3 Bay Area Designers on the Rise, and Shining
A spring look from Hygge Design. (Dave Medal)

3 Bay Area Designers on the Rise, and Shining


We cannot get enough of their magical shoes, lip-smackingly sweet bags, and wear-everywhere kimonos.

There's no dearth of design talent round these (Northern Cali) parts. But up-and-coming labels Dopp, Claflin, Thayer & Co., and Hygge Design demanded top spots on our we-need-to-know-more list. Below, find Q+As with three local designers who are making the objects of our affection. Learn how they got started, what sets their brands apart and, yeah!, where you can get your hands on the goods.

Shoe designer Shayla Dopp.(Ben Kist)

Shayla Dopp, founder of Dopp Shoes

It's a fact: Dopp shoes are utterly dope. And by that we mean those who crave comfortable, cool, and "wildly simple" leather heels will fall hard for Oakland designer Shayla Dopp's collection. Celebrating its first birthday this August, the brand's secret sauce includes exceptional craftsmanship, stunning colors, and whimsical (not gimmicky) sustainable wood heels ($325–$425). Plus, the Santa Cruz native's years studying and working in fashion in Paris are reflected in each pair with a shot of je ne sais quoi baked in.

7x7: Long story short, how'd you get here?

Shayla Dopp: "My mom recently has been giving me drawings from my childhood and I can see the beginning of it all in those drawings—color, form, outlandish footwear, it's all in there. I made my own clothes for a while, then studied fashion in Paris for a year in my early 20s...

In the Bay Area, I've been in the styling world for years, and it took me ages to make my first shoe. Once I did, I was addicted to the smell of leather in my hair after a day's work and the cutting, the stretching. I love the soft trade aspect of shoemaking. I took a business class at Renaissance Entrepreneurship in SF, did a one-on-one prototype week at the Shoe College, made shoes on my own in a container for a year, then drove to L.A. determined to find a factory."

7x7: What distinguishes your brand from others?

SD: "The craftsmanship that goes into the shoes is remarkable, and I studied the science of comfort of my own shoes and my friends' to ensure that'd they'd be easy to wear. It's also very personal; the styles are all named after someone who has believed in me, and the colors are named for what I'm going through at the time. For example, the first collection was named after my fiancé, Ben Kist (who's also my photographer), and the colors are: blood, sweat, tears and asphalt—a nod to the work that went into getting the ball rolling."

7x7: Signature item...

SD: "The Cindy heel, inspired by my mother who's obsessed with the Egyptian pyramids."

7x7: What's next at Dopp?

SD: "A belt, a sandal, a flat, an oxford, and then a boot."

7x7: Fun fact...

SD: "After I started making shoes my cousin told me our family used to make clogs in Denmark, so it's in my blood."

// Shop Dopp shoes IRL at the Bouquet Spring Market (Berkeley) onApril 14 and at Femme Fair (Mission) on April 21; Dopp is also available online at dopp.city.

Accessories designer Liz Thayer.(Courtesy of @claflinthayer)

Liz Thayer, founder of Claflin, Thayer & Co.

Liz Thayer's lips are something to shout about. The Berkeley designer's pout-shaped leather bags (with perfect Cupid's bow, natch) come in several colors, two sizes, and pack one powerful punch. Handmade leather jackets available in Thayer's five-month-old Oakland studio-cum-shop, where she makes everything herself from start to finish, also have us salivating. Claflin, Thayer & Co. pays homage to Thayer's family boot and shoe biz of the same name; it was established in NYC in 1830 and closed 100 years later. (Check out the original storefront sign in Liz's retail space.)

7x7: Long story short, how'd you get here?

Liz Thayer: "My mom taught me to sew as a kid, and I always knew I wanted to do something creative as a job. After college, I did a one-year program in shoe and accessory design in New York and began working as a designer after that. I moved back to the Bay Area, where I'm from, in 2007 and started making leather jackets and bags for fun while working full-time as a shoe designer. It's been an ongoing side project ever since—until I finally decided to give it a real go. I quit my job in August (2017) and opened a leather goods-focused retail shop and workspace in Oakland's Temescal Alley in December."

7x7: Give us your elevator pitch.

LT: "Jackets and bags made in Oakland from exceptional leathers, built-to-last and timeless, with a bit of fun mixed in. Special but unpretentious."

7x7: Signature item...

LT: "A raglan-sleeve motorcycle-style jacket and lips-shaped bags."

7x7: Your go-to uniform...

LT: "High school boy from the '80s…jeans, old T-shirt, Vans, jacket, beanie."

7x7: Favorite item in your jewelry box?

LT: "A custom-made gold signet ring by my friend Chris Neff. I've never been a fancy jewelry person, but this is a really special piece. He engraved the initials in the same style as an antique piece from my grandmother."

7x7: Fun fact...

LT: "I was once an extra in an E-40 video and got a blurry split second of screen time—dream come true!"

// Shop IRL at Claflin Thayer & Co., 470 49th St., Suite E (Oakland), and online at claflinthayer.com.

Designer Lisa Fontaine and Hygge cofounder Erin Wallace.(Courtesy of Hygge Design)

Lisa Fontaine + Erin Wallace, Hygge Design

Erin Wallace's quest to find the just-right denim kimono jacket is the reason Hygge Design exists. More than a year ago, she reached out to designer acquaintance Lisa Wallace to help bring her dream layer to life. Needless to say, the sartorial collab was a hit, and a new minimalist-leaning womenswear label was born. Designed in Oakland and made from natural fabrics in San Francisco, the label features a sharp collection of tops, dresses and, yes, various iterations of the sought-after kimono. Prices fall in the $120–$220 range.

7x7: Give us your brand elevator pitch.

LF: "We founded the company on the idea that an uncomplicated piece of clothing can be surprising, modern, and compulsively wearable."

7x7: What distinguishes your brand from others?

LF: "Challenging ideas of proportion and layering is a big part of our designs; if there's a proportion "should," we've likely broken it."

7x7: What's next?

LF: "For the first time this season, we are working with a local dye house to create a custom palette for our spring line. We also just launched our first pair of pants, and are thrilled to be able to wear head-to-toe Hygge!"

7x7: Bay Area roots...

LF: "I grew up in Santa Cruz and live and work in the Berkeley Hills. I also co-own the lifestyle boutique Morningtide in Albany. Erin grew up all over the place as an Air Force brat, but has lived in Oakland far longer than anywhere else. She works in San Francisco at a digital marketing agency."

7x7: Design heroes...

LF: "Tilda Swinton is an eternal source of design, styling and life inspiration."

7x7: Fun facts...

LF: "I love making ceramics and traveling. My family—husband and three kids—spent a year living in the French countryside. Erin has a bearded dragon named Raindrop, a part-time dog named Mango, two tweens, and two jobs that keep her way too busy."

// Shop Hygge IRL at Gather, 541 Octavia St. (Hayes Valley) as well as other select Bay Area boutiques, and online at hyggedesign.xyz.

(David Medal)

Hygge's striped canvas kimono ($198).

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