The Cognoscente: Behind the Scenes With Fashion Journalist Lorraine Sanders

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Think San Francisco lacks in style? Lorraine Sanders begs to differ. The local writer has covered every square inch of San Francisco's thriving fashion scene for over 10 years. From her popular blog, SF Indie Fashion, to her latest endeavor interviewing those at the "intersection of fashion, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and technology" for the Spirit of 608 podcast, Lorraine is an expert on San Francisco style. 


We sat down with the local expert to talk fashion, tech, and San Francisco. 

Early on, I was ... a copywriter at Travelocity, a blogger for Kayak.com, and a guidebook writer. I actually had no training in fashion, and I still am the last person you should ask about what came down the runway recently. In 2006, I started a blog called SF Indie Fashion, a place for people to find out about local designers, sample sales, and fashion events. It was really because of that site that people started asking me to write about fashion.

I’ve always loved ... style. I'm fascinated with the way cultural trends affect the way people dress–especially in creative or underground scenes. I’ve also been obsessed with where things come from and how they are made since I was in high school.

I've written for...the San Francisco Chronicle, 7x7, Fast Company, Women’s Wear Daily, and Men’s Journal. I pretty much exclusively write about fashion these days, but I focus on the nerdier side. I love the behind-the-scenes stuff, from how entrepreneurs build fashion businesses to ecommerce trends to what’s happening in the fibers of high-tech textiles. 

Why the Spirit of 608? It's a reference to Matthew Robins’ 1985 movie The Legend of Billie Jean, in which a “Texas teenager cuts her hair short and becomes an outlaw martyr with her brother and friends.” I’m a child of the 80s, and this movie – along with many others of that era—formed narratives in my mind that have never gone away. There’s an element of Billie Jean Davey in each of the cool women I interview for the Spirit of 608 podcast.

I’m happiest when ... I can showcase really cool, badass things that are happening in the world, that I think other people should know about.

After a stint working for a startup last year ... I fell in love with podcasts and audio as a way to create an intimate connection with people. 

Guests on your podcasts have included...Who What Wear co-founder Katherine Power, Julie Wainwright of The RealReal, Zady co-founder Maxine Bedat, Third Wave Fashion’s Liza Kindred, Emma McIlroy of Wildfang and a bunch more. Expect interviews from amazing ladies at Poshmark, Rocksbox, EnjoyEssential, Kayu Design, Modern Citizen, Les Mechantes and many others to roll out this fall.

The Spirit of 608 podcast is all about... helping women and companies that further fashion in way that’s positive for people, communities, and the environment by bringing them a mix of stories and advice. Being an entrepreneur is tough stuff, and I think it helps to hear from other women who are in the trenches.

My favorite fashion publications...Who What Wear has fabulous eye-candy without being snarky or shaming celebrities, and I am a faithful subscriber to Third Wave Fashion magazine, which is focused on the intersection of fashion and technology. I also pay attention to what’s happening with Florum and the imagery in Disfunkshion magazine blows me away, and I also like their in-your-face but still beautiful approach to fashion.

Fashion and tech are... need each other. As with any industry trying to integrate new technology, there are growing pains. Things are not perfect on the first go-around. But when you step back and look at how technology has changed—the efficiency of manufacturing and production, ease of selling direct to consumers, shipping and marketing of fashion products—well, there have been hugely impactful strides made over the last decade.

People should talk more about.. the sustainable or eco-positive benefits of 3D printing or additive manufacturing. They don’t get much airtime, but are insanely interesting and cool and hopeful.

San Francisco's strength is... a willingness to experiment and innovate and create and try new things. From a business perspective, SF is also a good place to be if you’re trying to attract money to help fund those new things.


And SF's weakness .... There are lots of pockets of people doing different things around the Bay Area, and they all keep to their own groups. You rarely see much crossover from group to group. 


San Franciscans... have great style. I don’t care what anyone from some publication outside the Bay Area says when they drop in to do an article on how much we love hoodies. I see inventive, creative, and amazing twists on style all the time, and I love people-watching and checking out how locals mix high and low and old and new and mainstream and underground to comprise what are so often very unique looks. P.S. I also love hoodies.

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