Portland is a funny place. The whole time I was there, I couldn't stop thinking, "It's everything they said it would be and more!" It's a hipster mecca with lots of trees, an episode of Portlandia without the irony.
One thing I did not expect to find in Portland were really good stores, though in hindsight that seems silly. Because of course this town would have everything, from well curated boutiques stocked with Suno and APC to sweet little naturopath apothecaries. Though this list is by no means exhaustive, it is indeed meant to honor the handful of stores I literally could not stop thinking about once I returned to NYC.
When I stumbled into Backtalk's new location just around the corner from the Ace Hotel, I audibly gasped. From the arched pink racks packed with clothing by local designers to the bleached wood tables displaying delicate jewelry and colorful ceramics, the airy shop is a little slice of paradise. I bought a white denim poncho with oversized pompoms running down the sides (made by the in-house designer who sits at a sewing machine in the back) and wore it with my favorite Rachel Comey jean shorts all summer. If I could have, I would have bought at least 15 more things. The owner, Katie Freedle, is a total babe and a designer in her own right — look for her jewelry line, Rill Rill, scattered amongst the other cool pieces in her shop.
Francis May may not be PDX's prettiest store and that's just fine — the stuff that fills its racks more than makes up for the shop's lack of interior sleekness. The thoughtful and experimental mix reads like a who's who of cool-kid brands: Dusen Dusen, Suno, Rachel Comey, Carven, Ryan Roche, Creatures of Comfort, Acne... and pretty much any other label you wish you could buy more of and wear all the time. The staff is some of the most welcoming in town.
You can't go to Portland without stopping by Canoe. You just can't. But don't get all sassy because it doesn't live up to the hype — this place opened 10 years ago before there was a highly-curated design-object store on every block in every city everywhere. And anyway, this place is really pretty. So just go. Browse the Commes des Garcons wallets, flip through the gorgeous photo books, and ogle the vintage boat paddles that decorate the slate-colored walls. Then go around the corner and grab a coffee at Stumptown.
Tucked in the back corner of the food truck pod on Division, this sweet little shop sells small-batch, artisan-made natural beauty products out of a refurbished 1979 Airstream trailer. While the cute assortment of potted mini succulents, handmade jewelry, essential oil facial mists, and mystical candles will lure you in, it's the good vibes that will make you linger.
The spirit of the Pacific Northwest's great outdoors, encapsulated in one cozy little store. Aside from the retailer's wide assortment of rugged leather goods and canvas bags, the shop also stocks the brand's collaborations with simpatico labels like Pendleton, Danner Boots, and Battenwear, plus buffalo plaid shirts and nubby wool socks from its Woodsland line. In short, they've got everything the modern lumberjack needs.
It's impossible not to lured into this airy Division Street shop. First of all, there are a ton of patterned pillows strewn around on the floor under a crocheted hammock, just begging you to curl up for a nap. Second, there's a neon pink sign that says "Yo!" in the window. The tightly-curated selection of vintage pieces is pretty great too: polka dot rompers, silk kimonos, flared denim jumpsuits, and fuzzy knitted cocoon coats.