Fashion trucks roll into town

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Fashion trucks roll into town

Angela Perez de Tagle, Staff Writer

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Big city fashionistas take over the streets — literally — as fashion’s latest trend, fashion trucks, gain popularity.

Inspired by well-known Los Angeles food trucks that first emerged several years prior, the innovative “fashion” truck brings the same concept while introducing a new product of desire: clothing.

“I’ve never heard of fashion trucks before, but I think it’s a great, new way for designers and stylists to make a name for themselves out in the fashion industry,” said senior Jenny Chen.

The fashion truck fad began in 2010 and has since then found its way into many large cities across the nation, including San Francisco.

In May 2012, San Francisco was introduced to its first-ever fashion truck, TopShelf. Christina Ruiz, founder of the mobile company, was a Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) graduate who aimed to make herself known in a unique way.

“I’ve always wanted to open my own store, but I couldn’t find a space I could afford. Every place was either too competitive or too expensive,” said Ruiz.

After doing some research, Ruiz discovered the trendy trucks and realized “it was something a little more edgy and different.” This was something she was willing to invest her time and money in.

“It seemed like the perfect fit for me and my personality,” said Ruiz.

Once she had made the decision to pursue her fashion truck project, Ruiz hunted through Craigslist for the perfect candidate for her mobile clothing store.

“I would think that starting a business through fashion and food trucks is really difficult. You would need to find the right vehicle to suit your needs, remodel it so that it matches the theme you’re going for, and then be willing to gamble your money buying resources and selling products people may or may not want,” said Chen.

Ruiz eventually happened upon a 24-foot-long Chevy van, which she was determined to transform with the help of vintage wallpaper, brand new tiles, a fitting room, and even a collapsible staircase.

Ruiz’s idea was to hand-pick certain styles of clothing and accessories, because she knew that one of the best ways to win customers was to promise one-of-a-kind trends with a one-of-a-kind experience.

“The appeal is the experience. Everyone wants to run home and tell their friends, ‘Look what I bought at a truck!’ You’re creating this fun, fresh new way to shop,” said Hollywood fashion stylist, Dana Calabrese Ensrud.

Ruiz’s success has brought the TopShelf fashion truck throughout various locations across the San Francisco Bay Area. Within the last two years, Ruiz was also able to establish her own TopShelf boutique, located in the Crocker Galleria.

“I think there’s power in numbers, and I’d be silly to think I’m going to be the only one doing this here. I’m hoping the idea will gain popularity and grow, and maybe even form a little community. Hopefully, I’m in the right place at the right time,” said Ruiz.

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