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Shops Play it Low Key for Downtown Fashion Walk

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We popped by the inaugural Downtown Fashion Walk last night to find a relatively low-key scene—shops open late, but not exactly throwing parties; clusters of map-wielding shoppers strolling down the streets, but not clogging up the sidewalks. As many of the shopkeepers told us, it takes time to build up an ArtWalk scale following, and because they expected a comparatively small crowd, they decided to keep things fairly quiet on the first night to gauge guests' reactions—not to mention that shops like Skin.Graft, M'ouments and Apliiq all said they were still recovering from a particularly boisterous ArtWalk the week before. That being said, there were so many shops participating over an area of nine blocks that we only managed to make it to a handful of the 30 events that were going on—a spread that also could have made crowds seem smaller than they were.

After visiting the Skin.Graft/M'ouments/Fremont triumverate on W. 4th Street, we headed over to the Pacific Electric Building, where a handful of indie designers were represented, selling to the sounds of a violinist playing MGMT. Rhys Dwfen and Jenny Han had set up pop-up stores next door, with Han reporting that although the stream of shoppers was small, just about everyone who came into the shop ended up buying.

Interestingly enough, the buzziest shop we visited was one that doesn't actually open until next month—one in the ground floor of the SB lofts, overseen by Takashi Masuda, who used to run a shop called Kapsoul on Melrose Ave. A small crowd of hipsters and pretty young things were fawning over a selection of vintage sunglasses, Vanilla Ice action dolls, and real Venus Fly Traps, clutching cans of Tecate and bopping to the sounds of old-school hip hop. We spoke with party guest Jeffrey Chernick, who lamented the fact that more stores didn't have live music and bottomless booze a la ArtWalk, going on to say "You can go to the best party in the world, but if there's only five people there, the energy's going to be completely different." On one hand, it would make sense to combine Fashion Walk with ArtWalk to capitalize on the crowds—or at least give an extra week's breathing room in between. But, on the other, it was already impossible to see all the Fashion Walk events we wanted to see, and adding all of the ArtWalk parties in would probably make them get lost in the shuffle. Either way, it'll be interesting to see how it all progresses from here.
· All Downtown Fashion Walk Coverage [Racked]
· Downtown Fashion Walk [Official Site]