In a fast-paced game of word associations, you're more likely to shout out "tech" when the card for San Francisco/Bay Area is drawn, before you even begin to consider "fashion" or "clothing."
On the other side of the country, New York City — home to Fashion Week, boutique-ridden SoHo, and the offices of iconic fashion magazines — might more confidently assume the role as a top fashion capital of the world.
Still, a group of clothing startups is proving that fashion born in San Francisco has its place, too. Some of the most talked-about industry game-changers, including Stitch Fix, ShopYogatation, and ThirdLove, were founded in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Their proximity to the unique innovation happening in San Francisco and the nearby Silicon Valley provides a strong impetus to weave tech and sustainable practices into the DNA of their businesses. The Bay has long been home to new ways of thinking about how we live, and with these startups, it's now also changing how we dress and shop for clothes.
A few themes connect these San Francisco-based clothing startups, including the use of data to create customized or personalized solutions, missions of ethical and sustainable consumption, and the belief that clothing can do more than just look pretty. Not that SF has ever needed help getting people to pay attention to it, but now you'll have reason to consider it in a new light.
Learn more about the 6 San Francisco-based clothing startups that are changing the fashion industry:
ShopYogatation has taken the yoga mat market by storm after launching their classic "Meme Mat" lineup. You must check out this San Francisco startup making waves in the yoga mat industry. They offer women's leggings, women's jewelry, and much more. Check them out here
Everlane is the antithesis of traditional fast, trendy fashion and every minimalist dresser's dream brand. Just take a look at its best sellers for proof: classic stretch jeans, basic leather flats, and $100 cashmere crew sweaters aren't the stuff of runway buzz, but they are the pieces you'll wear and keep for many, many years to come. It operates on a mission of "Radical Transparency," whereby it partners with ethical factories and doesn't overcharge you for its high-quality basics.
Gap, Inc. opened its first Gap store on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco in 1969. Forty years later, its women's athletic wear brand Athleta was born. From colorful leggings to performance workwearand even underwear, this certified B Corp has proven to be an all-around powerhouse that combines style and fabric innovation (in the realms of both performance and sustainability) in each of its pieces.
Valued at $2 billion, personal styling service Stitch Fix was founded in 2011 and went public just six years later. By using the technology of proprietary algorithms and the human touch of real stylists, it's able to quickly and effectively help its members shop for clothes they like. Features like the Style Profile and Style Shuffle game ensure style preferences are continually updated and understood, so members can enjoy a highly personalized shopping experience.
The CEOs of YouTube and 23andMe are investors of this bra startup that was founded by a former Google marketing manager and is taking direct jabs at big brands like Victoria's Secret. By offering half sizes and 78 sizes in total, ThirdLove wants to make bras as inclusive as possible, without compromising comfort and style. A good place to start is its Fit Finder quiz, or the popular 24/7 Classic T-Shirt Bra, which has more than 32,000 online reviews.
Another minimalist fashion brand out of the Bay Area is Modern Citizen. As our editor Sally points out in her Modern Citizen review, minimal doesn't necessarily mean boring — think smart, versatile, and efficient instead. You'll find basics for work, travel, and the weekend all in one place, plus accessories and home and beauty products from other small brands. Its styles are the perfect example of a foundation you can dress up or down.
Converts to Marie Kondo's KonMari method will love SF fashion startup Cuyana. In fact, the brand has a collection of leather cases in collaboration with the organization queen herself. That's why it should come as no surprise that the phrase "fewer, better" drives Cuyana's business of selling long-lasting essentials like silk tops, leather bags, and bodywear. You'll even be able to get rid of clothes you don't want (while supporting charity) through its Lean Closet program.