Fashion in the Funk Zone

Santa Barbara’s cultural creativity was on full display recently, as Cmnd-Z, a locally owned and operated fashion company in the city’s ‘Funk Zone’ launched its Fall 2012 line in support of the Arts Fund of Santa Barbara.

The Funk Zone serves as a sort of ‘last stand’ in Santa Barbara. It’s home to an eclectic mix of artists, wineries, surf shops, painters, mechanics, watermen, and business owners who have resisted the more ‘corporate,’ tourist-driven trend that has altered much of the face of this seaside community. It stands to reason that Cmnd-Z, a young, vibrant, forward looking company headed by a young and talented woman calls the Funk Zone home.

“Designing a new collection is very theme-based,” says owner and designer Lindsey Mickelson. “My summer collection is based on the Mayan calendar and the belief that the world will end in 2012. I immersed myself in Mayan and Shaman religion and dissected their stories to create my own meaning. My fall line is based on the movie Thrive and is centered around sacred geometry, astrology, crop circles and the creation of life.”

On this evening, with cool, blue lights setting the mood and artwork adorning the walls at the American Riviera, another locally owned Funk Zone business, the gathered crowd eagerly anticipated the start of the show, entitled “The Equinox: An Evening of Art and Fashion.” Indeed, some had attended previous Cmnd-Z fashion shows and knew the caliber and beauty of what lied ahead.

And so it began. The first half of the show focused on the Cmnd-Z summer line, with models outfitted in organic cotton swimwear with the support of Butterflies and Bikinis and jewelry by Emma Sirena, Jessali and Priscilla and Aquila.

A seamless transition shifted gears into a completely new and distinct line. The Cmnd-Z Society is Mickelson’s latest expression, focused on the ‘sophisticated woman.’

“My ultimate goal is for women to feel confident and beautiful,” she says. “The clothes have to be soft and feel good. I want women to be able to live in these clothes. You can go to yoga, to work and even out to a bar in Cmnd-Z.”

Using a neutral pallet that she says reflects her evolution and growth as a designer, Lindsey imprints power messages onto her creations. Some of the fall line captured this, as phrases including “No Timing Better Than Cosmic” and “Your Thoughts Define Reality” cat-walked down the runway on any number of more than a dozen beautiful women.

The designs are bold, sexy and strong, just like the ladies wearing them. But there’s more to Cmnd-Z. While the summer line, as well as lines before it, was designed of organic cotton, the fall line was designed from other sustainable materials, with a heavy reliance on bamboo. That said, Lindsey refuses to call herself a ‘Green Business.’

“Green certification is so complex,” she says. “I don’t even know what it means to be ‘100% green.’ I just do what I do in the best way I know how.”

Cmnd-Z leads by example. All products are designed, screen-printed and produced in-house by a team of four. Ms. Mickelson, Wesly Johnson, Teresa Roberts, and Caitlin Blume consider Cmnd-Z a ‘new generation’ design and print shop, where high efficiency techniques utilizing soy based inks eliminate harmful by-products. The new bamboo line adds to Cmnd-Z’s overall sustainability efforts.

“Any step we can take to lessen our impact is a step in the right direction,” says Lindsey.

And what of the Funk Zone? With the recent influx and support from a range of businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals, the Funk Zone continues to hold it’s ground, shining a light as a unique example of what Santa Barbara used to be like…and perhaps, what it could be again. 

“The Funk Zone could be a pretty self-sustaining community,” says Lindsey before we part ways. “We have a lot of what we need…right here in the middle of town. Throw in a restaurant, a coffee shop and a couple of late night attractions and this could be the new mecca for Santa Barbara’s emerging eco/artistic/cultural renaissance.”

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Written by Eric Cárdenas, LoaTree; Photo Credits, Phillip Van Nostrand at See more images here.

1 Response

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    Ceci Villasenor Johnson

    It was a fantastic evening, a great cause, a fun location, the drinks were yummy, the fashion was wonderful. Great article!

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