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Asphalt Designs
Concrete Jungle: Asphalt Designs caters to urban tastes.

Teamwork produces creative results at Asphalt Designs and Grand Boutique

By Fern Mitchell

Celebrating three years in business at Asphalt Designs are David Dawson and Shelly Gottschamer, whose longtime friendship and collaboration dates back to the '70s, when the pair met in Boulder, Colo.

Gottschamer, a longtime seamstress and designer, has passionately pursued fashion for many years, while David on the other hand is primarily an artist, whose works has been exhibited at local galleries. But since their move to San Francisco seven years ago, they've somehow found themselves focusing on the same interests.

In 1992, they both worked on developing some costumes for a dance troupe, an experience which inspired them to pursue a business in the rag trade.

Asphalt Designs essentially caters to "post-modern, post-punk adults," of which San Francisco has no shortage, according to Dawson. David believes "style is one of the primary, daily, creative opportunities people have," a statement born out in the clothing he helps design.

The clothes at Asphalt Designs are all easy to wear, stylistically expressive, well-made and affordably priced. One of the things you will encounter at Asphalt Designs is the feeling of nature, a feeling augmented by the natural fibers used to construct the many garments.

And the Asphalt aesthetic seems to strike a chord far beyond the confines of the Bay Area. Aside from San Francisco, Asphalt's wholesale line is sold and distributed throughout Japan, and domestically in California, New York, Florida and several other states.

Reflecting Gottschamer and Dawson's strong interest in the Bay Area's fashion industry, the two have managed to help put together a trade organization known as the Independent Style Merchants of San Francisco. Using this nonprofit group, David and Shelly are able to help promote some of San Francisco's budding and talented designers, and they also stage numerous benefits and fashion shows to raise money for those in need.

The Asphalt owners also support local designers in how they stock their retail boutique. Besides their own in-house line, Asphalt also carries clothing by the likes of Alatalo, Labyrinth, Lily Millinery, Olga Joan, Paul Gallo, Sui Generis, Penelope Starr and Nickel Press. These are mostly small and independent companies, working and producing their products here in the Bay Area, and all motivated by an interest in creative design and pushing the envelope of style, as opposed to simply bowing and scraping before the whims of a mass audience.

Prices at Asphalt Designs for pants average about $70, dresses $50 to $200, T-shirts $15 to $38, shirts and blouses $50 to $200, and jackets $60 to $200. The collection on display includes men's and women's clothing, small furnishings, jewelry and other accessories.

Asphalt Designs is located in the heart of Hayes Valley at 551 Hayes St, 626-5196.

For nearly six years KPP Productions, the wholesale division of Grand Boutique, has been a part of the fashion industry here in San Francisco. And for a little over a year, the company has been selling its wares to retail shoppers in an atmospheric North Beach location. Colorful and interesting, the store is the brainchild of partners Michael Brown, Keri White and Pedro Olmo. White and Olmo, a married couple, hail from England and Puerto Rico, respectively, and their exotic blend of influences accounts for the diverse array of ideas featured at Grand.

This holiday season, the folks at Grand will celebrate in their usual manner by hosting a get-together and fashion show at their favorite local hangout, The Highball Lounge. And to get customers feeling equally full of holiday cheer, the store will feature some new, exciting and affordable outfits in an environment that allows the customer to shop with ease and comfort.

Prices range from $25 to $110 for items that include blouses, trousers, skirts, dresses, hats and scarves, all displayed in a funky little store with lots of North Beach ambiance seeping in from the street outside.

Among the lines of clothing on display are KPP Productions (Grand's exclusive line), along with items from such Bay Area designers as Sui Generis, Penelope Starr, Junkie's, Maslyah Nausbaum, Kingsize, Sunshee Moon, Rocket Tease, Nickel Press, Paul Gallo and Lame, Winx and Lisa Violetta. Leave it to Grand to have the business savvy in promoting some of the region's hottest new talents.

Join the staff and friends of Grand at the Highball Lounge on Dec 4 at 473 Broadway, where you'll get a chance to meet the owners and staff while viewing some of Grand's newest items.

The Grand retail store is located at 1435 Grant St, 951-0131.

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From the November 1996 issue of SF Live

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