking around in HauteButch clothes here,” says Karen Roberts, 50, owner and designer of HauteButch . “Someone told me the other day, ‘I saw your clothes on three people at church.’”
California’s famed wine country is the home of the alternative women’s fashion design company that creates stylish clothes for the not so girly girl who wants something unique with a little flare.
HauteButch clothes fit the slimmest to the plus size woman, says Karen.
“It has that sort of internal attitude that these clothes fit them, because as I’m designing them, what’s at the forefront of my mind is a strength of character,” says Karen. “I want to design so that people feel confident in the clothes that they are wearing and that they fit.”
HauteButch is being snapped up by wine country boutiques, such as Funk and Flash (228 S. Main St., Sebastopol, 707-829-1142, FunkandFlash.com) and She (517 4th St., Santa Rosa, 707-542-4300, SheSantaRosa.com). Other online retailers, such as Bootic and Envy, are also picking up the label, says Karen.
The response to HauteButch has been incredible, says Karen. Due to the Internet, people have found their way to HauteButch from Australia, London, Russia, Iceland and around North America. Requests for HauteButch clothes continues to grow earlier this year traffic to the online store started ratcheting up to more than 500 visitors daily and Karen is ready, she says.
So are other designers who share Karen’s sentiment about not being able to find masculine inspired clothing that fit female frames, designers have been taking to the sketching table and sewing machines to create clothing for a hungry audience. In a year’s time there has been a renaissance in men’s inspired clothing for women.
A little more than a year after Karen’s designs first appeared at the EDEN Fashion Event, there has been an explosion of likeminded designers creating casual to business to dressy clothing for women who are attracted to a more masculine style of clothing that fits their figure.
“I think it’s wonderful,” says Karen about the plethora of new designers that are giving women fashionable choices. “I think that it all serves to the greater cause of visibility and showing the myriad of ways that we like to represent ourselves. So, I’m thrilled.”
“My whole thing is … embrace the brand that embraces you,” continues Karen.
Arenas to display the new brands have also emerged. The HauteButch line has appeared in several fashion shows throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and been shown at Beauty and the Butch, Chix w/ Trix, and ButchLyfe all in Oakland in 2012 and 2013.
She’s even begun to exhibit HauteButch traveling to the Dinah in Palm Springs this year.
Tonight, Karen will be joined by the likes of Melissa Millan, founder of Androgyny, Shreya Shah, designer of Chamchi Chamcha, Adriana Santos, designer of Immigreat Designs, Inna Ella, designer of JFE Creative, Fatima Fleming, founder of Sea Pony Couture, and Alyah Baker and Nichole Payton, owners of Show & Tell Concept, an Oakland-based boutique, at the second annual EDEN Fashion Event during EDEN Pride Weekend San Francisco.
The fashion show will be hosted by America’s Next Top Model contestant AzMarie, who will be strutting down the runway in JFE Creative’s edgy wear.
This year HauteButch’s models will be sporting a “few of our new Gatsby-inspired Alpha Sport Shirts along with the new HauteButch BodyWear of briefs and boxer trunks,” says Karen.
She teases that there “may be a surprise or two that you’ll have to be there to see.”
A surprising invention
Little did Karen know that her simple desire for stylish menswear was going to be such a phenomenon when she started this venture.
“I’m not sure what made me believe, but I knew that there is a market for what I’m doing,” says Karen, about creating HauteButch and not being in the fashion center.
The internet, the desire for her type of clothing, and her business background has served her well in her new venture as well as being located based in Santa Rosa, where she lives with the love of her life, Michelle Porter, 62.
“I think that we are just part of [it] and at the right time,” says Karen, who is focused on bringing quality products that are affordable to her clients. “I think that in that sense especially with online and other stores you don’t really have to be in the fashion capital.”
“It’s absolutely wonderful to be located in the wine country,” says Karen.
The only drawback to not being located in one of the fashion centers – Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco – in the U.S. is that HauteButch hasn’t garnered as much attention as Saint Harridan and San Francisco’s Tomboy Tailors.
Yet, Karen is making California’s wine country work for her and proving that today’s fashion world can spring up anywhere. California through and through, Karen designs her clothes in Santa Rosa, works with a seamstress in Los Angeles to create the patterns and works with manufactures in San Francisco to create the shoes and three to four part-time staff. The only non-Californian is Karen’s junior assistant, who operates out of New Jersey, she says.
“It’s so beautiful here,” says Karen. “It’s like a vacation spot really.”
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