Minnesota fashion. For a while, these two words just didn't really appear in sentences together. But at some point in the last five years, the Twin Cities began to carve out its identity both in street style and via sprouting local designers (although somewhat independently of each other). The indie fashion scene, which is made up of a few dozen core organizers/designers and several hundred fashion appreciators, came together Saturday night at aptly named Sceneasota, an annual show thrown by Maritza Ramirez. It's a show the community anticipates for months, evident by its sold-out status by 9 p.m.
Held at "Loft 2" above OM Restaurant downtown, it was a beautiful choice of venue right in the heart of the city - spacious and palpable with cement floors and large columns running down its midsection. The show, which opened at 8 and finished around 11 (also boasting an afterparty) featured 8 designers, many who've frequently enjoyed runway time in the city over the last year. Among them were Jenny Carle (winner of last season's Envision challenge), Carmichael Claith, the locally lauded Raul Osario, hatter Ruby 3 and most memorably, knitwear phenom Kevin Kramp.
The latter designer has been an up-and-comer for a minute, and it was easy to see why: His knitwear for men (which seemed unisex in spots -- I lusted after some of those long sweaters!) was rooted in the future rather than the past, in contrast to much of what came before it. Sure, 50's fashion is hot right now thanks in part to the Mad Men epidemic, but there was something very demure about a good portion of what walked the runway Saturday night. Feminine, but in a passive way. And not very exciting.
This scene almost always shows work that has an air of arts-and-crafts to it, though it's hard to tell whether this is even intentional anymore. Aside from some future forward accessories (like this stellar neck cuff), all of the lines shown at Sceneasota kept in step with this vibe. Kramp's handmade knitwear had a bit of that crafty thing going on too, but his presentation, boldness and execution set him apart. When his segment finished, the audience erupted in praise -- they had been entertained and inspired. Their reaction was evidence, however small, that the Twin Cities is ready for more, for something different. We're ready to be challenged. We all know the route to the mall.
At the end of the day (or show, as it were), the Twin Cities is lucky to have such an active creative scene, and facets of it were reflected at Sceneasota in more than one artform. Designer segments were spaced out with artistic video shorts by Vision models connoisseur Elijah Chumm and striking local model Wesley Merrick (who graced the annual Summer In the Cities fashion-centric issue I produce for City Pages). The video pieces were beautifully done and a welcome addition. The downside is that it led to a chatty, unfocused audience at times and drew out the show. Fashion shows in Minneapolis are far, far too long and should be more impactful in a shorter time and occur with more frequency than every few months.
If Sceneasota did anything it showed that there's more than enough support locally for fashion and production-wise was a great example of what we can do. But this small scene (like most) is made up of interlinked friends and peers and its gatekeepers likely don't hear enough criticisms that encourage it to grow and flourish. So for what it's worth, my abbreviated advice going forward is this: Mind your models or they'll make you look amateur. Watch your time. Always be thoughtful and bold. And finally, avoid the trap of insularity. If we challenge ourselves it might not be long before we hear nationally respected mags and designers refer to "that Minneapolis look". We've done it in music, and with a bit more focus, we'll do it in fashion, too.