For the boutique shopper, it's all about efficiency in numbers. Though determinedly different from the mall shopper, both types know the value of only needing to find one parking space. And so areas like NW 23rd have thrived like outdoor malls, with nary a Lane Bryant in sight. Pleasingly, Portland is developing stronger retail strips like this, among them E Burnside, Hawthorne, Mississippi, and Alberta.
For the second consecutive year, business owners on Alberta are coming together for Fashion by Flashlight, an evening of trunk shows, sales, snacks, and cocktails up and down the street's lighted shops. An excellent way to make a night of it with fall shopping and early holiday gift buying, it's also the perfect opportunity to see what's shaking on one of Portland's ever-evolving main drags.
Imp (1422 NE Alberta) is first on the map working west-to-east. Browse the selection of luxury soaps and candles, artful wrapping paper, and greeting cards on your way to the expanding clothing selection, where you'll find a stash of the simple and great LAMade line, which has won the hearts of many a layer-happy Portland girl. Having moved beyond simple tanks and Ts, Imp boasts several of the brand's smart little jackets (think Carhartt gone femme, in a good way). The store also has an extensive jewelry section, including work from local Lily Lambert, who is also known for her perfumes (the complete line is also carried here). A gift idea or way to keep warm in the coming months are the beautiful quilts made in Austria by David Fussenegger—the longer you linger in this store, the more you discover, so try to save some of your energy for the rest of the beat.
Across the street is Frock (1439 NE Alberta), rife with clothing, accessories, and jewelry from local designers and artisans, plus heaps of selected vintage clothing that are always worth a snoop. Mabel & Zora (1468 NE Alberta) are hosting a trunk show for local Torie Nguyen's Totinette Jewelry Designs, and offering 15 percent off all sweaters, including styles from 525 America, Tulle, French Connection, Kersh, Veronica M, and more.
Garnish (1524 NE Alberta) is offering 25 percent off on jewelry (all of which is in-house) and bath products (Huilerie & Savonnerie, Durance), and IDOM (1600 NE Alberta) is having 10 percent off storewide. In addition to the IDOM line created by owner Modi Soondarotok, you'll find new looks from Dolce Vita (whose shoes you may already be familiar with), Iro, as well as amazing international jewelry and a selection of handbags and other accessories.
Hit Donna & Toots (1627 NE Alberta) and Tumbleweed (1812 NE Alberta) for a range of womenswear, Digs Inside & Out (1829 NE Alberta) for gardening goodies, Office (2204 NE Alberta) for design-oriented office supplies, and Bolt (2136 NE Alberta) for fabrics in wonderful prints and textures to create your own rainy-day projects—during the event, they'll be awarding $85 to the best project constructed out of $15 spent at Bolt, so you have plenty of time to brainstorm for next year's competition. On a related crafty note, neighbor Close Knit (2140 NE Alberta) is giving 10 percent off the entire store of floor-to-ceiling yarn and knitting supplies.
PedX (2230 NE Alberta) is hosting a trunk show of local jewelry, plus beefing up the merch in their sale section, with 30 to 40 percent off footwear by Biviel, Cydwoq, Camper, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Tsubo, Giraudon, and more, plus bags and other accessories. More trunk shows down the road at Ella's (2529 NE Alberta) and Foundation Garments (2712 NE Alberta), where Summer Pinnick's Layers Squared line will be featured among merchandise from hits Erhart, DB Clay wallets, Kitchen Orange, Leanimal, and much more.
Lastly, don't skip a peek into relative newcomer It Girl (2734 NE Alberta) where the owners work their connections to bring in overstock merchandise that includes designer denim at insider prices mixed with a smattering of used clothing. A live model will help channel the store's vintage Hollywood theme showing off looks for the store while perched in the front window. (Fashion by Flashlight, Thurs Oct 11, 6-9 pm)
Meanwhile, on the south side, Olio United (1028 SE Water) is hosting Awesome Caboose denim night, with wine and free hemming on denim from eco- and ethical-minded lines Loomstate, Sling&Stones, Del Forte, and Good Society. (Awesome Caboose, Thurs Oct 11, 6-9 pm)
On the Westside, say hello to Portland's latest treasure trove of vintage finds: Fringe Vintage (1700 NW Marshall). Just opened by Erin Stout (along with her mother), the bright store features boots and shoes for men and women, clothing, furniture, accessories, and kitsch—scope it out before all the good stuff gets taken. And finally, Rio Wrenn and Cara Fujishige are presenting a fashion exhibition featuring fabrics that have been rusted and shibori-dyed in the vein of "Victorian Tart/European Chic." (Rake Art Gallery, 325 NW 6th, Sat Oct 13, 7-10 pm)