Oakland boutique McMullen celebrates 15 years, launches program for emerging fashion designers

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Sunday, December 4, 2022
Oakland boutique launches fashion program for emerging designers
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Oakland boutique McMullen is launching a new incubator program to bring more jobs and opportunities in fashion to Oakland.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- When you step inside McMullen, you are immediately overwhelmed by couture. It's a stunning experience. The luxury boutique, that's celebrating it's 15th birthday, sits on Broadway in Uptown Oakland. It's the brainchild of Sherri McMullen.

"What I love about the style in Oakland is that everyone has their own personal style," Sherri said. "They're not necessarily looking for the big labels or anything like that. It's really about mixing independent designers with their own."

Sherri has been called, "A champion of young fashion talent" and even a "Tastemaker," by Vogue. But before receiving national recognition, she was a buyer for Neiman Marcus.

"When I started 15 years ago, I knew that I wanted to create a space for those younger designers," Sherri continued. "I just thought, 'I know there are more designers out there. I know that there are more designers out there that look like me, but how do we find them?'"

Sherri definitely has it figured out now. She travels to places like Copenhagen, New York, Paris, and Lagos. She even finds local designers from Oakland and San Francisco.

During the NBA finals, Sherri styled Steph Curry in clothing by Black designers. One of the looks included a jacket by Ade Dehye, an Oakland-based brand.

One of Sherri's most notable discoveries is designer Christopher John Rogers. They met during fashion week in 2019.

"It was the one collection that really stood out in my mind and I kept going back to that thinking, 'We're going to make this work.'"

The two did more than just "make it work."

Christopher John Rogers went on to dress Vice President Kamala Harris for her inauguration and design Sarah Jessica Parker's 2022 Met Gala look.

Rogers also created exclusive pieces for McMullen. The brightly colored dresses floated down the runway at McMullen's 15th anniversary show.

"If you truly believe in what your vision is and you believe that you're going to make a difference, keep going," Sherri said.

Those words are her advice to everyone, including herself. Anyone can look around Uptown Oakland and clearly see that some businesses don't make it. But, despite hardships like the pandemic or the sharp rise of the multibillion dollar fast fashion industry, McMullen is thriving.

"We don't believe in fast fashion," Sherri went on. "We definitely believe in timeless pieces. We talk about wearing your clothes over and over and over only buying what you love."

Inside McMullen, the walls are covered with photos of the women in Sherri's family. She describes them as mentors that inspired her life. McMullen is rooted in the idea of lifting up others, so Sherri is taking that mission a few miles down the road to McMullen's distribution center in West Oakland.

Her goal is to bring more jobs to an under-represented area and host emerging brands for McMullen's new incubator program. In the program, designers will get hands-on experience and mentorship from Sherri and her team.

"It has not been easy along the way, but I stayed true to what I was doing and I always believed in it."

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