Detroit, Fashion and a Flury of Activity
Get ready, Detroit. The next few weeks hold a wealth of meetings, celebrations and sensational opportunities to see and be seen.
This week, there's Detroit Fashion Week (Sept. 19-25). Then it's Detroit Restaurant Week (Sept. 24-Oct. 3). Oh, and there's also Detroit Gallery Week (Sept. 27-Oct. 3). And there are many more “Detroit Works Project” meetings to attend if you want your say on how the city will look now and into the future.
This time around, I got a chance to get the skinny on Fashion Week from Doug Elbinger, noted photographer (think Detroit Free Press and beyond) and unofficial public-relations officer for the event. He hopes people will recognize the event for its positivity, its focus on young entrepreneurs and the opportunity to highlight Detroit as a fashion center.
Q: Can anyone attend this seven – even folks like me that dress like a sloppy teenager?
A: Yes! The whole idea is to get the community into this. Fashion is something that's part of our culture and something everyone engages in whether they know it or not. Fashion is all accoutrements of our society: cars, sports, movies, advertising. They all have a sense of fashion. People consciously design it. There is a burgeoning industry in Detroit.
Q: How did Fashion Week get started?
A: (Internationally known fashion photographer) Brian Heath six years ago got together got together designers, models, stylists and all kind of creative people to create this. They came up with the idea of having a fashion exposition. This is modeled after the New York fashion week. And even in a time of great economic and financial distress, it's thriving. It is almost all volunteers. There is no budget for this but we've had great sponsors. There are salons, restaurants, stores – all kind of creative types that get together to make this happen. Most of the events were sold out last year and we have not raised the prices.
Q: So how does anyone make any money?
A: There is a networking event. This is about business and getting people together. A fashion show is really just a party, a chance to get to know people. I'm going there to network. (Detroit) needed a bright, shining light, and Fashion Week is that. It shows everyone there's life here and there's community involvement. And there is all kinds of diversity in the commitment to this event. It's a bright spot. And we're getting the word out there. We've gotten emails from Europe, South America, all over. They're from different fashion buyers, textile companies, makeup companies.
Q: How could a well-designed dress save Detroit?
A: Every little bit helps in terms of what people can contribute to the economy. This also is about retaining talent – young people tend to leave if they think there's nothing here for them. They think Chicago, NY, LA is where it's happening. But Detroit is a place for trendsetters. When Motown started here, it really drew national attention to Detroit as far as what was this sound coming out. Now, there is this burgeoning fashion industry. There are a lot of different crafts and skills that go into this and it's happening in Detroit. … Michigan really has an incredible workforce in the creative arts. I think people think of Detroit as automobiles only. Really, it's more. It's getting a reputation as a little Hollywood also. The movie industry is here, and we can see it happening. Everything about that industry is fashion and style.
MetroMode also did a great piece about some of the designers you will see at the week's events. Check it out here.