Who We Are
Duchess, Clothier is a tiny enterprise seated in the small urban paradise of Portland, Oregon. Founded as a one-lady operation in 2005, Duchess has grown into business that provides all its employees fulfilling work-lives and its customers the thrill of high quality suits and other garments, both custom and off-the-rack, as well as excellent, impassioned, and insightful service.
What Makes Duchess Different?
Communication is the secret to success. Our approach has always been to sit with the client and listen to their preferences, observe their personal style, and ask the right questions. The advantage we have is that most retailers are behind the ball when it comes to understanding the language of masculine v. feminine silhouettes, let alone anything in-between. Our goal is that each client – from those who walk in not knowing what they want to those with particular taste and needs – feels comfortable, confident and celebrated throughout the process to the final result.
Each individual has their own unique style, and our designs are simply a beginning to a longer conversation with the client. Every detail is lovingly and painstakingly gone over in the consultation process, from choosing the fabric, stylistic details, fit preferences, and notions to over twenty measurements of the client’s body.
What We Believe
When a person dons a suit that is made specifically and especially for them, they experience a higher sense of self-esteem, dapperness, dash, and pride that is generally lacking in our present era of casualness.
Suit-wear is a seemingly lost art. Duchess, Clothier finds the concept of people in suits rather exciting and is here to help people of all styles find and exemplify the best looks in suits for them. In an era where anything and everything is acceptable and all rules governing dress have been hopelessly dashed aside, Duchess strives to provide the stylish human with whatever suit styles they fancy, from whatever eras they fancy. Suits have remained virtually unchanged for two hundred years, and for good reason. A good suit is comfortable, attractive, and commanding.
Meet Our Team!
Katie opened her first business, Etoile Boutique, in 2007 to provide a platform for her own line of handmade clothing, along with championing other local/independent designers and artists. Along with running a small business, she has worked extensively in art education, as well as apparel production, manufacturing, and design. As General Manager and Consultant, Katie focuses primarily on working with clients to create their dream suits, designing apparel and maintaining the flow. Katie is particularly partial to Harris tweeds, stinky cheeses, The Mighty Boosh, and pugs. Her favorite color is mustard.
Rachel-Marie is a jack of all trades. As a student in arts magnet schools here in Portland, she fell in love with every unique craft she encountered, from photography to modern dance. How was she to pick just one as a career? After completing a BA in philosophy, she taught herself to sew. Here at Duchess, she is able to satisfy her love of meticulous sewing, as well as her affinity for bonding with customers over impeccably well-fitted garments as a consultant. Seeing people feel delighted and confident about themselves in clothes she helped to create? That is her favorite thing. Well, that and craft cider.
Baili's career in clothing started at four years old when she crafted a dress made of towels stapled together. When she outgrew her stapler, she ventured off to Oregon State University where she graduated with a degree in both Apparel Design and Merchandising Management. Her dream was to find a way she could combine her love of fashion with social justice and body empowerment, which led her to Duchess. There is no cookie she can't bake, and has been known to use her books as a ladder when decorating her apartment.
Head of Alterations
Erich comes from a long line of talented tailors, seamstresses, and fiber artisans and is proud to carry on the family tradition. His first job was at So-Fro Fabrics in West Seneca, New York. While there he learned to sew and embroider. Years later he taught himself how to crochet and designed crochet toys (and made more doilies than any man in the twenty-first century actually needs). In 2011, he became obsessed with the finer points of menswear and turned his attention to the apparel industry. When not altering suits at Duchess or designing for his nascent menswear line Favorite Son, he can be found enjoying quiet time at home with his husband and cat, reading, or watching horror films.
At any given moment, Erin is likely thinking about a piece of clothing. How was it constructed? What does the fabric feel like? What mood or era does it evoke? Her passion for apparel became a career path when she started the Apparel Design certificate program at the Portland Fashion Institute in 2016. Altering garments at Portland's finest clothier is a dream come true for Erin. She hopes to continue this line of work for many years to come. If you know Erin, you know that she hates spiders! You might not know that one of her favorite types of duck is the Common Merganser--alias, "Goosander"--because of its crazy hairdo and its tendency to make like a submarine.
Seyta Selter, Founding Duchess
The founding Duchess was born in a forest of evergreens at twilight in Washington state. Duchess began as a vintage reproduction shop for the people of Portland, but metamorphosized when Seyta wished more people would wear dapper suits. If Duchess, then, is a dream made real, it was dreamed a long time ago by a young, feisty Leo with a penchant for subtle brilliance and an abiding connection to nature. Seyta will always be present with the Duchess dream, but her focus is currently on her work as visiting professor at The Evergreen State College, where she teaches consciousness studies and dreams.