Whether you’re a fan of fedoras, fur jackets or gator-skinned shoes, whether you’re high-fashion-fabulous or techno-grunge, Detroit is the spot to study, experience, manufacture and find the fashion you’re looking for.
Detroit is a fashion hub, say some. Some say it has always been.
Detroiters are known for setting fashion trends around the globe. Behemoths in the fashion industry, such as Motown and Cadillac are no strangers to our downtown shopping malls and suburban centers. They use these areas to launch new products and retail shops.
Fashion brands are finally recognizing that Detroit is a great city for fashinonistas.
It’s also a place where fashion professionals are engaging the next generation of designers and building an ever-expanding infrastructure where each generation helps the next crop thrive.
The College for Creative Studies and Carhartt hosted an exhibition called Detroitissimi, which featured a collective of Detroit designers.
More:Detroit fashion designers travel to Italy for the menswear tradeshow. Why they were invited
Detroit Denim, Boswell K. Walker Collective and B. May Bags, Deviate and other brands understood the significance of Detroit in the fashion world. They formed partnerships with fashion institutions and educational institutions.
“I think that Detroit has historically always had a mysticism about it, especially in Europe,” said Aki Choklat, Linda Dresner Endowed Chair in Fashion Design at the College of Creative Studies. “It’s not just because of the Motown heritage, but also the influence of techno for my generation.
“Detroit has always been a cool and edgy place to go to. I was immediately intrigued when I received the invitation to Detroit. These European brands probably feel the same. It’s really, really incredible when I mention the word ‘Detroit,’ 100% of the people are instantly curious about it. Detroit has a golden opportunity in fashion to be reborn in that way, and I want to be respectful of the people that say ‘Detroit has always been cool,’ but the world doesn’t know that.”
Detroitissimi showcased the best of Detroit. This included a collection handcrafted jeans by Detroit Denim, millinery contemporary from Boswell and high-end bags from. May Bags and Deviate, a sustainable, unique streetwear brand, as well as contemporary menswear by K. Walker were presented in Florence to an audience of international visitors.
“I’m finally seeing the industry start to recognize Detroit as a potential design and manufacturing powerhouse for apparel, especially sustainable apparel,” said Brenna Lane, owner/CEO of Detroit Denim Company.
“There have been so many people in Detroit and Michigan working on making Detroit a viable option for sustainable domestic apparel manufacturing for decades. I feel like it’s just starting to get some traction nationally and now internationally. And I’d be remiss to not mention the crucial work that groups like Design Core Detroit and ISAIC (Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center) are doing to make sure that the attention and resources that come with that are being equitably applied and distributed. DCD’s work with Gucci ChangeMakers to highlight Black designers without exploitation is so important. … Detroit, especially in the fashion community, supports its people. I think Detroit has always been able to parse out the real from the glittery.”
More:Three Metro Detroit retailers report that fashion trends are changing. Here’s what
The College for Creative Studies and these five Detroit brands’ efforts weren’t just about turning a profit. It was to see the next Detroit designer shine. Detroit may have become a fashion hub because of this communal mindset.
“While Detroit may still be on the journey to solidify its status as a global fashion Mecca, the city’s growing reputation as a hub of creativity, innovation, and unique style is garnering attention and admiration worldwide,” said Ken Walker, founder and CEO of K. Walker & Co., housed in Corktown. “I’m still blown away that my brand was invited onto a global stage like Pitti Uomo to showcase authentic Detroit style. The experience opened my eyes to how far we have come as a city and the common threads that we have with international markets such as Italy.”
Michigan Talent: Keeping Michigan talent Michigan
There’s supporting your student’s dreams, and then there’s what Loren Hicks did for her fellow designers with the creation of Michigan Fashion Week, which completed its 11th year this summer.
Photo GalleryFashion lovers fill the Eastern Market to watch the fashion show in 2022
Hicks stated that the talent was so unbridled, she committed to an open-call showcase in the style of New York Fashion Week for which she auditioned hundreds of emerging models and designers.
“My goal has always been to keep those talented fashion students from leaving Michigan,” said Hicks, founder and CEO of Michigan Fashion Week.
“My goal for Michigan Fashion Week has always been to keep the fashion talent here,” Hicks said. “We produce events, access resources and make sure they have what they need to grow as a fashion designer. We have 18 streetwear and 16 high-fashion designers displaying their work this year. I want people to come from all over the world to experience Detroit fashion.”
Michigan Fashion Week, a show that is in high demand in Detroit due to Loren Hicks LOJO Online Retail Store and her flourishing Loren Hicks LOJO Shop, has grown into one of the city’s most sought-after fashion shows. Hicks, a fashion designer and entrepreneur, has been able to flourish in an industry which is sink or swim.
Tracy Reese founded Hope for Flowers in New York City in 1988. Her clients included Michelle Obama and Tracey Ross (daughter of Diana Ross), as well as Sarah Jessica Parker.
Hope for Flowers’ vibrant workspace is housed in the city’s YouthVille Center, a facility that’s alive with children participating in academic and cultural programs. The space, which is home to her expanding team, handles everything from marketing to design, and includes colorful furniture with mixed prints, as well as clothing racks.
Other artists and brands like Tommey Walker’s Detroit vs. Everybody, Brendan Blumentritt,’s Detroit Hustles Harder and Mia Rey’s Glam-Aholic Lifestyle are also inspiring the next generation of Michigan fashion entrepreneurs.
Detroit Month of Design is a citywide collaboration of creatives that gathers designers and the greater community to celebrate Detroit’s role as a national and global design center, returning for its 12th annual edition this September.
Detroit became the first U.S. city to be designated as a UNESCO City of Design in 2015. Detroit Month of Design celebrates this designation by bringing together emerging retailers, established brand and institutions of higher learning to display their latest works and concepts. These cross-disciplinary activities take place all over the city.
Gucci opened a 3500-square foot store on Library Street a little over a year ago. During the Month of Design last year, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, they hosted an exhibit called “Building a lasting impact” featuring 24 designers and academics.
The vast program for this year includes dozens events, workshops and installations around design modes ranging from architecture to fashion and animation.
Here you can view the complete schedule of events.