Style Spotlight

Portland Designer Lindsey Reif Is Trying to Make 'LoBro' a Thing

The womenswear designer has opened a sunlit showroom in Northeast's Lower Broadway area—and hopes other makers join in.

By Eden Dawn December 4, 2018

The new Reif Haus studio

NoPo. LoBu. Now, Portland designer Lindsey Reif wants to add LoBro.

“I think getting in on [Northeast] Broadway now is a good time. There's a bunch of empty storefronts starting to get filled out and turned into a new wave of businesses,” says Reif of the changing dynamics of the street where she just opened up shop, alongside other hip brands like Hillary Horvath Flowers, St. Simon Coffee, and Nightbird Salon. “We’re trying to make Broadway happen. I’m calling it 'LoBro.'”

The new showroom, at 1825 NE Broadway—with a wall of south-facing windows, wooden beams, and a chic woven Phloem chair—features double racks full of Reif’s signature pieces. Sophisticated, modern silhouettes with an underlying theme of comfort, from a beautiful wide-leg tweed wrap pant to a raw silk denim jumpsuit that gets softer with each wear. “I mean, that's what I love,” she says. “Comfortable clothes, wide-leg pants, and flowy things.”

All her pieces are made onsite with a curtain separating the showroom from the workroom. Shoppers can pick from the size run of each item, but thanks to the flexibility of a small business, they can also request some customization for pieces. Want that organza blouse with a shorter sleeve? Reif can do it. Wish the Lazlo jumpsuit came in the fabric of the Leni pant? Not a problem.

While working face-to-face with clients is part of the joy of being a small maker, any of our independent designers will tell you that one of the hardest parts of doing business in Portland is our lack of infrastructure. Cities like Los Angeles and New York have textile markets and access to every fabric under the sun, but Portland designers have to go on long road trips to haul back cars stuffed of fabric, or pay the extra to have items shipped in. And with the United States now almost entirely lacking domestically made fabrics, the overseas items are a necessity and come with extra burdens. 

“One thing that's been a pinch this season is, you know, what fabrics I don't get from Japan, come from China, and now there’s the tariffs,” says Reif, explaining how President Trump’s trade war with China and tariffs on all imported goods affects her bottom line. “Nearly all my suppliers have raised all my costs, sometimes up to $2 more a yard. I get that he's trying to encourage people to take the US option, but there's no US option for fabrics now.”

That means Reif has to split the difference between raising prices and selling more to make ends meet. She hopes the local community keeps coming out for her as they have in the past. “I want people in Portland to buy my clothing because I live here, and I feel like people think of Portland style as a certain thing," she says. "But everybody who lives here has Portland style, you know?”

And she's doubling down on that whole LoBro thing: “Broadway is really easy for people to get to, and it's in between everything. It's a nice through-street.”

Filed under
Show Comments