Designers to Watch: 2011 Edition

Two Seattle designers are reaching new heights in their careers with modern structural wear for wome
The design duo at work in their Capitol Hill studio

Jean Bhang-Glover (pictured above)
8telier

Say you knew her when: Seattle native Jean Bhang-Glover returns home to call the shots for a women’s wear line set to rival the design giants.

To call the designer an up-and-comer is a bit ironic, given her 15-year history of designing for major firms on the East Coast, where she racked up a client list that included Neiman Marcus, Saks and Brooks Brothers. But after returning home in 2008, Bhang-Glover went from employee to boss, taking the helm on soon-to-be three burgeoning fashion lines.

Along with husband and business partner Craig Glover, Bhang-Glover manages two menswear lifestyle brands, Applied Theory and AT Collins, but this month, Bhang-Glover returns to her forte with a new women’s wear line, 8telier. Full of classic and sophisticated work-wardrobe staples, the debut collection fittingly plays off the dichotomy of masculine and feminine with edgy and modern structural jackets ($98–$149) and fluid tops ($44–$89).

Artistic yet practical herself, Bhang-Glover’s designs maintain that same yin and yang: Although the line is flush with the lush, textural fabrics, French seaming and detailed stitching that satisfy a designing mind, price points for 8telier intentionally hover around $150.

“We want our pieces to be those special wardrobe staples women wear time and time again,” she explains. “But they also need to be affordable for real women.” Although the 8telier’s first go-round will only be available online (8telier.com), watch for it on racks at Nordstrom very soon.

Sarah Loertscher
Sarah Loertscher Designs

Say you knew her when: Our bet for the next ‘it’ gal in local jewelry, metalsmith Sarah Loertscher channels her craft to create modern, utilitarian statement jewelry.

Call Loertscher a “jeweler” and the soft-spoken redhead will flinch a little. That’s because the metalsmith (and printmaker) doesn’t view her industrial-edge earrings, rings and necklaces so much as baubles as scaled-down pieces of sculptural art. “I was never a jewelry wearer; I’m not flowery,” she explains. “But then I fell in love with metals and I just wanted to make something utilitarian, powerful and frankly, kind of kick-ass.”

Much of that power comes from Loertscher’s unique use of geometric shapes, such as hexagons and pyramids; her layered creations call to mind a spiraling double helix or the creation of a mad scientist. A metalsmithing instructor at Pratt Fine Arts, Loertscher adds her puzzle-like repetitive shapes to staid staples like brooches, solid silver cufflinks ($95–$155) and pins ($48).

The West Seattle–based artist has her hands on every piece, bending, soldering and scoring silver to create clean, minimalist lines and angles—some of her more complex designs encompass hundreds of scores. In the past year alone, her local accounts have tripled, and art galleries across the nation are taking note, inviting Loertscher to display her wearable art in Boston and San Francisco.

Her new fall collection includes demure yet striking folded steel dangle earrings, the result of folding an entire steel sheet at a perfect angle. Available locally at Click! Design That Fits (West Seattle), Fancy (Belltown) and Kobo (International District).

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