…at least that’s what we were told last weekend by someone who had once held a vested interest in the fashion community in Indianapolis. And maybe we shouldn’t take cultural critiques from an experience we had while standing in a bar at 2am on a Saturday night, but it posed an interesting question. Is there any fashion in Indianapolis?
It has been almost 2 months since we posted our article Indianapolis “Press” Week…A Review of Midwest Fashion Week’s Last Night , sadly one of our most viewed post since our website started, even topping interviews with international superstar MYA, fashion editor and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia and CEO of PR firm Peoples Revolution and star of MTV’s The Hills, The City and Kell on Earth Kelly Cutrone; all three fashion and style icons of their own worth.
So, let’s dissect this a little bit, shall we. How does one define whether or not a city “has fashion”? Since the internet is where we go today for ALL of our educational needs, let’s borrow the definition of fashion by Wikipedia. Fashion, a general term for a currently popular style or practice, especially in clothing, foot wear or accessories. Therefore, that would imply that for Indianapolis to “have fashion”, it would need to have it’s own popular style or trend which would be identifiable to Indianapolis. But we think that’s a bit too broad. We believe we’re really talking about Indianapolis being fashionable, aware of style and attempting to move forward in regards to these issues.
Photo courtesy of Erin Finn
Twenty years ago the fashion industry in Indianapolis was known for really only two names; Bill Blass and Alpha Blackburn. Helen Wells was still the talent agency of choice but there were many of agencies as well. There was still a bevy of local models with only a few getting most of the work, such as Erin Finn. But, there was also an undercurrent of local fashions shows by designers and artists such as Stephen Garstang, who produced shows at The Patio and the likes, utilizing music and style to enable a subculture of hopeful artists who all dreamed they would one day make it big. Sound a little bit like Indianapolis today?
Yes and No. Today, we still have Helen Wells, Bill Blass and Alpha Blackburn, but we also have so much more. We have incredible new designers, photographers, stylists, models and producers all hoping to either make it big or at least live their passion. We were criticized horribly for our interpretation of Midwest Fashion Week. Well get over it! We were treated rudely as were many of our friends in the fashion community. And like it or not, we are a substantial part of the fashion community here in Indianapolis. Not only are we attempting to attend and support every fashion show or production, made difficult by the vast amount of fashion shows as of late, but we are also bringing international interviews of fashion icons to our city as well as being invited to fashion and style events all over the country. And we don’t mean this in any way arrogantly. We are simply stating this so that everyone will understand that when we critique something in Indianapolis it is because we only hope to raise the bar and make it as great as possible; something everyone else here is apparently afraid to do…except for us.
In speaking to Althea Harper, finalist for Project Runway, as well as the host of the Midwest Fashion Week After Party, we asked her if she felt Indianapolis designers should be held at any less of a standard because they aren’t showing in New York, Paris or other cities and she stated that she believed they should be held to the same standards if they ever wanted to be taken seriously, explaining that she didn’t believe it was any easier for her to put together a well designed show just because she was living in New York City. Some local designers are showing in other cities such as Arlinda Norris, head designer of powerhouse design firm R.LYNDA, who showed recently at Atlanta Fashion Week. Nikki Blaine recently had her work in swag bags at The Academy Awards and Bloomington streetwear prince Dope Couture is literally changing the face of national streetwear, even having his designs worn by hip hop and rap stars.
And that’s just the beginning. Just over a year ago, we saw the origin of The Indianapolis Fashion Collective who states their mission is “to Empower, Unite, Showcase and Grow the best of Central Indiana’s Fashion Industry talent.”
In the same year, Christy Pastore started her international online fashion magazine Fashion Wrap Up to unbelievable number of worldwide fans. Indiana’s very own Brittany Mason walked in six shows at New York’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and has done international campaigns all over the world. We have several local style blogs such as Haute in the Heartland and The Adventures of Lesalina, not to mention several other blogs and online fashion magazines getting their early start. M Renee Al-Eryani, owner and creator of Curat Handcrafted Soaps is beginning to be noticed on a national level. Truen Jaimes, creative director of House of 5th, is taking his brand and distributing internationally. Other models in Indianapolis have gone on to greater fame and are leaving every day. We have more stylists in Indianapolis now than ever before, led by Nikki Sutton, Zoe Renee Huse and our recent favorite pick DaNisha Greene who literally stole the show at the Roc Da Mic event created by showmaster producer Carolos Kirk. Other Streetwear designers and companies, such as Kaitlin Elyse of T.Party Clothing and the brand new BB40, are bringing a new culture of fashion to Indianapolis that most are taking for granted. And we have educational outlets and internships such as The Art Institute of Indianapolis and Harrison College, something Indiana didn’t have 10 years ago.
Magazine Cover/Photo Courtesy of Fashion Wrap Up
And the list goes on and on and on. The fashion industry in Indianapolis has grown so much in the last few years we can’t even list everyone who belongs on this list. Of course, we have some other favorites, such as photographer Polina Oscherov and brother and sister style team Ian and Erika Stikeleather who in 10 years may be running the fashion industry of Indianapolis. Models Shaunna-Marie Hill, Emily Nyberg, Steve Sebree, Taylor Holden and Alexis Farley. And who will be next? Well, hopefully all of the above as we’re huge fans…but what about photographer Robin Marchant from Ball State who has played such a sublime role in Indianapolis’ Fashion Scene? Could she be the next huge thing out of Indiana? We think so. Emily Nyberg and Alexis Farley will most definitely be names to remember. And remember DaNisha Greene…we’re putting our money on her. Not to mention some of the students we saw at The Midwest Fashion Week Student Show which absolutely blew us away!
So yes…Indianapolis does have fashion. Tons of it! The reality is that the person who told us that had absolutely NO idea what they were talking about, which is why we wished them good luck on their new endeavor and went on our way. We believe in the fashion industry in Indianapolis, but we don’t believe in how it’s run. Some of the mainstays who want to dictate how things should be run need to move out of the way or become more supportive to ALL of the fashion in Indianapolis. And you know who you are. We aren’t talking about the Helen Wells’ or the Alpha Blackburns who have continue year after year to endorse this community. We’re talking about the ones who want it their way or no way. Well…as good ole Bob Dylan once said, the times they are a-changin! There is so much fashion in Indianapolis right now we can’t even keep track of it! And this chaos that has begun will one day settle down, weed itself out and we will emerge as a town to be reckoned with seriously.
Photo Courtesy of Shaunna-Marie Hill
Our style is individualized as well. Our closet could literally be split down the middle, one half dedicated to Diesel and Joe’s Jeans while the other side is filled to the brim with Broadripple Vintage and Rag-a-Rama. Our house is littered with every style magazine from Vogue to Elle to GQ, Details and Arena. We interview people who know iconic style such as Nina Garcia and we adore models who have individual style, such as Velvet D’Amour and Dita Von Teese! We know fashion. We know style. We have our own, even if it’s off the rack or hidden in the backpack of a cowboy. Everyone has their own style. And that’s what makes it fun. Fashion is supposed to be seriously fun! Do what you want. Buy what you want. Make what you want. As RuPaul says, “We’re born naked and all the rest is drag!” The only thing Indianapolis doesn’t have, like us, is the ability to support one another in their differences and come together to make everyone’s dreams come true.
Isn’t there enough room in Indianapolis for every designer, photographer, blogger, stylist, columnist, hairstylist and model to be fulfilled? We think so…and we’re not going anywhere soon! So watch out! Because next time we might not be so nice and we might just have to call out a few fools!
Eyes Open, We’re Watching!