It’s a cliché in the creative world: a “fresh face” emerges to rapturous acclaim, despite the years of experience and hard work before their arrival “out of nowhere.” Leonard Cohen published a novel and several books of poetry, and penned a hit for Judy Collins, before he released an album of his own at age 33. (“Hallelujah” came 17 years later.) Similarly, the current darling of Portland’s style circuit, 35-year-old designer Andrea Moore, may have the local fashion world buzzing with her neutral black-and-white palette, expertly sewn layering pieces, and thoughtful details—but she’s spent her entire life working up to this point.
Sewing nonstop since the home economics classes of her New Hampshire childhood, Moore earned a degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising at the Univeristy of North Carolina at Greensboro. The program emphasized textile sciences, allowing the now-16-year vegan to understand sustainable options that aren’t animal dependent—wool and silk need not apply—while also providing a mastery in fabric knowledge evident in her designs. After school she specialized in merchandising and getting new retail locations off the ground, working for bigwigs such as Converse, American Apparel, and H&M while ping-ponging from Las Vegas to New York and finally landing in Los Angeles.
“That experience was so important to me,” she says. “To own my shop was my dream, but I needed to understand what went into that from the business side. So it was very intentional.”
In 2013, Moore was finally ready: she took her tax refund, found a studio in downtown LA’s Fashion District, and launched Moore Custom Goods, a vegan, sustainable line of modern men’s and women’s wear.
With the connections she had made with stylists in her retail years, she created custom wardrobe pieces for magazine editorials. Then there was a stint dressing VJs for Revolt TV, a music channel started by Sean Combs. At the same time she reconnected with an old coworker from Converse who had moved to Nike. In September 2014, she moved to Portland to marry him (she now goes by Andrea Moore Beaulieu), trading her LA loft for an Active-space studio on NW Lovejoy Street. The 200-square-foot room housed her sewing machines, a curtained-off dressing room, and retail space. She opened her doors and got to work figuring out us Portlanders.
Moore set up Yelp accounts, made an unilluminating trip to Saturday Market, and followed local designers like Rogue Minx on Instagram, all to chase the Portland fashion market. “Everyone is so open here it is unbelievable,” she says of her attempts to find her customer base. In New York and Los Angeles, she says, “No one wants to tell you anything. If you ask a question, people just scoff and say, ‘Good luck.’” Through attending events and peppering fabric store staff members with questions, she learned about our various fashion shows and set about conquering them. In 18 months she hit them all: showing at RAW, Alley 33, and Fade to Light, and winning designer competitions at Modified Style, FashioNXT, and the Portland Fashion & Style Awards. Critics and customers alike fell hard.
Now the prolific designer plans to keep expanding her brand and is currently seeking a bigger space, one that could grow into a production facility for both her line and for other growing lines in town to help them take the leap from dream to reality.
Can I get a “Hallelujah”?