When you think about what Detroit has made over its more than 300-year history, a few industries come immediately to mind. In the past, it was iron stoves, cigars and cars. These days, it is still cars but it also is fashion.
Surprised at that last one? If you’ve ever worn a “Made in Detroit” t-shirt or sported a Pure Detroit beanie, then you’ve worn some Detroit fashion. But the city’s fashion chops are much deeper and wider than novelty shirts and hats. There are huge fashion brands and up-and-coming names that are calling Detroit home, boosting its fashion credibility across the world.
Detroiters both love to look good and have the discretionary income (thanks again, auto industry) to dress well. There are tons of retail stores from entry-level duds to high-end brands that are known internationally. Moreover, there is a devotion to creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation that runs through the very veins of this region that has been there for centuries.
There also has been a recent renaissance of interest and investment in making things – especially fashion – within the United States and Michigan. There are sewing programs such as Detroit Sewn. There are fashion events such as FashionSpeak thanks to Detroit Sewn’s Karen “Kay” Buscemi and the team at the Detroit Garment Group. There’s also the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center in Detroit that is “fashioning the future” for sewing and great design.
Then you add longtime brands such as Down with Detroit, Detroit Vs. Everybody, Detroit is the New Black, Shinola and Detroit Denim, and you can see how Detroit has grown in terms of its recognition for creating beautiful clothing that also is fashion forward.
Last year, Tracy Reese got tons of ink when she told the world that she had proudly opened a studio in Detroit and would expand it with more design and production. This venerable New York fashion player is from Detroit, and she created a buzz for the Motor City when she decided to focus on bringing her well-known looks and flower-forward thinking to Detroit.
Reese, who has been a part of FashionSpeak, is known as an American designer whose design philosophy is “rooted in a commitment to bringing out the beauty in women of all shapes, sizes and colors,” according to her website. Her fashion brand is named after herself, which she launched in 1998 in the Big Apple.
She came to Detroit to focus on her new passions: design, Detroit fashion and sustainability. That is the reason behind her latest collection, Hope for Flowers.
“The long-term plan, which I’m starting to unfurl, is to work with local artisans here in Detroit, and to make one-of-a-kind upcycled pieces too,” Reese recently told Vogue magazine. “It’s been good to push myself to integrate into the community here, and discover more creative people here to collaborate with, and just really delve more into the town and become a part of its workings.”
Here are some other up-and-coming fashion brands bringing their style and perspective to the fashion world by way of Detroit.
Not Sorry Goods is a sustainable lifestyle retailer that features eco-friendly apparel, upcycled + reworked vintage, lifestyle accessories as well as home and gift ideas, Its fashion-forward t-shirts, crews and crops feature its signature “Not Sorry” tagline and related statements, such as “Detroit Not Sorry,” Black Not Sorry” and “Latinx Not Sorry.”
This Detroit-based clothing company, streetwear brand, custom screen-printing and embroidery business does it all under one roof. It specializes in wearables, merchandise, accessories and graphic design. It also has started making masks to help people up their look while staying safe during the coronavirus.
Deviate is a Detroit-based fashion label that describes itself as “designing womenswear, menswear, and accessory collections situated at the intersection of fashion and art.” Its clothing, some unisex, has a decidedly tough Detroit look that is both stylish and relatable to all who live here and get through the seasons with some sort of fashionable care.
Talk about a comfort-forward brand that hit the market at the right time and in the right place. Breathe in Detroit calls itself an Earth-friendly, mindful and fun apparel that gives back. Its “honest apparel” is inspired by yoga, music and the city, making it great to wear to an exercise class as well as to brunch.