Maine designer brings fashion bargains to Freeport
FREEPORT, Maine - A white shirt with dark slacks is practically my travel uniform, so I couldn’t resist Jill McGowan among the usual suspects of outlet stores on Freeport’s main drag.
McGowan worked as a patternmaker for men’s shirts and has seamlessly transferred her skills to creating distinctive shirts for women. She founded her company in 1994 and her designs are carried in boutiques around the country. After a couple of successful pop-up stores, McGowan opened the Freeport shop (her only retail outlet) last November. McGowan has branched out into knitwear and to colored and patterned fabrics, but she retains a soft spot for the classic white shirt.
The shop carries her current lines at full price, but also features an outlet corner where first-quality merchandise, including off-season or overstock items, may be discounted as much as 80 percent. Everything is made in the United States, using beautiful fabrics from small mills in Europe and Japan. Sales clerks are happy to help when needed, but know when to stand back and let customers finger the soft fabrics and examine the well-crafted details.
Even with McGowan’s fine pieces, I sometimes wonder if my basic travel wardrobe is a little, well, too basic. Jolene McGowan, who creates the store displays, had a few suggestions. “The white shirt is just a canvas,’’ she said. “Add a funky sweater, a striped T-shirt, a denim jacket, a scarf, a belt, some jewelry. The more layering the better.’’
I think I’m going to need a bigger suitcase.
PATRICIA HARRIS Jill McGowan Retail, 56 Main St., Freeport, Maine. 207-865-0909, Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun 11-5.