Barnes and Morgan, a Tea and Fashion House, Opens in Portland Old Town

Gerard Ortiz

At Barnes and Morgan in Aged Town, tea sets, gathered from estate revenue, sit on shelves mounted on brick walls. Mismatched mild fixtures hold above the counter, shining mild on a tray of baklava. A team arrives in to look at out the space, and Amir Morgan — a tea purveyor, textile artist, and clothes designer — greets them warmly. As a substitute of handing them a menu, he asks queries about what they like.

“I like mint tea,” a single says.

“Peppermint? Spearmint?”

“Ginger is excellent as well.”

“Well for a solid ginger…” Morgan says, reaching for a black canister. The visitor laughs. “I can scent it from in this article.”

As numerous buyers enter the fashionable, minimalist shop, Morgan requires a comparable strategy. He digs by way of drawers and cabinets to unearth luggage of tea leaves, herbs, some curled into tiny spheres, other folks reminiscent of dried bouquets. Although individuals wait for their tea to steep, his mother, Diane Barnes Morgan, greets each individual consumer, offering to present them the again place exactly where Morgan keeps his artwork.

Barnes and Morgan Tea and Threads — portion tea store, part trend house, which opened in late January — is contrary to quite a few of either classification. In the entrance room, Morgan sells pots of tea, sourced from local providers like Tea Freak and Jasmine Pearl as perfectly as international distributors. Morgan will quickly fill faucets at the front counter with iced sweetened teas, kombuchas, and other tea-based mostly beverages. Via an archway in the again, any visitor can stroll by his workspace, a showroom of hats, vests, and distinctive 1-piece jumpsuits, one thing involving overalls and a go well with.

Morgan’s artwork has constantly been textiles and trend, but tea has been a part of his daily life for considerably more time. He grew up in a dwelling that used tea in lieu of medicine his father would make pots of ginger and ginseng tea to handle colds. And, rising up in North Carolina, sweet tea was a cultural phenomenon a pitcher was constantly shut at hand when browsing a friend’s property. With his new tea store and storefront, Morgan needs to develop a room that’s as welcoming as his household, and showcases the full spectrum of who he is as an artist. “When I welcome people today into this place, I give tea,” he states. “If a person welcomes you into their residence, you offer you them tea.”

Tea counter at Barnes and Morgan.

Amir Morgan at Barnes and Morgan.
Carla J. Peña/Eater Portland

In 2008, Morgan determined he was likely to provide back overalls. He begun to experiment with tailoring and suiting, and hoped to debut some styles at a friend’s Kentucky Derby marriage ceremony. He sent his sketches to his sister, who sews, and she aided him complete two one-piece fits: A person for the Derby, and a different for the wedding ceremony.

Two decades afterwards, Morgan moved to Portland from Southern California to get a task at Nike. Soon after settling in, he felt an urge to return to his jumpsuits, this time a minor additional intentionally. In its place of just building a line of clothes to offer on the internet, he turned them into artwork displays: situations held at galleries and function spaces with food and stay new music, where folks could see his function. But following a though, he discovered the gatherings weren’t supporting him link with the larger local community. “People wouldn’t go to the museum simply because it didn’t sense welcoming,” he says. “At galleries, people today felt clique-y.”

Alternatively, he considered about what it would search like to open a store or gallery that was inherently welcoming, a spot that inspired discussion. A cafe came to head: a 3rd area, in which persons could chat in excess of a heat consume, and wade into the world of style in their possess way. “The concept is to meet up with persons exactly where they are at,” he states. “We want this to be a room for people to check out their very own expression.”

In the back room, open up to anybody who visits, two Nike-swoosh-adorned vinyl couches deal with each other by a fire, a spot to sit and relax, or communicate by way of a bespoke outfits piece. A wearable heritage of Morgan’s work hangs at the rear of the couches, together with a Tasmanian tiger-influenced jumpsuit with an open back and overalls manufactured of cyanotyped fabric. A white one particular-piece, covered in doodles and signatures with marker, served as the signal-in for a 2016 displaying. The couches were being a section of a Sneaker Week occasion.

While Barnes and Morgan products are principally bespoke, the designer desires people to be equipped to test merchandise on, and accommodates everybody from a measurement additional-compact to a 4-XL. It is aspect of his wish to help people today figure out who they are, how they want to present. “I constantly say clothes is an straightforward way to story-convey to without the need of indicating anything at all,” he suggests. “We want individuals to occur in and ask queries, to attempt factors on.”

Barnes and Morgan’s clothing showroom, with vests on mannequins, Nike couches, overalls, etc.

The back again room at Barnes & Morgan.
Carla J. Peña/Eater Portland

Amir Morgan flips through his clothing in the back room of Barnes & Morgan.

Amir Morgan.
Carla J. Peña/Eater Portland

Morgan doesn’t pretend to be the most educated tea purveyor. He’s learning as he goes, absorbing what he can from the men and women all-around him. He intentionally serves a extensive spectrum of designs, unafraid of offering sweeteners and sugars, allowing men and women drink their teas having said that they like. “I’m unquestionably not an expert in tea, but this is a place to investigate a thing new,” he states. “I’m hooked up to the outfits piece. I’m not striving to make you search like me. Tea is the very same. I have things I like, but I want you to test it.”

For Morgan, discovering the common thread involving the two areas of himself — and himself and his shoppers — is the objective. For him, that prevalent thread is the potential to get to know just one one more, to take a look at and master about a thing collectively. And at Barnes and Morgan, that can transpire more than a cup of oolong.

Barnes and Morgan is found at 131 NW 2nd Avenue.

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