REGARDLESS OF HOW the rest of the local economy is faring, Portland's boutique community continues to swell, and the newest kid on the block—at 1609 NE Alberta, to be precise—is Backtalk.
Opening its doors last week, Backtalk is a joint effort between Katie Freedle and Elissa Hall. Friends since college (they both attending the University of Oregon), Freedle is best known for her line of jewelry, RillRill, which features hand pieces that connect from wrist to finger and risqué thigh chains, among other more traditional pieces. Hall, meanwhile, has eight years of vintage collecting under her belt (her vintage business is called Bearded Lady Vintage). Both originally from the metro area, Hall says that their lifestyle surrounded by friends working in various art fields made opening the shop seem like a logical step, and that they have been "trying to find products that reflect the current economy," which means asking certain questions like, "'Is it industrious? Where is it made?' Because people are being careful about what they buy."
Among the pair's most prestigious gets for the store is the fact that they are the only brick-and-mortar stockists for both the Portland Garment Factory's HouseLine and Nom&Ada shoes. HouseLine—conceived by the small-run factory that many local designers have come to rely on for their production needs—debuted last fall and was well received, but prior to Backtalk's arrival was available only on the PGF website. Similarly, Nom&Ada is a joint project between Rie Sawai and Kimberly Andrade, a moccasin-inspired flat sandal in four colorways. Previously it too was only available for purchase online.
Along with clothing (about 75 percent womenswear and 25 percent menswear), Freedle and Hall have a modest array of small-press publications, apothecary items that include Portland Black Lipstick Company and scents by Julia Barbee, and plan to host monthly art shows as well as live music for special events like Last Thursday.
Eclectic and poised for an interesting evolution, it's the kind of magpie endeavor that makes for an interesting, personal shopping experience—one that feels natural right now.
Lizard Lounge is back from a brief hibernation for its first First Thursday of the year, and in fine form with live music by Chris Pierce, a group art show titled Once Opened, featuring work by Ellen Webber, Sara Cross, and Ashley Conde, beer and Koi Fusion, and 20 percent off regularly priced merch—all to benefit CreativeCares. Lizard Lounge, 1323 NW Irving, Thurs April 5, 7 pm
Aequanimitas is throwing a First Friday party to celebrate the first-ever art show of resident artist (along with Heather Treadway and Meagan Hardy) Rachelle Waldie's work. Also featured is new jewelry from Seahag and Walrus, Treadway's new capes and onesies for infants and toddlers, and all the usual charms of this tucked-away boutique. Aequanimitas, 811 E Burnside, #119, Fri April 6, 6 pm
On the other side of Mt. Tabor, Montavilla is having its own First Friday, and Union Rose is using the opportunity to hold a trunk show for Clair Vintage Inspired's dresses (for Easter, or not). You'll also be able to choose an egg with vouchers inside for 10-15 percent off your Clair purchase, plus one golden ticket for 25 percent off. Union Rose, 7909 SE Stark, Fri April 6, 6 pm
Another kickass pop-up event, the New Vintage Pop Up Shop, features Betsy & Iya, Bridge & Burn, New Church Moto, Optik PDX, Solestruck, Harper Birch, and the titular cosmetic and hair care products of host New Vintage Beauty Lounge. New Vintage Beauty Lounge, 3864 N Mississippi, Fri April 6, 6 pm
The Blackbox—the downtown shopping landmark that houses Solestruck, the Woodlands, Dunderdon, Isaac Hers, Blackbird, and Tanner Goods all at the same address—is kicking out the jams for a spring block party. Solestruck will have "PBR, Jell-O shots, and beer koozies" to get you warmed up for a pop-up shop featuring Saltwater Gypsy vintage and Tnemnroda jewelry, a DJ, shoe giveaways (five pairs of Jeffrey Campbell Litas), and goodie bags. Meanwhile, Isaac Hers will host a "Make My Break" sale/party from 3-9 pm with 20 percent off apparel, and another 5 percent off when you check in on Facebook. Blackbird will have a $5-a-pop kissing booth ($1 for a hug) that benefits the Pixie Project. The Woodlands, Tanner Goods, and Dunderdon will be keeping things simple with more free beer, late hours, and markdowns. The Blackbox, SW 13th & Burnside, Sat April 7, 3 pm