1. Nationally Recognized Fashion Designers
John Varvatos opened a store in downtown Detroit; Tracy Reese and Kevan Hall were keynote speakers at FashionSpeak, an annual conference from Detroit Garment Group (DGG) that focuses on the business of fashion; and Anna Sui has spoken at a Penny Stamps Speaker series put on by The Institute for the Humanities and Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3).
2. Budding Local Designers and Brands
Hundreds of designers are living and working in and around Detroit creating beautiful products including men’s, women’s and children’s wear, jewelry and accessories, handbags, even undergarments. Detroit staples in the local fashion industry include Detroit Denim, Detroit in the New Black, Cyberoptix Tie Lab, Lawrence Hunt, Rebel Nell, Mr. Song Millinery, Maggie’s Organics, Brightly Twisted and Jolie Altman, just to name a few. Newer brands such as Z Ballerini, 1701 Bespoke, Goldeluxe Jewelry, Lawrence Hunt and Douglas and Co. Detroit are hitting it out of the park as well.
3. Detroit’s First Fashion Incubator
DGG launched the city’s first (and state’s second) fashion incubator in November 2015. The incubator houses up to 10 designers-in-residence and allows serious Michigan-based designers access to industrial machinery, design software, mentorship and, most important, business-related education to assist in growing their businesses.
4. Retail in Midtown & Elsewhere
From well-known shops like, Shinola and Nora to newbies that include Will Leather Goods, Third Man Records and pop-up shops sprinkled around the neighborhood, Midtown is the place to go for all your shopping needs. And some stores offer more than just a good browse; Will Leather Goods has a coffee shop and a small art gallery inside the store. Capitol Park is home to Bird Bee, a new boutique favorite in Detroit. And Corktown’s main drag has men’s store George Gregory.
5. Industrial Sewing Industry
While most of the industrial sewing happening in and around the city is automotive, local companies such as the Empowerment Plan, Detroit Sewn, Shinola, Douglas and Co. Detroit and Detroit Denim are doing some industrial sewing of their own. The industrial sewing trade is expanding, and to keep up with demand, Henry Ford College M-TEC in Dearborn offers an Industrial Sewing Certificate Program for the under- and unemployed. This same training program has expanded to Grand Rapids Community College, Lansing Community College and St. Clair County Community College.
6. Fashion Merchandising and Design Schools
Wayne State University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and Michigan State University, among others, offer programs for both fashion design and fashion merchandising. The College for Creative Studies just launched the Fashion Accessories Design program in partnership with Shinola and has the Council of Fashion Designers of America in its arsenal to advise the program. The amount of talent graduating from these programs each year is high, and these graduates are hungry for all of the fashion-related jobs in Detroit.
7. Fash Bash
Every August, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) partners with Neiman Marcus to throw its biggest fundraiser, which also happens to be the most fashionable. The glamorous crowd steps up their game, and with the DIA as the backdrop to the evening, it’s like being transported to any of the major fashion weeks. Cocktails are served before the show, local models in Neiman Marcus garb strut down the runway, and when the show is over, attendees head outside for an evening of fun under the stars.
Learn more about shopping in Detroit.