Table of Contents is a concept shop that sells clothing and objects from a storefront just inside the gates of Portland’s Chinatown, opened in September by two local designers. So when one of them, Joseph Magliaro, told us that “the goal of TOC is to produce an expanded notion of what a publication can be,” well, you can’t blame us if we were a smidge confused. But it turns out that Magliaro and his other half, Shu Hung, prefer to look at their store as a kind of magazine come to life — a place where the things we’re all reading about now, or should be, are actually there to have and to hold, and where every fashion season brings a new “editorial” theme. Currently, the store’s offerings are based loosely around the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote “Action Is Character”; spring/summer’s “A Piece of Cloth,” a reference to Issey Miyake’s back-to-basics philosophy, will usher in not only a fresh batch of related acquisitions but a series of special commissions by designers responding to the directive. “Our interests are a bit too varied to stick to one thing,” Magliaro says. “The themes help us focus.”
They also represent the pair’s attempt to push Table of Contents beyond the standard shop experience into something more multi-faceted, an aspiration partly inspired by two other great retail experiments: Comme des Garçons and Opening Ceremony. When the latter first opened in New York, Hung was running an (actual) magazine called IN- out of its back office — one similarly dedicated to a new theme each issue, like INcandescent or INcognito — and she had a firsthand view of its influence. It wasn’t until a year or two later, though, that she and Magliaro found the final spark for the shop they’d eventually open themselves. “In 2004 we happened upon the first Comme des Garçons guerilla store in Berlin,” Magliaro says. “Before then we’d never realized retail could go beyond a transactional experience, creating an environment that appealed to all the senses.”
Granted there may not be anything to taste at TOC, but the spread is still pretty diverse — furniture by local newcomer Jason Rens, tactile objects by Carl Aübock, dresses by Zero + Maria Cornejo, vintage magazines and collectibles from Magliaro and Hung’s personal collections, book stands designed by the couple themselves. They also get a little help from friends to shake things up: “We feature a rotating reading list of 10 books selected for us by someone we admire; we often find new artists and topics to explore that way,” says Magliaro. As he talks you through some of the myriad items currently stocked at TOC, via the slideshow at right, hopefully you will too.