A Local Feature -- A Launch Pad for Fashion

Three locals make a mark on the fashion world

BY KATE HULL

Full article on sunvalleymag.com

Blame it on the fresh mountain air—how could it not spark creativity?—or maybe even the mountain town pace, but whatever the root, Sun Valley is brimming with talented entrepreneurs carving a niche and turning heads in the fashion industry. From luxurious couture scarves or hand-dyed Balinese shirts, to fine hand-stitched leather purses, these one-of-a-kind creations have two things in common: roots in the Wood River Valley and a wide reach.

“Living and having my Atelier (condominium) in Ketchum has given me limitless freedom to be creative and independent,” says Nina Fox, the artist and designer behind Haute Wrap’s photographic Italian-made scarves. “There is a feeling you are somewhere very special.”

Sun Valley is peppered with entrepreneurs, but those with an eye for apparel and good design are turning their concepts into a full-fledged fashion powerhouse. Some, like Fox, have stayed in the Idaho mountain town to pursue their craft, while sharing their craft across the globe. Others, like Philip Barney, the co-founder of Three Islands Lifestyle, found a calling and headed to the source—now, a coastal vacation isn’t complete without his vibrant designs. Sun Valley Magazine uncovered just the tip of this creative iceberg and caught up with three notable creators for a look at what made it work, what’s next, and why following your gut is always in style.
. . . . . .

Cindy Kirk Designs

A seamstress by trade, Cindy Kirk was on a journey to find the perfect handbag—one that was functional, timeless, and durable. “The purses I came across always had too many flashy things or the shape was all wrong,” she says. “Sometimes I swear they were designed by men who don’t carry them! One day, I thought, ‘You know, I can do this.’”

And so she did.

After she created a bag for herself, a friend insisted she make her one. Kirk dove in.

“Whenever you have a product and put yourself out there, it is scary. That was the biggest thing—my fear of failure,” Kirk says. But she overcame the mental gymnastics and gave herself the opportunity to pursue her goals.

From her home studio in Ketchum, Kirk and her two seamstresses create well-crafted designs inspired by her mountain surrounding and her upbringing on a rural Southern California ranch. Describing her bags as elegant and classic, Kirk’s purses are unlined and simple, with distinctive stitching and soft cow leather in rich neutral hues, deep reds, purples, and more. Giving them an extra personal touch, each style is named for a girlfriend, daughter, or family member.

The handbags can be found at eight boutiques across the country, from Atlanta to Napa, including a strong Sun Valley presence at boutiques like Panache and Sisters. To Kirk, the Sun Valley market allows her to reach a cross-section of the country, with tourists coming from all over. “We get people from all over the world shopping. I now have a few store accounts just by customers carrying a bag in their hometown.”

Looking ahead, Kirk hopes to acquire more stores to carry her bags and increase her online presence, but she also hopes to one day have a Sun Valley showroom.