I wanted to close out 2011 with a round table chat with some of the finest local fashion industry professionals. I love hearing different perspectives from within the local fashion culture. I invited a Photographer, Writer, Curator, Creative Director, and a Boutique Owner to my round table. I appreciate the participation from those invited to the round table. I hope that the different perspectives affirm that fact that there is a growing culture of not just fashion lovers but true fashion professionals here in Indianapolis. I wanted to find out their thoughts about the local fashion industry from the past year, and their thoughts on the trends for 2012. Short bios and links for invited contributors are listed after our chat.
What has been the project that you were most proud of working on in 2011?
OSHEROV: Professionally, I was thrilled to have the opportunity of shooting a national product campaign with Kenra. Personally, I’ve worked on several projects in 2011 that were a lot of fun and creatively fulfilling. One of those which I particularly enjoyed is called Motel Catalina. My team and I shot it for Pattern Indy.
BAILEY: I became a full-time freelancer in February of 2011 and started covering the style section for Indianapolis Monthly in October. It’s great to see all the hard work you put into something, that ends up in a beautiful glossy pages of a magazine!
SLINKARD: Curating an exhibition at the University of Northern Iowa on the wearable art group, Friends of the Rag, in conjunction with a lecture presented at the Costume Society of America’s Midwest region symposium and annual meeting.
JAIMES: The house of 5th AW 12/13 collection. I started working on it this year and so far I’m pleased with the evolution of the brand. It is still not a 30 piece collection, but I feel that the smaller amount of pieces we have are a true expression of our lifestyle.
ELYSE: I have never been happier than when I started my shop [The Snappy Dresser]. It’s something I never thought I’d do, and it has been an amazing experience.
This past year how has your perspective of Indianapolis’ fashion culture been affected?
OSHEROV: Being involved with Pattern, you might say, I’ve had the front seat view in a lot of ways. There have been ups and downs and certainly, there’s a fair bit of two steps forward, one step back scenarios, but overall, I am encouraged by what I’ve been observing. There is definitely a growing interest in fashion and style.
BAILEY: Earlier this year, before I was freelancing for them, Indianapolis Monthly shot a photo to accompany a brief story about local fashion/style writers. It was me, Jenny Elig (Who previously covered fashion for the Indianapolis Star) and Gabrielle Poshadlo (who covered fashion/business for the IBJ and is behind the blog Haute in the Heartland). Both women have since left their positions, and neither of the respective publications have filled their spots. The local main-stream media is less interested in covering fashion than ever and this something the fashion culture needs to recognize.
SLINKARD: The culture is no longer crawling, but has legs – with each step, I see a community that is proactive and influential.
JAIMES: It started off a bit bleak, but I can honestly say that I feel there has been a new energy that is positive and respectful. I’m seeing new players enter the market every day with thoughtful strategies. I feel that Indy’s first step was the creation side of fashion and I’m excited to see so many designers and businesses moving toward the next step, the business of fashion. We’re still an emerging market and have a long way to go, but I’m very hopeful with what I’ve seen the past few months.
ELYSE: This past year has been quite the year. All sorts of industry types have come out of the woodwork and began networking. It’s great, but has been a little messy, now at the end of this year it’s been taking more shape – I have to say I’m excited about the progress and potential.
What lesson do you hope the fashion community takes with them into 2012?
OSHEROV: We have many, many lessons to learn in Indy! First, I really, REALLY hope that people will continue supporting the idea of having a strong fashion community. There will be time to be competitive and perhaps, territorial. NOW, is NOT that time. With that thought in mind, I want to challenge the independent boutique owners to really step up their game and get involved. Second, it would be amazing if local consumers of fashion, all those fashion conscious guys and gals, develop a voice and start demanding better selection in stores, better quality from local designers and enter the conversation of how they can be served better as a consumer. And last, but not least, and more long-term hope is that in the next 24-36 months the industry becomes more professional. Nothing wrong with DIY and having a small operation, it’s just that your marketing and your attitude can’t be DIY. If you are in the business of “image” and your website looks like it was created in 2001 and the images on your website look like they’ve been taken by a relative with a point and shoot, I’m sorry, but you will not be taken seriously.
BAILEY: I think a lot of people thought it was as easy as saying, “I work in fashion” and so it was…which we know is not the case at all. It’s a cut-throat industry wherever you are in the world and Indianapolis is no different. You have to work hard and strive to create original and quality work. If you’re not willing to do that, you’re in the wrong field.
SLINKARD: How to dispense and take constructive criticism, without it, there is only mediocrity.
JAIMES: That just like in any market, competition is good because it attracts more consumers. Consumers like choices. You’ve probably seen a Burger King or similar establishment on a lonely intersection and statistically it will flounder by itself, but slap a McDonalds, Wendy’s or Kroger on that lonely intersection next to it and they’ll boom. The consumer market loves well planned businesses, with proper resources and competition.
ELYSE: That working in fashion isn’t just art, it’s a business, and industry.
What is the fashion event that you hope happens in Indianapolis next year?
OSHEROV: If Fashion’s Night Out happens again in 2012, I really hope that it’s a huge hit locally. Indianapolis has been really slow on the uptake, but I believe that 2012 could change all that. It’s such a great idea and would be so good for local fashion retailers, large and small.
BAILEY: Actually, there’s a fashion –related event that I’m working on…although unfortunately I can’t share details yet! I would, however, like to see Indianapolis do Fashion’s Night Out big (and properly) this year.
SLINKARD: City wide clothing swap & IMA bi-annual fashion show
JAIMES:More fashion shows targeting regional and national media and buyers would be a wonderful addition to already existing fashion focused events. Fashion shows are a marketing tool and I would love to see more scheduled on track with the larger fashion community and with attendees who can help us continue to grow our local brands. As a local fashion community the goal of pushing the fashion industry timeline forward needs to be in the forefront or we’ll end up nowhere fast, as far as anyone industry outside of Indy is concerned.
ELYSE: I hope that a fashion week that is closer to industry standard begins to take shape, whether it’s changes by MWFW – or a new one is began – it needs to change so that we can be taken seriously.
How do you plan on participating in the evolution of the Indianapolis fashion culture in 2012?
OSHEROV: I’m already committed for 2012 to be part of the team helping organize the monthly pattern meet-ups and of course I will continue to shoot fashion stores for the Pattern website.
BAILEY: I’m going to continue to cover local fashion as much as possible in the media realm and continue to encourage that the bar be raised constantly. I think applauding mediocrity does everyone a disservice.
SLINKARD: Remain active, vocal, and supportive
JAIMES: Foremost I’m working on growing House of 5th to become a stronger Indy based national brand. I feel that Indy’s evolution will come from our collective success stories and supporting each other along the way. I love the Pattern meetings because it is helping to create a dialogue and there is no better way to evolve as an industry than to learn from the mistakes and success stories of each other.
ELYSE: Having a new store, I hope to become more involved again with the local scene. Joining a wonderful host of other independent boutique owners, I hope to help bring awareness to the independent shops all over the city.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone who would say: “There is no fashion in Indianapolis”?
OSHEROV: Well, I would certainly set them straight. Our industry is not highly sophisticated and yes, we do have more of a DIY vibe than anything else at the moment, but to say that we have no fashion? Well, that’s a bit pessimistic, isn’t it? It takes time for these things to grow and develop and it takes the support of both the community and the city officials to make that happen. The sooner folks in Indy and surrounding counties get on board with the idea of a local fashion industry instead of scoffing, the quicker will the industry evolve.
BAILEY: There’s fashion everywhere!
SLINKARD: You are not paying attention.
JAIMES: Indy is an emerging market and fashion is here, but it is just taking baby steps right now. You may have to look a little harder but our fashion offerings are growing each day. To rip a good runway you have to have fallen a few times so you know what to look out for on the runway. I recently heard Nikki Sutton at an IMA sponsored round table say she wished more people would take chances in Indy. It immediately stuck in my head and I’ve paid more attention to the people taking chances lately and have a growing respect for their trail blazing efforts in Indy.
ELYSE: I would tell them to stop going to the mall and Wal-mart – if they started shopping locally they might find that the one with no individual style is themselves. Indy has style in it, just not everyone in Indy has style.
Biography and links to my round table contributors:
PETRA SLINKARD: Petra Slinkard is a Curatorial Associate of Textile and Fashion Arts/European Painting and Sculpture to 1945, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.