"SWING FOR THE FENCES." That's pretty good advice when it comes to most ventures, and all the more so in the dicey, competitive world of retail. No wonder then, Nicole Funke's choice of a name for her newly reopened womenswear brick 'n' mortar: Victory.
"I put a lot of effort into it," says Funke of the decision. "It needed to be something that didn't have any negative connotations, and Nicole means 'people of victory' in Greek"—sold!
Although this incarnation of Victory just opened, it—like an increasing number of new shops—originated as an online-only store that has been operating for about a year. It's a popular, relatively secure way to go: You can live out your company's first, often money-losing phase with relatively little overhead before making the commitment to lease. And, this is actually Victory's second physical home. It had been operating, quietly and briefly, in the back of 811 E Burnside on the second floor.
The new digs, less than a block away next to Grendel's café, afford Funke much greater visibility. Her concept is a mix of some vintage, but mainly small independent lines with moderate pricing. It's a weak point in the Portland boutique market that's been recently identified, with shops like SE Hawthorne's Communion—and not many others—rising to fulfill it in a city with a proud collection of beautiful shops that tip toward the higher end.
Victory further distinguishes itself by pushing away from the typical dress shop template to resemble Funke's personal tendency to take influence from menswear. You'll find lots of versatile button-ups here, sensibly chic parkas, knits, and skinny jeans among the still strong dress representation. Funke says running themes among the forthcoming spring arrivals are chambray and polka dots, and the taxidermy and vintage jars and flags arranged in small tableaus throughout the space lend a tomboyish vibe.
Favorite brands include a generous representation of the Portland-designed Bridge & Burn, and small lines like Los Angeles brand Pretty Penny Stock, whose dresses retail in the $60-80 range while keeping production domestic. Victory also has a tidy little range of apothecary products, including handmade soaps and candles as well as World War II-era first aid kits in age-patinated tins. And while Portland designers are well represented across the city, Funke prefers to look slightly further afield, like a line of bags by Tacoma's Slide Sideways and a jewelry case representing a variety of West Coast locales.
As a small-boutique experience that's as thoughtful and well curated as any of Portland's other many charmers, with a commitment to price accessibility, Victory is a welcome addition. Let's hope its name is a prophecy. Victory, 727 E Burnside, victorypdx.com
Meanwhile, in Montavilla: Kick-ass local production house Portland Garment Factory is hosting a huge fabric sale this weekend to offload their own extras as well as a large private collection. Founder Britt Howard explains, "A friend of mine inherited a huge and fabulous collection. It is mostly large pieces of various prints—cute vintage psych-looking stuff to Peruvian tapestry-looking stuff. Solids too, like silks, muslins, cotton, and of course lots of poly from the '70s. This lady had exquisite taste and it sounds like she lived a well-traveled life." Plus, there will be mimosas, food vendors, and a free box. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon. Portland Garment Factory, 408 SE 79th, Sat Feb 23, 10 am-4 pm