4 local fashion designers to keep on your radar

The Phoenix climate may be notoriously arid, but our fashion scene is surprisingly less dry.

Although we may not have the shining lights and potential of New York or the timeless glam of Paris, the Valley is filled with chic and talented designers that are well worth the time to check out.

Misha Mendicino

It's not uncommon for artists to be inspired by the natural world and all its creatures, but Phoenix-based designer Misha Mendicino takes it to a new level. 

Mendicino said her love for elephants started at a young age and escalated to such an extent that she chose to marry it with her passion for uniquely beautiful design. She said she is using her self-titled line of resort wear to "create a legacy of helping elephants" through its partnership with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Five percent of her sales are donated to the trust, helping secure a safer and better future for the elephants she holds dear to her heart. 

Mendicino's charitable business model and island-inspired resort wear led to her being named Phoenix Fashion Week's 2014 designer of the year. 

Although she said her love for Hawaii inspired the structure of her line overall; her designs are just as influenced by her day-to-day life.

"I gain inspiration from everywhere I look," Mendicino said. "Sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks, and I have to pull over and write something down."

Mendicino's fast initiation into the local fashion scene taught her about the complex nuances of the business side of fashion, and she encouraged aspiring college-aged designers to remain diligent and committed.

"Do your research and really pay attention to what you love," she said. "I don't necessarily think about what's selling or what's on trend; I go by my gut instincts and ask what I would like to wear."

Mendicino's studio is located at 1943 W. North Lane in Phoenix.

5 Two 3

A photo posted by Brittany & Karah (@5two3) on

According to its website, the best friend team behind 5 Two 3 started selling exclusively handmade headbands and quickly evolved their brand into a full line of "comfortable, easy to care for, babe worthy clothes."

The brand is a personal favorite of Business of Fashion's communication director Allyson Taylor, who said in an email that it is one of a few brands that stand out to her in spite of the local design community still being small. 

5 Two 3 is currently moving out of its Old Town Scottsdale location, but can be found at a number of independent retailers around the Valley, including The Madison TempeKaleidoscope Juice and Crush Boutique

Lousy Rich 

Like many artists, Breanna Schoonover's story had humble beginnings. Long before her "Lousy Rich" line was roaming the runways of Phoenix and New York Fashion Weeks, her kindergarten self was tracing her body outline onto her grandmother's sheets, cutting gowns out of them and roaming around the house. 

Fashion soon became an outlet for her, and Schoonover said she was inspired by her own wedding and time at FIDM to create her own "urban chic" line.

Schoonover said her spring/summer 2016 line, Maxed Out, is designed for "the modern girl who doesn't need a million bucks to look like a million bucks."

"Lousy Rich" consists of ready-to-wear and made-to-order items, and Schoonover said she prides herself on the fact that everything in her ready-to-wear collection is $99 or less. 

"There's no one thing that inspires me," she said. "Everything inspires me — the girl pumping gas next to me, something I see on the red carpet, something I don't normally see in the world. ... My styles are pulled in from everyday life."

Schoonover said the vision and design behind "Lousy Rich" were strongly inspired by her personal journey, and now reflect a style she deems "westside downtown meets uptown Scottsdale."

That vision and drive led her to be hand-selected by last year's Phoenix Fashion Week committee for their emerging designers collection.

"Lousy Rich" can be found at Schoonover's studio at 30th Street and Thunderbird Road in Phoenix and at boutiques in California and around the Valley, including Blush Boutique. Schoonover also said she takes on interns frequently. 

Clutch Jewelry

According to Clutch Jewelry's website, CEO and creative director Stacy Eden has a "passion for art, power tools and historical significance," three concepts that she masterfully blends together to create pieces that are simultaneously bold and delicate. 

The site said Eden learned how to goldsmith during her time at Northern Arizona University, and named her collection of versatile, handmade jewelry after her grandfather's passion for racing and restoring classic motorcycles. 

Clutch has produced a series of eccentric editorial photo shoots to showcase the dual purposes of many of its pieces, like rings doubling as pendants, necklaces as crowns and crowns as belts. 

Clutch has not only powered through the local fashion scene with accolades like Phoenix Fashion Week's accessory designer of the year, but has also been featured in Vogue Italia and on boss ladies Janelle Monae and Tina Knowles-Lawson. 

Shop Clutch's selections online and check out its blog.

Related links:

Local designer Vara Ayanna brings bold expressions and inclusivity to fabric of fashion industry

Fashion degree program to style a new generation of Sun Devils starting fall 2017


Reach the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or follow @lina_lauren on Twitter.

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