Gets Real: Fashion designers setting up shop in Tacoma

TACOMA, Wash. — If you’ve never thought of Tacoma as a fashion town, you might need to think again. Some local designers are working to put the City of Destiny on the fashion map.

It is likely no stretch to say that Tacoma is not known as a fashion capital.

But some business owners are making their mark in the fashion world by staying close to home.

In the heart of downtown Tacoma, inside an unassuming storefront, the blue-collar city is being sewn into the fabric of the fashion world.

DazJon ‘Daz’ Johnson, to those who know him, is the face of a team of six men, half of them designers, all of them Black. All but one are Tacoma natives, too. Their 9-year-old company is Etcetera, or ETC.

“So ETC Tacoma is a men’s boutique store; it is a lifestyle brand,” said Johnson. “We have different pieces from T-shirts, pullovers, sweats, jackets, hats, accessories and fun stuff like that.”

“So, this is our Anorak jacket,” Johnson said, pulling it off the rack. “This is one of our stable pieces. The majority of our stuff is produced locally. So, we do a lot of screen printing and our DTG, things of that nature done locally through local print shops.”

All of it in a city not accustomed to making a fashion statement.

“We had the pleasure of kind of all just being into fashion growing up,” said Johnson. “There’s about five or six of us. So, we all have our inspirations that we grew up with in fashion. And we wanted to figure out how to bring that to our own backyard.”

And if a little more upscale is more your style, you can find that here in the City of Destiny, too.

“So, my sister has a house line that she makes here in Tacoma,” said Sarah Alisdairi.

She and her designer sister, Lana, own Cocobolo, a women’s clothing boutique, that’s a six-minute walk from ETC in downtown Tacoma.

“They’re all made to order,” said Sarah. “Some of them are in store, small batch.”

The sisters grew up in Saudi Arabia. But they spent every summer in their mother’s hometown — you guessed it, Tacoma. So, when it came time to open Cocobolo, they chose the one American city they have grown to love.

“Tacoma - fashion, those things don’t go together usually,” conceded Sarah.

But they do, for these two.

“We’ve sold vintage for a long time,” she said. “And we love clothes and fashion. And we express ourselves in how we dress. And we live here. So, bringing clothing to Tacoma and clothing production was important to us. It’s where we’re from. It’s our community. And we wanted to show our creativity and our art to our community.”

That creativity is slowly making a name for itself in the business of fashion, one locally-designed piece at a time.

Both ETC and Cocobolo have a big presence online.

That’s how a lot of customers around the country found them during the pandemic.

Here are links to their websites: