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International local exposure
by Jialin Luh on Aug 10, 2006
Fabric8 -- the immaculately and whimsically furnished brick and mortar store -- opened in January of this year, evolving from an online-only boutique that has been in operation for the last ten years. Store proprietors Olivia Ongpin and Anthony Quintal created Fabric8 in 1995 to showcase local designers and bring them global exposure. Their offerings include collectible art, clothing, home furnishings, vinyl records, toys and other knick-knacks all with a flavorful spin. Most of the designers are either local or used to be, and many of the products are limited edition.
Situated on 22nd between Valencia and Guerrero, the crafty display window arranged by local artist Sirron Norris begs entrance to the shop. Setting foot into the Astroturfed, vintage-wallpapered bright space encourages exploration of all the treasures displayed here. Immediately on your left is Romanowski’s “installation/yard sale”-- an amalgamation of original art and kitschy vintage finds.
While Romanowski is probably best known as a local DJ, his artistic talent clearly reaches beyond the turntables. Some of his very affordable blue pieces feature designs spray paint-stenciled over sheet music. The recurring 45 adapter stencils and various circular designs evoking headshells speak to his love of DJing. In his corner you’ll also find toys of a bygone era, belt buckles, old ID cases, and whatever, really. But somehow it all works. All the pieces in this corner may be purchased separately or the whole ensemble can be purchased for $10,000 including installation. Romanowski also provides bins of vinyl from his personal collection to sell. Crate digging on Astroturf has never been so pleasant.
At the back of the shop is an art gallery with enchanting permanent wood stain murals done on the floor, walls and ceiling by Norris, Brian Barneclo, Ferris Plock, Ursula Young and Nomzee. Opt for a limited edition print averaging $60 or go 40 bucks more for an original 8x8 canvas -- these go for $100 a pop. Current prints for sale range in price from $30-125 and feature work by Barneclo, Hannah Stouffer, Romanowski and Mars-1. 8x8s currently are currently available by UFO!, Buder, Ian Scalzo, and C Lee Sobieski to name a few.
Various art books can also be picked up here including signed copies Convergence ($50) with the works of Damon Soule, David Choong Lee, Mars-1, Brett Amory, Nome Edonna and Oliver Vernon, and the Jeremy Fish book I’m With Stupid. Soule’s incredible mixed media on wood box pieces range from $200-300 and Amory’s mixed media in resin pieces range from $300-475. And for a truly personal, one-of-a-kind gift or addition to your own collection, Sirron Norris may be commissioned to paint any Edwardian or Victorian in San Francisco on a wooden model. This includes his trademark animated style done up on all surfaces to reflect the front, sides, back and roof of the building.
At Fabric8 art can range from $5 to $2,000 so beginner collectors should feel right at home alongside the more seasoned/affluent. In terms of wearable art, the clothing is all quite affordable. Clothing for babies and toddlers here is some of the best I’ve encountered yet: onesies, tees and hoodies by New Skool splashed with screen printed headphones, mics and speakers, and bright screen printed tees from Interracial depicting Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Einstein, Gandhi and Bruce Lee in colors that pop. Lines carried for men and women’s clothing include Kaching, Ben Collison, Gama Go, Mollusk, Ropeadope and Ferris Plock. Tres Royale does some sweet track jackets and Shizert offers simple tees depicting neighborhoods and streets of SF. The standout in men’s and women’s tees for me were those by LA outfit Zofisto. Fabric8 is the first store to carry Zofisto clothing, but then again that’s often been the case.
Over the last 10 years Ongpin and Quintal have started as the starting point for many up-and-coming artists and bringing their art to the world. One such case was NaCo -- a duo originally hailing from Los Angeles that now operates out of Mexico City. Coined by Ongpin as the “Vanguard of Latino favored” design, NaCo started with cheeky sayings done on vintage-feeling t-shirts. Despite big fame (actor Diego Luna invested in them and they’ve designed their own Vans), NaCo retains Fabric8 as its exclusive online distributor. Most recently their line features soccer jerseys (in the spirit of World Cup) with more of the cheekiness they’re known for.
In the toy department Manuel “Gonz One” Gonzales provides some of the most unique creatures you will find: his aMonster is a hand-sewn plush creature with embedded speakers so you can plug in your MP3 player, CD player, or any device with a headphone jack and voila! Emanation from the belly. These retail for $80. Gonzales’ “Little Love Midgets” are one-of-a-kind plush dolls made from vintage fabrics and buttons. He hand sews them all in the Lower Haight.
Fabric8 has seen the evolution of many artists who have started at T-shirts and gone on to intricate canvases, murals, and full-fledged companies. The shop instrumental to growing the artists’ fan bases all over the world. With customers from Sweden, Malta, Portugal, the Philippines and Japan to name a few places, we are lucky to have a physical location to immerse ourselves in independent design. It should also be noted that the art offered in the shop is not available in the online boutique, so come on down!
by Jialin Luh on Aug 10, 2006