A Letter from DG3’s President: It’s Time To Change the World’s Perception of Detroit Fashion

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I am often interviewed regarding various fashion topics that have Detroit relevance, and during those interviews I am typically asked, “How do you describe Detroit fashion?”

It’s not an easy answer. And it’s not because we are not a fashionable town. It’s because we don’t fit into any mold.

In New York, even the tourists have a handle on New York fashion: sleek, all-black, loads of fabulous flat boots. How about LA? Colorful, whimsical, sometimes risky, loads of fabulous of bare skin.

It’s not that easy for us. Here, I see everything from vintage princesses to Chanel royalty. And from one day to the next, they can transition from solid neutrals to patterns of primary colors, strictly depending on their moods. Maybe that’s it: we’re a moody town. After all, we all know if you don’t like the weather here, wait 15 minutes. Perhaps our constant change to adapt to our weather patterns fuels our constant need to play with our styles.

Media outlets have trouble defining Detroit style, too, but in a more challenging way. They don’t know how to categorize us, how to celebrate us, how to use us. And as a result, they sweep us under the rug and focus their sartorial attention on New York, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, even Dallas. Just not Detroit.

For years, I’ve flipped through national fashion magazines, looking for the tiniest mention of us. A great designer’s new blouse, a fabulous boutique that’s worth the airfare, a fashion photographer about to be gobbled up by Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar. I flipped and flipped and flipped and flipped. The only magazine to recognize our existence in all these years is Allure. It’s not a lot of attention, but at least our cities are included for best blowout, best colorist, etc.

It’s only since summer that Detroit has started to pique the interest of national fashion editors. Ever since Vogue’s Anna Wintour stepped onto our soil for the Detroit Institute of the Arts' exhibition of the work of photographer Bruce Weber, and proclaimed in her June 2014 editor’s letter:

“…one destination we’ve included that may prove surprising is Detroit. With all the negative depictions of the city one reads nowadays, it might seem to be a place one would only want to escape from. That’s terribly sad. Given the role Detroit played in so many ways in defining America in the twentieth century, its iconic status should only be burnished. At Condé Nast, the company that publishes Vogue, there has been much discussion about what we can do to help. Then, quite by chance, I was having lunch with the photographer Bruce Weber. I had barely glanced at the menu before Bruce announced, simply, ‘I love Detroit.’ Which is why you will find his wonderful images of its inhabitants, proud and invincible, in ‘City Rhythm’, a curtain-raiser to an exhibition Bruce is having at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Since we’re urging you to try something new, a trip to Detroit to see his pictures in person not only would count as that but might also give the city the boost it so badly needs.”

Since then, Glamour included Detroiters in their October issue’s “Wear It to Work”, and Elle did a full fashion feature in the city (although I was NOT a fan). We are becoming trendy – and in the opposite of the ruin-porn way. And we have to capitalize on this opportunity.

We are a talented fashion community. Really talented. However, if you were to hashtag Detroit fashion, you would see a really wide variety of images. Including bad design. We wanted to ensure that the national media would have an easy way to see the best of the best of Detroit fashion. So we created an Instagram account called Detroit Fashion Scene. We quietly launched it last week and I’m using this post to officially announce it to everyone. Detroit Fashion Scene is a well-curated platform to showcase beautiful images and great moments for Detroit fashion designers, wardrobe stylists, photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, models and retailers. Once we have a good number of images posted, I’ll be sharing our Instagram with all of my New York editor contacts. We want Detroit Fashion Scene to be the place national and international media go to see what’s going on with Detroit fashion.

One of our greatest challenges as a fashion community is how to unite us all. Sure, there are various types of memberships and other groups, but it’s always going to be a small sampling of what’s really here. This Instagram account is our solution to uniting our community and showcasing exactly why the national media should be paying attention to us.

If you would like to be included, please send info and images to detroitgarmentgroup@gmail.com. Please understand that by sending items to us, it does not guarantee inclusion.

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