House of Blues

Renowned jeans boutique Blake finds the perfect fit in its bigger, better home.

By Eden Dawn April 22, 2011 Published in the May 2011 issue of Portland Monthly

BLAKE NIEMAN-DAVIS has made a business out ?of butts. Specifically, making yours look good in a pair of jeans. Since first opening his NW 23rd Avenue boutique, Blake, in 2003, the 41-year-old has earned a reputation as a kind of denim demigod with a knack for sizing up shoppers in a second and handing them the perfect pair.

“I want this to be the best-fitting jean they’ve ever had,” Nieman-Davis says. “If I don’t have what they need, I’ll send them off with nothing, because that’s better.”

But with last summer’s opening of Blake’s new, bigger space just off W Burnside Street, there’s little chance of customers going home empty-handed. The 3,700-square-foot shop holds more than 30 denim brands, from premium staples like Seven and Joe’s to harder-to-find designs like Kicking Mule and Edwin. And when Pendleton debuts its Portland Collection in the fall, Blake will be one of only two west-side boutiques to carry the line. “Collaborations between smaller local businesses are the wave of the future,” says Nieman-Davis. “They create innovative shopping experiences that will allow these smaller retailers to compete with the big box stores.”

To that end, Nieman-Davis enlisted local design firm Compressed Pattern to help weave bricolage from the architectural salvage company Aurora Mills into Blake’s décor for an authentic, lived-in feel, with items like old world maps and a 1910 carousel horse (all available for purchase). And this month, Blake will partner with Southeast’s Water Avenue Coffee to open a coffee shop in the store’s greenhouse area, so you can perk up your senses while Blake perks up your, um, posterior.

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