Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Recent Chattanooga transplants Christine Doyle and Annie Oxenfeld don’t think people should have to choose between looking good, looking professional or wearing environmentally friendly clothing.
One piece from their line of handmade vintage and upcycled custom clothing, called Sweetcycle Apparel, can have all of those qualities at once without breaking the bank, they said.
“We make dresses, skirts, shorts, reworked T-shirts and plan on making hoodies in the fall,” said Oxenfeld. “We make everything by hand and we have a retro-inspired aesthetic with a modern edge.”
After an extended trip abroad where the business partners lived out of backpacks and found themselves trading clothing pieces with other travelers or using scraps of fabric to embellish an existing outfit, they were inspired to turn their skills into a business by starting SweetCycle Apparel in Portland, Ore.
After success selling their apparel at boutiques in Cleveland, Asheville and online, Oxenfeld and Doyle decided to head South to launch the business full-time out of a studio space in Highland Park.
“What drew us to Chattanooga is the opportunity to be a part of forward movement going on here,” said Oxenfeld. “Five years from now, I think Chattanooga is going to be a totally different place.”
She moved to Chattanooga in September and Doyle moved to the Scenic City about a month ago, and together they are currently working to develop the studio space, begin sales at the Chattanooga Market and possibly bring an outdoor fashion show to the city.
“We’re serious about bringing independent fashion flavor to Chattanooga,” said Doyle. “We’re excited to explore the city’s energy and I love how excited and open people are.”
With a wide variety of styles ranging from classic A-lines to mod, Doyle said she and Oxenfeld work to create undeniably fashionable clothes that combine elements of classic style and current trends.
“We are both fans of independent fashion, but we found there was a lack of high fashion in upcycled designs,” said Doyle. “Women like to shop at vintage and resale shops but what I always hear women saying is that they don’t want to look dated. We take quality clothes, deconstruct them and reconstruct them in a way to make a more timeless style.”
In addition to clean lines and timeless styles, Doyle and Oxenfeld agree that their designs also highlight an emphasis on custom details, an affordable price point and flattering fits for all body types.
“For instance, at Chatty Crafty we had a lot of customers who came to the booth who were a little intimidated, because to them upcycled and vintage sounded exclusive,” said Oxenfeld. “But we don’t want the line to be exclusive. There was a woman who was close to tears because she loved our stuff and for the first time vintage and handmade clothes fit her.”
Doyle said they make clothing from petite sizes up to a size 20 equivalency, and she and Oxenfeld are serious about making customers feel confident in the clothing they make.
“We want our customers to feel special and unique in their clothes,” said Oxenfeld. “There’s nothing better than seeing someone rock their own unique style.”
For now the best place to check out SweetCycle Apparel is online at www.sweetcycleapparel.com or at Leo Handmade Gallery and Boutique on Frazier Avenue, but in the future people can make appointments at the studio to try clothing on, said Doyle.