Dogpatch has a long history as a textile center. Esprit – formerly Esprit des Corp – launched in the late-1970s, located its headquarters on the 900 block of Minnesota for the ensuing 30 years. The company pioneered a building approach that evolved into the dominate style in the neighborhood, consisting of luxury warehouse-converted structures that featured Douglas fir flooring, a collection of ornate Amish quilts on display, and a nature-adventure vibe.
Esprit attracted other fashion retailers to Dogpatch, its influence continuing to reverberate through a new wave of textile, shoe, and clothing companies who manufacture, headquarter, and have opened retail locations in the neighborhood.
Bryr Studios, which produces handmade clogs inspired by the West Coast lifestyle, has occupied a retail and manufacturing space in the American Industrial Center (AIC) since 2012. Isobel Schofield, Bryr’s founder, originally planned to launch a work studio but was encouraged by AIC’s owner, Greg Markoulis, to open a retail location as well. Markoulis’ family had operated a clog factory out of the structure during Esprit’s heyday.
The store largely closed after San Francisco’s pandemic-induced shelter-in-place order was imposed, offering customers access by appointment only. The brand grew so much over the past two years through social media and word of mouth that Isobel plans to reopen this fall in a larger retail and manufacturing space in AIC, at the corner of 22nd and Illinois streets
“Dogpatch and the 22nd street corridor, from Picinno to the end of Pier 70, is going to continue becoming more and more of a center for the City,” said Isobel. “We are excited to open our location on the bay side of the American Industrial Building as Pier 70 continues to develop and becomes an exciting place to be!”
Coyuchi moved their headquarters six years ago to a lofted office space near the Minnesota Street Project on 24th and Tennessee streets. The company makes organic bedding, towels, apparel, and home textiles. It chose Dogpatch so that it could have a single space for its corporate office, photo studio, and display floor.
Coyuchi mostly sells online, through wholesalers, retailers like Nordstrom and Anthropolgie, and at a retail location in Point Reyes. Company staff have mostly returned to the office after working remotely during the pandemic’s height.
Eileen Mockus, Coyuchi’s Chief Executive Officer, started her career at Patagonia and was familiar with Dogpatch from her time as a fabric buyer at Esprit. She moved the company’s offices to the community in 2016.
“At the time, Philz and Minnesota Street Project were just opening in the area and we felt the neighborhood would continue to be a great place for businesses and our office location,” she said. “This was all before all the activity that is going on today! It’s great to see what is happening today with more residential buildings, the Third Street corridor, and the arts and creative community continuing to grow.”
Short Story, a personal styling service for petite women, moved its headquarters and distribution center to Dogpatch during the pandemic. Located at Mariposa and Minnesota streets, the company occupies a multipurpose space for corporate offices and packaging personalized style boxes for monthly deliveries.
Isabella Sun, Short Story’s founder and CEO, started the company out of her apartment in 2019. Her business model was simple: she’d take on the burden of trying on loads of petite clothing from retailers, buy pieces that weren’t frumpy or aging, and sell to her petite friends.
“Petite clothing was invented for shorter women but quickly became the little old lady section,” she said. “It’s unacceptable for petite women to have to pick between the old lady or kid’s sections for their clothing.”
Short Story boxes include clothing from top brands and the company’s own lines, created and designed through customer feedback. Patrons start by taking Short Story’s Style Quiz. Then, the company’s experts curate boxes of fitting outfits. A few days later, a coral Short Story box is delivered with items to be tried on at home. Clients keep what they like, return what they don’t.
“We are excited to grow into our next phase in our space in Dogpatch,” said Isabella. “We needed more space for clothing packaging, photoshoots, and in the future want to open a popup shop in the front. With this space, we have room to support our current customers and continue to grow.”
With present supply chain and manufacturing challenges, locating close by customers may be a prudent strategy. The Esprit name lives on in Dogpatch with Esprit Park, and its legacy continues through the next generation of textile companies.