By Michelle Frost

The buzz in fashion this spring is a new mix-up of streetwear and art. Whether it’s shoes, casual wear or evening gowns, people are ready for styles that pronounce individualism.

Croghan + Kraft is a brand-new collaboration of two artists who are creating more unique styles, bringing together the fashion design of dressmaker Suzanne Kraft with the art designs of painter and musician Hall of Famer Sean Croghan, Portland native and former pizza cook at Atlas Pizza, which is where this story begins.

“When I first met Suzanne, she had little kids working in a sweatshop,” Croghan laughs. “It was a kids’ sewing class,” Kraft adds. “I was a pizza cook working next door at Atlas Pizza and she was over here sewing clothes.

Kraft was born in Washington, D.C. and moved to Portland in 1997. Her education in art, painting and later, fashion design included studies at Syracuse and then London College of Fashion.

“After graduation, I decided to try Portland for a year, before I would live and work in New York.  I moved to Portland in ‘97 and lived on NW 23rd. It was just too easy,” she smiles, “so I stayed!”

Kraft opened donna & toots, a dress shop and fabric store on NE Alberta St. in 2001. It relocated to 3574 SE Division St. seven years ago. donna & toots is a cozy shop, approx. 800 square feet, offering custom fabrics  and designs, notions and accessories, and classes for all ages including children 8 and older.

Croghan and Kraft bring different skills to their partnership. “I rely on his popularity to help get the word out,” Kraft explains. From Croghan: “Suzanne has already invested so much into building her business, I want to bring what I can to help make it a success.

“Like with my band’s collaboration in making music, where I can jump around and be loosey-goosey because the percussion and rhythm keep a structure going, it’s the same working with Suzanne’s more organized and structured design,” he explained.

Croghan paints fabric in his home studio, inspired by anything and everything with no pre-set design ideas. Then he returns the fabric to Kraft and she begins creating her new designs of wallets, cushions, and clothing.

“Their philosophy is innovative and inclusive. “From t-shirts to one-of-a-kind dresses, we strive to create men and women’s fashions that are original, and capture the spirit of Portland,” says Croghan.  See croghankraft.com.

There’s more spring fashion news from Sarah at Fyberworks: “More sunshine means time in the garden, picnics in the park and walks on the beach and Fyberworks Boutique is celebrating the return of spring by stocking wardrobe essentials in natural fibers.

“Especially exciting are the easy to wear, Myla and Poppy dresses from Tulip. Made of 100% cotton in a variety of floral and novelty prints, these dresses have pockets and pleating details.

These pieces will become wardrobe staples in warm weather. These and all Tulip clothing are 10% off during the month of April. You’ll find linen dresses, pants and tops from favorites like FLAX and Cut Loose. Discover the breathable, stylish designs of natural fiber clothing for spring.” See fyberworks.com

Of course, it isn’t a fashion sensation without new shoes! Lauren Garrison gave a tour of Imelda’s shoes for women and Louie’s shoes for men, two shoestores nestled together in the heart of the Hawthorne district.

Garrison is a Washington native and understands what is required of footwear in the Pacific Northwest.

“Portland is a functional lady,” she smiles. “We sell tons of Dansko, functional yet stylish. But the number one shoe for everyone, all ages, men and women, is a good sneaker. It’s our number one seller, from casual to a little more chic – it’s a huge category.”

Also popular for this spring are the new trendy slides and mules.  “They’re cute but you can actually do things in them!”

A few top-selling brands to note include Ten Points, designed in Sweden. These classic clog styles are made with vegetable-tanned leathers. OROX Leather Company makes bags, wallets, and hats in Old Town Portland. Intentionally is a fairly new brand that offers a variety of hip, young styles.

“Color trends for spring are blushes and nudes, and muted colors – more neutral,” as Garrison points out a selection of leather handbags. “They go with everything and have a classic look.”

“For men shopping at Louie’s, we offer these Blundstone leather boots, a good year-round low boot that’s waterproof. We carry a great selection of sneakers for men (number one seller for men as well); a good sneaker for spring and summer. We have casual, cotton styles, and canvas that breathes.”

In addition, Louie’s offers a unique selection of new watches by Kapten & Son, a selection of silver jewelry, and sunglasses created by Shwood Handcrafted, a Portland company featuring sunglasses with wood accents, including a popular style of wood Wayfarers. See shop.imeldas.com

SE Portland has an abundance of local boutiques and designers who are ready and waiting to help us gussy-up for spring.

Shop local and support these hard-working creative neighbors in our community.