by Emily Moody
The foundation of fashion is art. Both the design and retail aspects of the fashion industry must work together to offer an interesting product to the wearer. Without the talent of designers to produce garments, there would be no brick and mortar stores, and without clients to purchase said design accoutrement there would be no venue to showcase the fine wares. Dare I say that fashion would cease to exist without these artists?
When referring to fashion, I am not talking about just the clothes you wear. I’m talking about what a garment represents. A designer gives life to a garment just as a painter puts the finishing touches on a masterpiece. Fashion is born from inspiration by the world around them. He or she envisions a style, selecting the color palate and fabrics, and then constructs the piece, thus creating a perfect garment that will drape a body in just the right way. Although it is the designer’s responsibility to produce a garment that is not only sublime in beauty and impeccable in fit, it must possesses a singularity worthy of being hung on the rack of a shop. The retailer’s art is not only being able to forecast what the next trend will be, but to creatively design shop layouts, and curate a space where various designers’ visions mesh well. After merchandising is complete, seasons and ideas change and inventory and installations within the store must be redone.
I look at my store as not just a shop that sells clothing, but an art space that is constantly evolving and changing. What makes independent boutiques in Jacksonville different is the fact that the owners take the time to add the extra details to their shops, creating spaces with a personality that mimics it’s owner.
The consumer’s desire to be different helps expose one’s personality through the form of dress. Because of this trend, the influx of wearable art has seen an increase over the past few years. There is a backlash forming against purchasing clothing from chains that will give you the look of every other suburbia Jane Doe.
Please don’t confuse an interest in fashion with being materialistic, nor am I suggesting that you must dress head to toe in couture. Fashion can be bought, but style one must possess. Part of the art of fashion is interpreting runway trends in your own way. The mass production of dresses available at Forever 21 or the like aren’t nearly as special as a one-off frock you find from a smaller, independent label. While you might be able to buy five more dresses at Forever 21 than if you purchased from a smaller label, it’s quality, not quantity.
Any good indie shopper surely knows about Etsy! Etsy.com started in 2005 and has taken off as a resource for makers of things to parade their wares and as a resource for customers to purchase clothing and accessories from independent companies. Artists and designers from all over the world can easily open a shop on this site to exhibit ones jewelry, ironic kids tees or other interesting items.
Though Etsy is an incredible resource full of talent, Jacksonvillians are really starting to take interest in supporting local, thus nurturing our budding fashion community too. This city is full of residents shaping the future of fashion. Nymphette is a homegrown collection that is helping pioneer the local design scene. This line marries reconstructed pieces with tulle, flirty vintage florals, retro stripes and perfectly sculpted vintage buttons. Not only is it locally designed by Avery Vaughn, but she takes the time to construct each piece by hand. She has an eye for how to mix patterns and add a seam in just the right spot to complete a look. Her bestselling styles include frilly tube tops and versatile pencil skirts. I am not easily impressed, but at only 19 years old and armed with no professional training, (only sewing lessons from her grandmother since her tween years) she bewilders me with her styles. She plans to head to fashion school next year and once graduating will be armed with the professional sewing skills needed to truly produce a couture collection. One can only hope that she will keep her company in Jacksonville and help to inspire the fashion community in North Florida and beyond.
A company that I personally would love to see put roots back in Jacksonville is Love Brigade. EU has highlighted the talents of this line before, but the beautifully executed Spring 2010 collection, appropriately titled ‘Going Home,’ is proof that Jacksonvillians have great style! Currently based out of Brooklyn, Alyssa Key has a sophisticated and fashion forward, yet wearable line. Key, a Jacksonville native, experiments with a blend of fabrics and creatively structured styles. Although it may look somewhat basic on the hanger, Love Brigade’s pieces flatter the form and the soft details, like mesh strips that are sewn over the bodice or coordinating fabric inlays both add little details to make it perfectly finished. Check out the full lookbook, shot in Jacksonville with local models, online at www.lovebrigade.com.
No fashion statement is complete without some accessories to go with it. Enter CircaSixtyThree. This company’s huge stock of un-circulated vintage lucite beads and bangles are simply stunning. Danielle Insetta creates bright, colorful necklaces that look practically edible. After acquiring the deadstock of 60s and 70s lucite bangles, beads and bits from Best Plastics in Rhode Island, Insetta brought the inventory back to Jacksonville. CircaSixtyThree’s headquarters in San Marco serves as the design studio and distribution center, where they ship to stores in New York, Japan and London, to name a few. You can visit them online at www.circasixtythree.com.
Looking to add a little style into your bland wardrobe? Buy unique pieces that will still be hanging in your closet in ten years. During bad economic times overhaul your closet a little at a time, not overnight. Necessity is, after-all, the mother of invention. It forces one to be more creative in dress. Buy a couple of key pieces, then go to the thrift store and find some fun belts and scarves to update last year’s jersey dress. Don’t be scared to shorten the hem of an outdated skirt or add a cluster of vintage brooches to an Old Navy blazer. Next time you are getting dressed, think of yourself as a walking canvas. Take that extra step to add your own style, you’ll be happy you did.