McMullen Celebrated 15 Years in Business by Bridging Fashion and Activism

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The days when runway shows were primarily staged for clients are—for the most part—long gone. But that community atmosphere was alive and well at McMullen’s runway show held last Thursday, commemorating 15 years in business. Sheri McMullen, the founder of the iconic Oakland boutique and all-around tastemaker, held the event to showcase looks from a new capsule collection, dubbed 15 for 15, which comprises looks made exclusively for the store by designers including Christopher John Rogers, Nomia, and Proenza Schouler. 

Held at the Ferry Building in San Francisco overlooking the bay, the show was filled with McMullen’s supporters—as well as those who she’s supported over the years. It was, naturally, a well-dressed crowd, with guests wearing zebra print boots, leopard suits, and graphic printed sets. Not all of the looks in the show were part of the 15 for 15 capsule, but each showcased McMullen’s joyful, experimental eye. 

Models in the anniversary runway show. 

Drew Altizer Photography

McMullen was an early supporter of many of the designers attending the show, including Rogers and Yara Flinn of Nomia. Rogers, who created two knit polo dresses with rainbow pleats and striped cuffs for the capsule, reflected on this afterwards. “Sherri was our first brick-and-mortar partner for our first season selling, and she’s always been such an ardent supporter of me and my business. She understands my point of view and how to articulate it to her clients,” he said. “I love that she has a consistent, strong point of view. And she’s a sweetheart.” 

Yara Flinn, Sherri McMullen, and Christopher John Rogers. 

Samantha Cooper

Sherri McMullen and Tamu McPherson. 

Samantha Cooper

There is a sense of community at McMullen that goes beyond a business relationship. Flinn, who made a brown trench coat for the capsule and whose sky blue slip dress was also modeled in the show, laughed while remembering that McMullen didn’t buy the first collection of hers that she saw—a decision Flinn respects. Over the ten years since, they’ve developed a close partnership and Flinn appreciates that McMullen remembers details from her past collection. “She has a photographic memory,” Flinn said. “She does the work of scouting and observing designers and she understands that it’s a long term partnership. As a designer it’s a really reaffirming thing to know that she’s watching and keeping track.”

The weekend of celebrations kicked off with a dinner catered by McMullen’s Michelin-starred neighbor Hi Felicia at the flagship in Oakland, California. The pink store is a decades-long dream for McMullen, and she’s still in awe of its realization. “I always thought, ‘I want to have a luxury store in Oakland,’” she said. “In 2018 I was able to make that happen. That was a moment for me when I really felt like, ‘We are doing something, we are moving in the right direction.’” 

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