Style On The Go With Fashion Wheelies

Meghan Cleary

Fashion is suddenly going mobile from Portland to Atlanta, and although there’s an easy comparison to be made with the rising popularity of food trucks, this aesthetic trend seems to be more of a consumer-driven concept. Retailers have been experimenting with new shopping experiences to survive in a global economy that demands richer, more intimate shopping experiences on a hyper-local basis, and this latest alternative uniquely includes flatbed trucks, refurbished airstreams and vintage buses.

Cynthia Rowley, a pioneer of the mobile fashion movement, began with her trailer at Art Basel in 2009. “I believe in the accessibility of fashion at every level,” she explains, and, sure enough, the flexibility of her “Mobile Fashion Unit” allows shoppers to have the store come to them—or even host a shopping party in their driveway. “The Mobile Fashion Unit allows us a greater understanding of markets all over the country, where we don’t have a physical store presence,” adds Rowley’s PR director, Elyssa Dimant. “Getting this kind of rich perspective on what resonates with consumers is really key for us.”

Wanderlust, meanwhile, was inspired by co-owners Vanessa and Dan Lurie’s twin love of the local food trucks in their native Portland and of vintage goods. Last year, they bought a 10′ x 7′, 1969 Cardinal Deluxe trailer, refurbished it and stocked it with a stunningly curated mix of decor and apparel goods sourced from local, international and online vendors alike. “I hear from customers how cozy it is inside and that it feels like a little gypsy caravan,” says Vanessa. “Everyone who comes inside tends to look at every single item, like they’re on a treasure hunt.” Those items include carefully selected pieces like sustainable design from Showpony, Present and Correct‘s printed goods, miniatures from Etsy seller Vector Cloud, work by artist Mary Kate McDevitt and Vanessa’s own line of paper curios, Antelope Baby. True to its name, Wanderlust will travel the West Coast, stopping in Seattle and San Francisco next.

Lodekka, another Portland vendor, fittingly bills itself as “the double-decker dress shop.” After Erin Sutherland, the store’s proprietor, lost her day job in PR in April, she bought a double-decker bus that originally hailed from Liverpool and refurbished it as a dress store. “Sales have been really plentiful, and [even] guys and kids stop in just to check out the actual bus,” she notes. Although the bus doesn’t travel, it’s filled with enough vintage and resale apparel, shoes and other ephemera—from antique dress shields to record albums, matchbooks and games—to keep visitors locally invested.

Fashion Los Angeles, a new organization determined to revive LA Fashion Week in a serious way, was launched by partners Michael Venedicto and Jeff Warrington in early 2009. The duo plans to create a village of temporary pre-fab buildings on top of a parking lot. Trucked in for the week only, the pre-fabs will be paired with other mobile runways like flatbed trucks during the week-long installation. With support from the LA mayor’s office, it looks like these mobile fashion units will be a unique destination for West Coast fashionistas come February.

There is one comment on Style On The Go With Fashion Wheelies:

  1. I love this concept. It allows people to interact with fashion in a potentially new way. Plus, the funk associated with the van and trailor emphasize the creative juices that go into the best fashion.

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun! More fun than just driving around in a RV when you are retired, this actually allows you to feel “retired” without the use of a retirement fund, as you are making a living.

    It is interesting to see this DIY concept featured on your site, which is high end, but nonetheless I appreciate it, as it shows that many of us turn things around for ourselves and get creative.

    This way of selling and moving could gather valuable information about demographics, sales and traffic in different locations to determine which locations might be a good choice for a brick and mortar store.

  3. Cool article, but that Wonderlust trailer seems like a bit of a rip off of this other vintage trailer store i photographed a while back called The Haberdash ( I believe she’s been in a business for a few years too. The interwebs seems to be becoming a bit unoriginal.

  4. The real pioneer of this movement is Amy “Punky” Chase of Haberdash Vintage in Boston/Worcester, who opened her mobile vintage store in a Bellwood Aloha in 2007. Everyone else is just copying her, and some of them (one mentioned above) are doing it knowingly without giving her any credit for her creativity or hard work. There’s no style or class in that.

  5. Pingback: Mobile Fashion | Chicago Local Discounts

  6. Hi! I just wanted to respond to the ‘rip-off’ comments.
    As we say on our ‘about’ page and here, we were inspired to start our shop by the tremendous amount of food carts here in Portland. We came up with the idea of a traveling shop and found out about Haberdash after googling to see if one existed in Portland. Unfortunately, Haberdash is on the east coast and doesn’t travel to Portland Oregon and so we didn’t think we were stepping on any toes.
    Sorry if we’ve offended anyone, we say the more cute shops the better!

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