Category Archives: Fashion

Double the Work

TopShelf Boutique, owned by Christina Ruiz and originally a traveling fashion truck, currently occupies space in the Storenvy Pop-Up Shop that is shared with other vendors. Ruiz will be relocating to her own spot on the floor above the pop-up in the Crocker Galleria and will be having a grand opening on May 9. TopShelf Boutique features vintage handpicked women's clothes, accessories by local designers, and upcycled items. Photo by Virginia Tieman
TopShelf Boutique, owned by Christina Ruiz and originally a traveling fashion truck, currently occupies space in the Storenvy Pop-Up Shop that is shared with other vendors. Ruiz will be relocating to her own spot on the floor above the pop-up in the Crocker Galleria and will be having a grand opening on May 9. TopShelf Boutique features vintage handpicked women’s clothes, accessories by local designers, and upcycled items. Photo by Virginia Tieman

By Melissa Landeros
Photos Virginia Tieman

What started, as chasing a store on wheels all around San Francisco has now become a simple muni ride downtown to The Crocker Galleria, which is the permanent home for Christina Ruiz’s mobile boutique.

The TopShelf Style boutique’s pop-up shop opened in February because at the time Ruiz, said there were not a lot of “fashion truck friendly events.” It was a slow season for the truck so she figured she had nothing to lose.

The pop-up which was only supposed to be open for a month turned into 2 and a half months. Meanwhile Ruiz was approached with the opportunity of owning her store which is now located on the second floor of The Crocker Galleria. Now just about a year after starting the fashion truck Ruiz’s dream of finally owning both a “brick and mortar” shop has become a reality.

Ruiz and her team had been working day in and day out to prepare for the launching of the store. She had gone on numerous buying trips for merchandise, furniture, and even purchasing small detailed items like doorknobs. Ruiz said, “Getting the store ready had been a collaborative process and a true labor of love.”

Ruiz remained located in the pop-up shop up until the official opening of her boutique which was May 6th. She said having been in the pop-up up until the opening of her store helped a lot, because she was able to talk to frequent customers about the launch.
The May 9th launch party for TopShelf Boutique was an utter success. Ruiz said, “I was overwhelmed by the amount of love.” There was a lot of support for TopShelf Boutique from frequent shoppers to Ruiz team which also included her brother David Ruiz, who mixed free drinks for guest the night of.

Ruiz said, “I want the TopShelf brand to turn into more than just a local business.” She hopes to expand in years to come and she is motivated to grow her online business. Ruiz wants her presence to be known in a wider range.

While her fashion truck will still be in motion around SF, shoppers now have easier access when shopping for the one of kind affordable merchandise TopShelf Boutique offers in store. Ruiz said, “We will have more space to carry a wider variety, some limited at first, more well known brand names, and eventually some shoes!”

Ruiz will continue to hit the streets of San Francisco in her truck but primarily on weekends and the TopShelf Boutique will be open Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm.

How to Spring Forward in Style



By Melissa Landeros
Photos by Erica Marquez

Embellishments, patterns, colors, collars, and cutouts so many trends, so little time in between the next wave of trends. So before spring is over lets indulge in what is current now.

Just about every article of clothing this season has an added piece of hardware in the form of spikes, studs, sequins and or beading. Spikes and studs and edge to an outfit while sequins and beading take an outfit from drab to fab.



Another huge trend this spring are collars. Take note regular Polo shirts are not making the cut. Some blouses come with collars that have lots of detail, while others are minimal and still chic. There are also collars sold separately, serving as necklaces but managing to look like they are part of a shirt. Store’s like H&M, Forever 21, and Anthropologie sell great collar necklaces that really make an outfit make pop.

Patterns are also a key trend popping up on just about everything from shirts, jackets, and dresses, to pants. Floral print, chevron print and stripes are just a few patterns that work for guys and girls. While camouflage print is a bold trend for guys this season.

Keep in mind mixing patterns is a do any season, but to make it work both patterns need to be within the same color palette. Katie Koho another SFSU student says, “I love floral jumpers they are fun, practical, and comfortable.”


Lace is another huge trend appearing. It is very delicate and offers a hint of sweetness to one’s outfit. However, be advised that too much lace can look bridal, so keep it minimal.

Macy Williams modeling "pop of color".
Macy Williams modeling “pop of color”

Color blocking is still a do; it has been spilling over from season to season. Clothing can be bought that is already color blocked or one can create the illusion of color blocking. Stick to 2 or 3 complementary colors, include a neutral, and use separates.

This spring it is all about color. Although black and white are classic, there are numerous colors to try. One should incorporate the color emerald with either accessories or key pieces like a blazer or blouse. Emerald is the color of the year, trending alongside it is dusk blue, lemon zest, poppy red, and nectarine. These colors work for both guys and girls.

This season cutouts are also trending, and one can easily add cut outs to almost any garment or buy garments with cutouts. Wardrobe pieces that work best for cutout work are plain shirts and dresses. If wanting to add cutouts take a marker and draw the shape onto the garment, preferably use fabric scissors which can be bought at Joann’s fabric and craft store, to continue the process.

Bryan Vo
Bryan Vo

Blazers and jackets are always stylish and trending. One just needs to know how to wear it and combine it with other pieces. By adding a sleek fitted blazer it can take an outfit from daywear to night wear. Either pair the blazer with clean buttoned down shirt to add sophistication or a plain colored t-shirt to keep the outfit casual. As for a jacket it can add edge to an outfit whether it be for a guy or girl.

SFSU student Christ Vito says, “I like to stick to long sleeve collared shirts and a light-weight coat or blazer.”

Jessica Cisneros, modeling elbow patches.
Jessica Cisneros, modeling elbow patches.

Sweaters and cardigans with elbow patches are also a do this spring. The simple detail really livens up either of the two. A number of clothing stores sell these type of cardigans/sweaters, and anyone can pull it off. Or consider adding elbow patches to an old sweater or cardigan to create a new piece that is worthy of wearing again.

Katie Koho, modeling print.
Katie Koho, modeling print.

One of the perks about it being spring is that it is warmer outside, which means dresses and skirts are fair game. The skirts and dresses that are trending are not ordinary garments. The trend features high-low dresses and skirts that are short in the front and long in the back. Even though it is spring that does not mean to disregard using scarves. Lightweight, colorful, and printed scarves are still acceptable for this season.

It is also the time to put away the boots and bring out the wedges, sandals, and slippers better known as smoking slippers. While each style works for guys and girls, it would be best to leave the wedges for just the girls. One of the best places to shop for this type of footwear is Aldo shoes.

Chris Vito

That concludes this year’s spring trends. Always keep in mind that a stylish outfit takes a few key pieces and time to put together. Guys remember keep everything simple and stick to one bold item, and girls have fun with your outfits.

Fashion Deals On Wheels

Christina Ruiz owner of TopShelf Boutique, a traveling fashion truck, had her truck up and running in May of 2012 and was the first fashion truck to hit the city streets. Photo by Virginia Tieman
Christina Ruiz owner of TopShelf Boutique, a traveling fashion truck, had her truck up and running in May of 2012 and was the first fashion truck to hit the city streets. Photo by Virginia Tieman

By Melissa Landeros
Photos by Virginia Tieman

A vintage inspired white ceiling, a hot pink fitting room, clothing racks on two sides, and a driver/passenger seat up front. Now in most boutiques if not all there would never be a driver or passenger seat, but this is not your ordinary boutique. This boutique is a large four wheel, metal gray truck detailed with a woman’s silhouette on the outside known as a fashion truck, more specifically as TopShelf Boutique.

Fashion trucks have been trending for the past couple of years. Some of the most recognized fashion trucks are in California. Fashion trucks offer unique, hand picked items, at different price ranges, and bring a whole new meaning to shopping on the go.

For those who did not know San Francisco has its very own fashion truck. In May of 2012 Christina Ruiz launched TopShelf Boutique, making it the first fashion truck to hit the streets of the city. Her boutique features vintage handpicked women’s clothing, and accessories by local designers, and upcycled items. Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

SF State student Lisa Khiev says, “I think the idea of a fashion trucks is smart, I’ve heard so many people talk about initiating that idea but TopShelf is legit.” Lisa believes that the idea in itself is different, which “makes it unique.”

Christina Ruiz, owner of a traveling fashion truck called TopShelf Boutique, places merchandise outside at the West End Alameda Flea Market on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. Photo by Virginia Tieman
Christina Ruiz, owner of a traveling fashion truck called TopShelf Boutique, places merchandise outside at the West End Alameda Flea Market on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. Photo by Virginia Tieman

Ruiz, an FIDM graduate always wanted to start a “brick and mortar” boutique, and when approached about starting a fashion truck she says, “I thought it was a crazy idea.” After a good amount of research and mentoring with current fashion truck owners Ruiz was ready to get to business.

Kayla Odwald another SF State student, says “the TopShelf fashion truck offers fashion forward women a new and exciting way to shop in SF.” She thinks it is a great alternative to shopping. Odwald also explains how the concept of fashion being everywhere is just what TopShelf Boutique embodies.

For those who are fans of Stolen Sunday, Sea Pony Couture, Elisa Gonsalves, and or Adina Mills, TopShelf Boutique is the place to shop. This fashion truck also features pieces from the fashion district in downtown Los Angeles.

When it comes to keeping up with trends, Ruiz says, “it’s an everyday process.” In order to keep up and stay on track Ruiz explains how, she reads fashion blogs, follows pins, and looks at what similar styles of businesses are doing. When going on buying trips to tradeshows, she gets to see samples of what is to come the following seasons.

San Francisco fashioinistas can find TopShelf Boutique in numerous places from the Treasure Island Flea, Mint Plaza, and Fort Mason. The fashion truck locations are sometimes limited because, “licensing for mobile retail is still a very grey area,” Ruiz says. Fashion trucks have to find open areas around the city to park and sell their items, while hoping no one tells them to move. Currently TopShelf is actively working with city hall to determine a fair permitting process to include mobile retail in its legislation. As for those who are Southern California natives, Le Fashion Truck was the first boutique on wheels based in Los Angeles. The pink fashion truck was inspired by the gourmet food trucks, and was established September of 2010 by Stacey Steffe and Jeanine Romo.

Before the debut of Le Fashion Truck, Steffe and Romo had their own businesses of selling handmade and vintage wares. The duo sold their items in local boutiques, festivals, and events while always having the desire to open their own retail stores. When Steffe approached Romo with the idea of starting their very own store on wheels, she was thrilled, Stacey says.

Le Fashion Truck features an array of merchandise from up and coming designers all over the country. The pink truck even has a hint of San Francisco to it, as it features the jewelry designer MishMash. Dresses by Jenny Carle, graphic tees by L.A. designer Spectre, and designs by an Australian brand called Ladakh are other featured pieces in the fashion truck.

Another unique thing about Le Fashion truck aside from the fact that it is a boutique on wheels, is that it features vegan leather handbags. The leather handbags are from PETA the certified company Urban Expressions.

The numerous pieces found in Le Fashion Truck stay on trend because Steffe and Romo are active in the fashion world. They go to trade shows, visit L.A. showrooms at least 2-3 times a month, and attend fashion week events.

Steffe and Romo even started a national association for mobile retail truck owners called the “West Coast Mobile Retail Association,” which Steffe is the president.

Continuing with the trend is J.D. Luxe another featured mobile boutique in Los Angeles. Jordana Fortaleza and Tyler Kenney came together to produce their own fashion line. Fortaleza explained how they wanted a “fun-innovative way to launch their line! Just like Steffe and Romo, J.D. Luxe was inspired by the mobile food trucks around L.A. that led to the making of their fashion truck. Having a mobile boutique, Fortaleza and Kenney can travel from place to place to different demographics to showcase their line. They also collaborate with their FIDM colleagues to showcase their designs, and work with local L.A. designers.

Owner Fortaleza says, “What you get from J.D. Luxe is a taste of Tyler and my fashion style! I love comfort, sexy, and class and Tyler is very fashion forward and edgy!” For those that styles consist of boho chic or edgy J.D. Luxe is the boutique to go to. For bay area natives who cannot make it to Fortaleza’s and Kenny’s fashion truck their website is the best alternative for shopping.

Just like most businesses the fashion trucks have had “hiccups” when first starting out and have gradually succeeded with their endeavors.

TopShelf Boutique, Le Fashion Truck, and J.D. Luxe are apart of the West Coast Mobile Retail Association, and know each other very well. While all the owners are in the same business they agree that they each offer unique styles and items for their shoppers.


Thriftlation: Trash or Treasure?


Written by Haley Brucato
Photos by Juliana Severe

The familiar smell of musty furniture wafts through aisles of old books, dusty knick knacks, and faded jeans. Although these items are one person’s trash, they will soon become another’s treasure. The thrill of hunting for vintage items buried in the back of Grandma’s closet for all those years bring shoppers to thrift stores day after day, and keeps businesses thriving and growing all over San Francisco.

Whether it be a fashionista innovator on the hunt for some inspiration, or a single mom as she searches for affordable clothing for her growing child, used goods stores offer something for everyone. The unexpected surprises that await can allow many customers to truly define their personal style choices with articles from all decades, which fuel the power of recycling and repurposing.

With the quirky and eccentric street style that is associated with modern and chic young adults, thrift stores are experiencing a recent spike in popularity and price inflation. Because of this, people truly in need who can’t afford new clothes, have to compete with bargain hunters and antique dealers who don’t mind paying the higher prices. Used sweaters that were previously marked at $3 can now be found for as much as $10, almost reaching the same price as new items from popular clothing stores like Forever 21.
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When Fashion and Art Collide

Written and photographed by Julio Cortez

A model creeps onto a white strip of runway in wedged ankle boots — everything but her arms and head bare as eyes in the front row shift up and away from their smartphones. A long trail of black hair drapes down at her sides, her arms spread apart and palms face up, channeling a divine creature that may have found its way out of a clogged drain. Her face is covered but her body is open and naked for the most scrutinizing eyes to see. She dons a furry medieval hood that funnels out toward the audience and her draping hair covers her shoulders and trails down between her breasts.

A month after the show, Bayview designer Ilanio Reuben is sitting on a wooden stool inside El Toro Taqueria on Valencia and 17th Street in San Francisco. This is the Bayview designer’s first time coming to taco happy hour, so he goes for the miniature stacked tortillas, drizzled in grilled carne asada and pico de gallo.

“In the fashion world, you make money by selling product,” he says, his black goatee curling down in strands of black and bleach peeking from under his ribbed beanie. “I came out of the retail world myself and I don’t really want anything to do with that.”

The independence, materials, and performances that set the foundation for Reuben’s Ilanio collection make him more of a designer/art dealer than a brand name business. If and how something can be worn is only the beginning of a conceptual design. He prefers to disregard functionality, marketability and practicality when it comes to design. This includes the use of materials you won’t find at The Gap, like aluminum wiring, polyurethane, surgical tubing, wigs and even those hippity-hop balls kids like to bounce around on at Toys ‘R Us.
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Steampunk: Mixing Fantasy and Fashion

Steampunk Fashion: Emily Marshall from Xpress Magazine on Vimeo.

By Lina Abascal


Nestled in the industrial warehouses of the South of Market, is a subculture that combines elements of the past with pieces from a fantasy of the future. A regular meeting place for participants of the Steampunk scene is the dance class and party, Alt.Dance, at DanzHaus dance studio. The weekly lesson starts with a beginners dance lesson that combines classic swing with futuristic goth and electronic music – a perfect fusion of past and present genres cohesive with Steampunk style.

Unlike other self-hating subcultures, many people are quick to identify as a Steampunk. Their unique style mixes items from the past such as monocles, top hats, corsets, and pocket watches with futuristic and Burning Man inspired fantasy items such as armor, goggles, and clockwork and gears. Many of the attendees of Alt.Dance claim to have handmade their clothes or gone to great lengths to find their perfect Steampunk pieces.

Steampunk is more than a style of dress. It reaches out to live action role playing, literature, and even music. Large DIY object fairs, conventions, and LARPing events are held nationwide for Steampunks, including Bay Area favorite, Clockwork Alchemy, which happens over Memorial Day weekend.

A few attendees of Alt.Dance and Bay Area Steampunks weigh in on their lifestyle and fashion.