Introducing an Oakland Power Suit

Skylier Blanchard-Crowder brings fashion design and manufacturing to Oakland’s 12th Street as the classic power suit.


Photo by Lance Yamamoto

Oaklander Skylier Blanchard-Crowder knows something about sticking to principle. While the hot political discussion of the day revolves around bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States, Blanchard-Crowder is doing just that—and rocking the classic power suit.

“My mission was to produce clothing here,” said Blanchard-Crowder, who cut her teeth on all aspects of the business, including design, manufacturing, and marketing, at Lilli Ann in San Francisco and in Europe in the mid-’90s. Such a simple statement, however, belies the enormity of the task. It took her two years to find a local garment company before she settled on a manufacturer on 12th Street in Oakland.

While Blanchard-Crowder, who is the sole designer of Skylier Wear, touts her knack for beautiful wedding dresses and unique design, right now she is focused on the basics. “With all the new jobs and the changing economy, I thought women would want one or two suits.” Her website offers a package deal with four pieces—blazer, skirt, pants, and blouse—for less than $150.

Blanchard-Crowder has taken on a teaching role to pass on the ins and outs of the business to the next generation in Sacramento. “If we want to produce here in America, we have to train our people in these skills.” Right now she has 18 young designers under her wing, learning every step in the process from conception to shelf.

“I think it’s a good time for small companies to start producing here because of the Internet,” she said. “A company can have 50 pieces in stock as opposed to 2,000 and use an Amazon for shipping and distribution, so your cost goes down.” This is good news for Blanchard-Crowder, who loves calling herself a mom-and-pop operation. “I want to make clothes with the community in mind. I love having a face-to-face relationship with my manufacturer. I’m very excited for what I have done so far.”

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