Nobody Puts Indy Fashion In a Corner

Image by Greg Ballos

It’s an iconic moment in movie history. Johnny Castle storms into the camp’s closing concert to find Frances “Baby” Houseman sitting in the corner with her family. The determined rebel confronts the family and utters the phrase that will live in movie history, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” You know the movie.

Indy’s fashion scene often gets put in the corner with, “There is no fashion in Indianapolis.” I sometimes forget how the outside world views us, even as so many here are working really hard to grow the industry in Indianapolis. Epic momentum over the last two years! Might we be looking at the local fashion community through rose tinted glasses?

I recently received an awkwardly worded email that made me ponder what is happening in Indy. The email was sent from a gentleman named Nick, who works for an online real estate brokerage based in San Mateo, CA. The email actually gave good and bad news. The good news was that he found my men’s fashion blog, Social Club 19, by searching Indianapolis and News. The bad news was he wanted to make sure I saw their blog post about how Indianapolis is one of the worst dressed cities in the country. I normally don’t bother with such articles, but I decided to humor him. (I am pretty sure the post was sent to me in hopes to drive traffic, so if you are interested I am posting a link to the article only once at the end of this post.)

The post was actually titled, “Where Fashion Dies: The 10 Worst Dressed Cities.” The tag line was even better with, “We’ve found the cities fashion forgot and that you should avoid if you want to dress your very best.” You might be asking, “Well surely the author of the article visited our cultural districts or even Indy’s unique boutique and shopping options to make his/her determination.” Nope. Indy made the top 10 list based upon a horrible formula to make the prediction of worst-dressed residents. It was based upon the number of high-end clothing, jewelry, and shoe stores per capita. I am pretty sure we all agree that it is a horrible formula to determine where “fashion goes to die.”

It’s true that as as city, we’re still trying to figure out our style. We’re not terribly edgy, that’s a fact, but there’s nothing wrong with being understated. And what we’re perfecting is mixing of trendy with functionality that’s suited to our climate. Slowly, but surely, our style is emerging. I guess I can see how someone from outside the city may not be able to see the progression, but based on my getting involved in Indy’s fashion community in 2007, a lot of really great things have happened in the last 7 years, and will continue happening. That I promise!

With that: Don’t let outsiders try and push Indy’s fashion community in the corner.

3 reasons to be proud of the emerging fashion industry in Indy.

1.  Beyond just blogs and events

Fashion professionals are getting recognized beyond just a hobby or throwing events at bars. 2013 saw some great partnerships form between the local fashion community, the tech startup scene and design community at large. Exact Target has tapped Pattern Marketing Director Maria Dickman to contribute fashion and tech related content as part of their digital content. Raidious has also include fashion related content on their blog. There has also been an increase of coverage in the Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis Monthly of fashion related content. It is hard to talk about the growing industry without including Indy’s own international fashion magazine. Pattern magazine is a platform to highlight industry leaders to a national and international audience. The magazine has been used on numerous occasions to highlight the creative community in Indianapolis, by Visit Indy.

2. Boutiques on the move

It has been exciting recently to watch the success and growth of independent boutiques. These shops tend to cater specifically to women like 14 Districts in Carmel or Niche and Lucky B in Broadripple. There are so many more to discover! It has been nice to see stores like ToolBox Indy and the recently opened James Dant pop up for men.  These stores are not just offering clothing options, but active in bringing attention to Indy. For example, ToolBox Indy will be bringing underwear designer Andrew Christian later this Summer for a trunk show.

3. Indy is getting noticed

Those responsible for marketing the city as a whole are focusing more on lifestyle than just sports. The New York Times has been giving Indy much love lately, even including Indy on their list of 52 Places to Go in 2014 as well as publishing this very recent piece about our Cultural Trail. In the Visit Indy 2014 annual report, it was emphasized that tourism is an economic engine. This is a huge opportunity for the fashion community. More than 26 million people visit Indy from around the globe. People spend money when in Indy. Visit Indy reported that visitors generate $4.4 billion in the economic impact.

All of that to say that Indy is far cooler than most people give it credit for and most definitely does not belong on any list that has “worst-dressd” in its title.  Maybe 20 years ago, but not any more!

(Want to see the article that inspired this post? Visit the Movoto blog post here.)

Image courtesy of Greg Ballos.

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2 Comments

  • Great post, Jeremiah!
    I’d also offer up Sky Blue Window’s increased coverage of fashion in your round-up of publications and organizations highlighting Indianapolis style. Like many aspects of our cultural scene, Indianapolis may not be the most spendy spot, but there’s nothing wrong with combining affordability and art. In fact, that’s one of the things I love about covering the Circle City’s performance, music, visual art and design scene – it’s accessible, it’s heartfelt and it leans toward the timeless.
    More of our coverage, in case you want to check it out: http://www.skybluewindow.org/indianapolis/fashion/Category?oid=2124591

    • Thank you Kirsten. You are very much correct, there are other publications and outlets around Indy that have started to take notice and increase coverage of fashion related content. People sharing their perspectives on the industry is always interesting to read. Collectively we can promote the diverse local fashion culture.

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