For those of you unfamiliar, Blake is THE denim boutique – if not for the entire Pacific Northwest, then at least for all of Portland – and absolutely did not disappoint. But what make Blake so fantastic? Well, that’d be Blake himself: Blake Nieman-Davis, the owner and true blue (no pun intended) denim expert.
Beyond being the namesake for the store (which he says that now, in retrospect, he might reconsider), Blake is a genuine denim aficionado. He collects rare pairs of jeans, works overtime to get brands he believes in into the store (and has some great stories about those experiences… if you get the chance, ask him about how he got Cheap Monday) and is so passionate that it’s infectious.
One of the things I love to do is head into a denim boutique and pretend I’m just plain clueless about jeans. And while that’s harder to do when you’re walking in with a denim designer, it’s still important for me to go through the motions. So I did, and I even learned a few new things in the process – something that has not happened to me in quite some time.
So, from my Blake experience, here are some great tips you should keep in mind every time you shop for denim:
- Fit for your waist. You’ll find that over time, jeans tend to loosen up and stretch out – especially around the legs and butt. Most of the time, if it fits perfectly in the store, you might want to size down to make sure it fits like it should all the time. Blake is a huge proponent of this sizing idea, and he has thousands of satisfied customers who will back him up.
- Know what you’re looking for – but be flexible. I walked in and told Blake what “my” personal issues were with jeans (which were issues, but not particularly mine) and he selected a couple of pairs that looked great on me. But the first pair – Paige Laurel Canyons in a 25 – felt too low. They might have looked awesome on me, but I didn’t feel awesome. So Blake conceded and got a pair of jeans with a higher rise that still fit right AND felt great.
- Find a boutique/salesperson who’s honest. Blake told me stories about how he has customers come in with jeans that they may have bought somewhere else and ask him how they look – and he’s honest, without being concerned about making a sale. Because a good salesperson knows that if they can give you a good experience and educate you, you’ll be more willing to come back and shop there… instead of store that gave you a pair of jeans that don’t work.
I will say this: Blake is not the place to go if you aren’t willing to spend some money on denim – not because you’ll be forced to, but because you won’t be able to leave without something. They do have affordable options that are under $100, but when you walk in and find that perfect pair, you’ll want to walk out with them no matter what the price… heck, I almost walked out with a pair I already own, but in a different size (because Blake was right on the money with the specific style). And that, in my opinion, is the sign of a great store.
Make Blake a must-visit the next time you’re in Portland – you won’t regret it.
Visit Blake at 26 NW 23rd Place Portland, OR 97210 or LoveBlake.com.