One of the most interesting things about travelling, even just to another state, is that I often become more aware of the unique qualities of the lifestyle in my city once I’ve left it. I have been living in the Pacific Northwest for about ten years. I usually don't even realize how much I have been absorbed into the PWN lifestyle until I visit other cities such as San Francisco or New York.
On one of those trips, my friends decided that we should spend part of the day going on a “nature walk.” I interpreted that as being like a hike I would probably expect at home, and I emerged from the car with three different types of fleece layers and my “casual” hiking boots. My friend was wearing converse and the same clothes she was wearing when we got coffee. She looked me up and down and reminded me that this was really just a little walk. I was over prepared to say the least, but at home this felt like the status quo.
I started to realize that being perpetually primed for the damp weather has also seeped into the trends and style in the area. The propensity for darker tones and plaid is definitely part of the norm in PNW style, but there is also a certain camaraderie with the love for outdoorsy adventures amongst the many neighbouring mountains. Tahnee and Tory, the owners and designers of Wish You Were Northwest apparel, have taken that idea and have made it the foundation for their business.
Starting with their founding design: NRTHWST, they have designed shirts that would make most Seattleites say, “Oh my god, I need this.” Their clothing line includes simple cottony shirts and sweats that have phrases such as Drive All Day Dream All Night, Hella Trees, Tryna Hike, Wander Forvever, and Meet Me In The Fog.
I think one of the reasons that the Wish You Were Northwest clothing brand is so successful is not only because it effortlessly embodies the PNW lifestyle, but also because Tahnee and Tory are Washington locals who have been genuinely living this magical outdoorsy PNW life since they were kids. They are not jumping on the bandwagon, but are actually leading the charge!
I read that you are originally from the Pacific Northwest and outdoorsy as you were growing up. What made you decide to bring in apparel in to that expression?
We both have always really loved fashion and this area and decided to combine the two. That is kind of the simple answer! It was actually most Tahnee’s idea to create the shirt. And I thought we could do a Northwest theme. She came up with the first design: NORTHWEST. It just kind of made sense for us!
I [Tahnee] worked in retail for a long time. Started at Nordstrom, but what really got me into fashion was when I worked in Public Relations for Nieman Marcus in San Diego and doing fashion shows. I think that what really got me into it: all of the work and excitement leading up to it.
What was your childhood like? How has it contributed to your company and style now?
We actually grew up in a log house. Our family has actually lived in more than one throughout our lives. It is funny because our mom’s style is actually what is very much in right now. Like the Urban Outfitter’s cabin style. She has always said that she would live in the forest if she could! And now that aesthetic has actually become the trend now.
Our vision has pretty much stayed the same. We have always wanted to be more minimal and understated. Going forward we would love to design our own clothes. We are actually working on a jacket right now! But keep that same core idea of what it is now. We want to keep our same vibe as we grow in the future.
You've got some beautiful pictures around the area! How often are you doing these trips? Do you ever feel pressure to go more frequently in order to keep with your social media presence?
We go on drives around the state more than anything. That has always been true about our brand is that it has been part of our lifestyle. Never something we have had to force for the aesthetic that we present. We used to hike more, but now with kids they do not like to hike at all! So if you count getting out of the car and walking around a hike, then yes. Our husbands also are into photography, so a lot of times we are taking photos on our family trips! Plus our community on Instagram is really amazing and supportive. Some of our photos we feature are from them and the outdoors trips they take while wearing our shirts.
We mostly get really positive feedback from people on our product and our photos. Probably the only negative comments have been from people who say that you can’t actually hike in our shirts. But the funniest part is that I actually do hike in these! I always laugh because my husband was a biking guide and wore anything at all times on these trips. So if you are comfortable in jean shorts and t-shirt, then do it! There aren’t any rules, and we just like to be out there! And that is what I really love about our brand and how it can be empowering: you can look cute if you want in the woods. Or don’t! You don’t have to be experiencing the outdoors in any particular way. We hope that feeling comes through.
I read recently that you were dealing with another company taking your designs? What happened and how did you deal with that challenge?
We did, and it was Walmart and Nordstrom Rack. We found that they had taken our Tryna Hike and the Road trips and Doughnuts designs.
We will do a lot of research before we put out a design to make sure we don’t see any shirts being sold that already has that style. So it can be disheartening when we find out that other companies or individuals will take our designs or actual photos from our website and try to sell it. A lot of times we just have to let them know that it is our design and they will usually take it down. It can just be kind of hard because a lot of time it is text and you don’t necessarily own the words. Inspiration is one thing, and sometimes there is a natural overlap. Other times there is blatant copying. We just have try to do our best and roll with it.
You can shop their store and keep up with their future events on their website: https://wishyouwerenorthwest.com/
Thank you Tahnee and Tory for the interview!
Words By Lindsey Potter
Pictures By Tanner Wendell Stewart (@tannerwendellstewart)
Keen on finding out more of Seattle's unique culture? Or maybe you're more interested in its people? Doesn't matter, we have it all in our Issue 2! Check it out here: https://store.acitymadebypeople.com/