By Jake Rossen
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L.A. style is obnoxious and loud. New York is black and sophisticated. Geographically, Minneapolis is in the middle, but where do we fall in the fashion spectrum? The answer depends entirely on whom you ask. An uptown hipster will say our city is stocked with cool vintage hubs, while most suburbanites will probably gush about the Mall of America, and rural inhabitants will scoff at the question.
But the truth is that, in the Twin Cities at least, Minnesotans have begun sewing together a genuine fashion scene with loads of invigorating ideas. In only a few years, fashion in Minneapolis has gone from an overly artsy, DIY scene to a fully dressed community of glam boutiques, motivated designers, and fashion-forward events for people of all ages and tastes.
In 2004, a fashion-hungry husband and wife opened Cliché, a boutique with high hopes and a soft spot for local designs. Today Cliché is at the heart of Minneapolis fashion, promoting favorite local designers not only by filling its shelves with the right stuff, but by bringing together a style community in the land of 10,000 lakes and fashion mistakes. Owner Josh Sundberg says that ideas for the shop were quite open-ended in the beginning, but now the concepts are working beautifully. When asked if they buy items specifically to fit a certain "Minneapolis style," the answer was a bold "No."
"We think of Minneapolis in a sense, but we also think, fuck you," Sundberg says. "The people we want to sell to are independent and open-minded, people who pay attention to trends but don't necessarily follow them. Fashion is a revolving door, and we appeal to people who experiment with their style."
The other big push for Minneapolis fashion hit when Voltage: Fashion Amplified married the city's stellar music scene with the runway. Soon to follow were events like Retrorama at the Minnesota History Center, Fashion Fight Night, and the long list of activities during MNFashion Week, both spring and fall. Small, quality-driven boutiques like Karma, Ivy, Design Collective, and VS Social Standard, among many others, are attracting customers who want to shop outside of the mall walls.
So why is this fashion renaissance happening in our city now, recession and all? It's an aligning of several crucial elements: a batch of motivated designers and photographers, diverse and highly publicized local boutiques, fashion schools with updated curriculums (who won't advise their students to move to the coasts), and most important, the public's desire.
"The key to making local fashion sustainable isn't the fact that it's local. It has to be something people want," Sundberg says. "They just need to want it."
The mixing of this fresh community with public demand presents opportunities that simply weren't here five years ago, says Voltage creator Anna Lee. "It takes an entire spectrum of people coming together to make an industry," she says. "The stars have aligned now, yes, but it was very strategic. People have been working their tails off."
As a result, Minneapolis is developing a competitive edge on the national scene. With lots of local support, the future lies in convincing the rest of the country.
"A lot of local designers want to work in Minneapolis and design for Minneapolis, but we need to be able to market our people outside [the city]. It's not a big enough community to support everyone...yet," Sundberg says.
So in this issue, City Pages decided to give this budding group a little nudge. It's summer, after all, and what better time to show off your style? This year's Summer Guide becomes the Summer Style Issue, spotlighting five local designers and one stylist on the rise: Laura Fulk, Mackenzie Labine for Oiishimomo, Kimberly Jurek for Kjurek Couture, Amanda Christine from Amanda Christine Designs, Ivan Idland, and stylist Sheila Anderson. Each took our Project Runway-type challenge and within a week designed an outfit inspired by one section of our Summer Guide (Events, Outdoors, Film, etc.) and by the season in general. One look at the results and you'll be rest assured: We're in for one haute Minnesota summer.
Find out more about many of these designers and shop their products at www.clichempls.com
Catering by Azia, on the web at www.aziarestaurant.com
Modeled by Angie Hanson
Hair by Hairpolice
Makeup by Luiny Rivera Gelpi
Accessories by Fililí Available through Myspace.com/Oishiimomo
"My line is called Oishiimomo, which means 'delicious peach' in Japanese. I'm really inspired by Japan and their culture. I normally design much darker pieces, and I think you can see a bit of that in my peachy dress for Angie here: It's kind of cute and kind of naughty at the same time. I wanted to make the fabric breathable so I used a lighter canvas; it has a racer/open back so you won't die of heat exhaustion in typical Minnesota humidity. Angie could wear this outfit on a date, strolling around Loring Park, or maybe having a mimosa at a spot on Lake Minnetonka. There's a lot of good fashion here—you just have to look for it. I work in New York every few months, and I see a lot of fashion in Minneapolis that could hold a candle to that style. You see it Uptown, you see it downtown, you see it in the clubs, at afterparties, at pool parties—everywhere. And when summer comes, people just bring it—they're so sick of wearing 12 layers; they are finally free. They can wear things that are more colorful and fitting and jazzy and fresh. Come to the Varsity Theater on September 23 for my fashion show Couture Noir, featuring myself and eight other designers—it will give you some inspiration for next season."