We announced earlier last week that Madewell is opening its Portland store tomorrow, and while it's true that we like to keep our focus on the independent scene, we decided to take a closer look at Madewell and its head designer, Somsack Sikhounmuong, considering how excited so many of our friends are about the store's arrival (which is actually under the umbrella of parent company J. Crew).

  • Madewell

How long have you been designing for Madewell?
Sikhounmuong: I've been at Madewell for about a year and half.

What made you choose Portland as a location?

Sikhounmuong: Unfussy , authentic, cool—words I'd use to describe Portland and the Madewell girl—seemed like the perfect match.

Your brand often donates to local charities. Do you plan to continue that in Portland?

Sikhounmuong: We are currently selling goods from Piece + Co, an organization that creates jobs for women in developing countries. Charity is a huge part of our company's DNA.

[They hope to discuss charity work with Portland eventually—Eds]

Would you be open to featuring Portland designers in your shop?

Sikhounmuong: We are kicking off the opening by carrying two local brands and an original piece by local artists. We will be offering five styles of brass and leather jewelry from AK Vintage and two exclusive soap packages from Maak Lab. Artists Haley Ann Robinson and Casey Keasler have teamed up to create a wood and ceramic planter. When we come to a new city we look for local talent to create goods that work with our aesthetic. We definitely found that kind of synergy in these partners.

  • Maak Lab

One hopes the collaborations with our design community continues into the future—they certainly chose local talent that shines. The doors will open at 10 am tomorrow for the grand opening, and they have a stack of Bien Fait tote bags to give away with every purchase throughout the day. The party portion goes from 6-8 pm, when you can get champagne and small bites, and listen to some jams.

  • Madewell