When someone says the word, “Fashion,” what cities come to mind? New York, Rome, Paris, London, Milan to name a few… but Columbus, Ohio? Not hardly. And for good reason. Despite a strong presence of major brands settled right here in the midwest, Abercrombie, The Limited, Pink, Victoria Secret, DSW, and Express just to name a few, the local Fashion scene has struggled to have any level of real relevance besides grass root efforts from groups trying to shift the norm. The economy, brand’s red velvet rope, and the paperwork of paperwork do not make this effort any easier. The bar indeed is high, but recently those determined fashion few have grown into stylishly stubborn hundreds, and even thousands, with more and more Fashion Shows popping up throughout the city of Columbus, featuring local designers and their respective collections. There truly is something to be said for the determination and development of an ever changing, growing city culture, and a passion for fashion seems to be at the forefront of Columbus’s most recent social developments.
Fashion shows in their purest form are not just a gimmick, entertainment, or party base. They are the bread-and-butter evaluative moment of a major part of our economy’s financial and artistic health. Not everyone is “into” fashion, and that’s just fine, but no one should deny its importance. That runway represents a significant landing point of the newest and freshest ideas, opinions, and thought, meant to stimulate, inspire, and cultivate culture, class, and an enormous aspect of art. Miranda Priestly, the fictional character from the film “The Devil Wears Prada,” based on the book by Lauren Weisberger, puts it so correctly, albeit theatrically and cold, when an assistant snuffs at the idea of fashionable details being worthy of any significant relevance—
Consider the “big picture” perspective. Remember that Fashion contributes to nearly every realm of our culture, as it has for all civilizations past— Sports, Politics, Music, Advertising— the list goes on and on. Additionally, as fashion plays a major role in defining social class, I ask my readers to question if that’s all bad? Are people groups generally lowered with such standards, or are they heightened? Is fashion’s involvement in articulating social class levels mutually exclusive to defining personal character or individual experience? Ultimately, fashion is a form of art and therefor a means of communication, opening a multi-faceted dialect that words may struggle to stimulate. This is what fashion shows and their responsible parties are, in part, meant to bring together as an exciting outlet, showcasing designers’ talent as both dynamic metaphor and personal contribution to a culture. When a runway show is done correctly and well, every associated party benefits.
That a city like Columbus is developing an ever growing fashion presence excites me beyond words. The movement is finally expanding beyond the two-mile stretch of the Short North into our suburbs and neighborhoods, where the next generation of designers is being reached. With passionate organizations including but not limited to CMH Fashion Week and Highball Halloween, and the efforts of charity events like The Golden Age and Models, Martinis, and Movie on the Mile, local designers and therefore boutiques, bloggers, and buyers continue to find substance and opportunity to expand and profit. Columbus must consistently call forward talented designers throughout the Midwest, provide opportunities to showcase collections, and cultivate support with local sponsors and even major brands. Fashion is not and should never be only about making money but making statements that positively change, inspire, and free people.
Anyone can follow popular fashion guidelines, but not every city has an individual sense of style. It’s time to burn those stereotypically midwest khakis and start wearing what’s true to our inward self on the outside self. Take advantage of this united fashion front movement! Volunteer, sponsor, and support those worthy organizations working to make our state capital a hub of style and diversity that cannot be ignored.