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[whitespace] Sew What?

The little-known A Motion Studio creates one-of-a-kind pieces for designer clients

By Cassi Feldman

It's a wonder that anyone bothers to advertise anymore, when underground businesses are starting to outnumber their corporate competitors and word-of-mouth gossip equals instant cachet. So I was understandably skeptical when I heard about A Motion Studio, a little-known clothing store on Brannan marked only by an orange jacket flapping outside. For one thing, the name sounds like a pun on "emotion" and that's a problem right there. For another, I'd already developed a healthy disdain for all those obnoxiously spare, one-rack boutiques that showcase sweatshirts like fine art.

So it was a welcome relief to walk into the studio, a converted warehouse with a giant eucalyptus tree, exposed wooden beams, messy work tables and blaring Björk. Roger Alan started it eight years ago as a one-stop shop for budding designers like himself to take their sketches (or even just ideas) and have them made real. Once that first perfect garment exists, it can be shopped around at trade shows and eventually brought to a factory as a prototype.

"We're providing a huge service," explains Alan, an ageless god with a long blond ponytail. "If I had found something like this when I first started my line, it would have been a whole different life course." Meanwhile, this life course seems to have worked out pretty well: Alan's initial concept has grown into a team of 20 who collectively design, make patterns, source fabric and sew samples for more than 30 clients.

Aside from the clients' clothing, they also produce three in-house lines with new pieces introduced at monthly parties held in the store. Hieros, which comes from the Greek word for sacred, is a futuristic take on men's work clothes with standouts like herringbone jeans and shiny quilted jackets. Fire, the women's line, includes a collarless suit that zippers from the top and bottom, an iridescent seersucker house dress, and exposed-seam tank tops in hot pink and lemon yellow. Stockton Avenue consists of standard color-block surfing gear with just a trace of style.

Each piece is an original, hand-sewn in the back, but still priced within the reach of your basic urban temp ($50 for pants, $30 for a simple top). Yugala, one of the designers, claims that affordability is part of their goal, but I suspect it's just all that money they save on advertising .

A Motion Studio is at 440 Brannan. Open daily from 11am to 6pm. 415.957.1411, www.amotionstudio.com. Parties are held on the third Friday of every month 5--11pm and feature live DJs, performance art and refreshments.

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From the September 27, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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