A Designer Emerges, with MOORE
written by Courtney Tait | photography by Tim Sugden
As a young girl growing up in the woods of a tiny town in New Hampshire, fashion designer Andrea Moore used scraps of fabric she found around her house to sew dresses. “My mom recalls I made a dress out of a winter blanket,” she says. “I’ve been sewing my whole life — it was my pastime and something I’ve always really enjoyed doing.”
These days Moore can be found sewing at MOORE Custom Goods, the workspace and retail shop she opened two years ago at Lovejoy Street and NW 17th Avenue. MOORE, her street-style collection of wearable men’s and women’s pieces, has garnered high praise in Portland’s fashion community, earning her several notable awards, including: 1st Place in the 2016 Modified Style Portland Professional Collection Category, the title of Best Emerging Designer at the Portland Fashion & Style Awards, and winner of FasioNXT’s Emerging Designer Competition.
“The support I have received in Portland has totally helped me flourish and be able to do what I do every day,” says Moore. “It helps to be in a community where people are supportive of what you’re doing rather than seeing you as competition.”
Prior to moving to Portland in 2014, Moore lived and worked in Las Vegas, New York and L.A. She steadily created her own designs while gaining business experience as a retail manager for large brands — with the intention of eventually opening her shop. “Ever since I was a kid I wanted to have my own store and be able to sew out of the space,” she says. “I always knew that was my long term goal.”
As one of seven children (Moore has three sisters and three brothers, who she says are all creative in their own ways) and the daughter of a custom home builder and an artist, Moore says the emotional support of her family helped her in moving to new places and pursuing her goals. Her parents’ recurring advice to ‘Do what feels good’ resonated with her, she says, and has helped her stay true to her heart and trust her gut.
Moore’ designs are all vegan and created with fabrics sourced in Portland and other West Coast cities. Peruse her brick-and-mortar store or online shop and you’ll find a mix of easy-to-layer neutral pieces such as quilted jackets, t-shirts, boxy dresses, tank tops, and denim joggers. “I try to make things that people can wear every day,” she says. “I am almost completely textile driven. I want people to touch everything and think, ‘this feels good’. The feel is really important.”
In addition to designing pieces for her house brand, Moore does denim rebuilding for two different denim shops and creates custom clothing for a range of clients. She says she often works with people with unique body types who have a hard time finding clothing that fits them. For one client — a surgeon who wears t-shirts under his coat every day — she created 20 t-shirts tailored to his specific body type. For another client, who loves the way his Levis fit, she crafted pants with the same fit in another fabric.
The combination of word-of-mouth advertising and five-star Yelp reviews has helped Moore expand her custom clientele, and she hopes to move from her current 400-square-feet headquarters to a larger space. Her Emerging Designer award from FashioNXT included a cash prize, business classes, and a membership at Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, resources she plans to use for growing her business. Moore has one part-time employee and has started bringing in interns, sharing her knowledge and skills and giving them a platform. “I love to see talent and work with entrepreneurs,” she says.
One of Moore’s dreams for the future is to have a production facility in Portland, helping designers coming out of school get jobs and internships. “Something a lot of designers struggle with is making everything themselves,” she says. “I would like to be able to support the design community with production.”
For now, Moore is working on creating balance, which she says has been the biggest challenge of owning a business. “Starting your own business and just going 100% of the time, it can be hard to be as productive and efficient as you want and set boundaries,” she says. “It’s about finding the balance of breathing and living and working.”
While Moores hadn’t spent much time in Portland before moving to the city to be with her now husband, it has become her favorite place she has lived. She says the amount of support in the community surprised her, with other designers coordinating events and reaching out to her. “It’s so nice when people are seeking out other creative people,” she says. “So much sharing happens here.”