A scorching vogue rivalry is underway hundreds of miles from the runways of Milan and Paris. It has nothing to do with couture homes or pink carpets. It doesn't contain a luxurious model poaching the designer du jour from a competitor. The conflict arises from current claims made by boosters for Nashville and Columbus. Every metropolis, it appears, considers itself the style capital of the USA, with the very notable exceptions of New York and Los Angeles. Every metropolis, in different phrases, is vying for third place. “Columbus is ranked the No. three largest metro for vogue designers and is quickly turning into often called the area to stay, work and play every little thing vogue,” goes a line from an electronic mail despatched by the publicity agency DCI on behalf of Ohio’s most populous metropolis.
The same electronic mail from a Nashville publicist that not too long ago popped up in my inbox has it that the nation music capital, in Center Tennessee, “now boasts the biggest per capita focus of vogue firms outdoors of Los Angeles and New York Metropolis.”
After puzzling over the dueling claims, I got down to decide which metropolis is worthy of vogue bronze. I shortly discovered throughout my travels that each locations have a lot going for them. As a part of my investigation, I dined at hip eating places, pawed via the racks at luxurious boutiques and met with vogue powers and prospects in each cities.
The New York designer Isabel Toledo and her husband, the artist Ruben Toledo, make common journeys to Columbus, the place an exhibition on the Columbus Museum of Artwork not too long ago celebrated their work. “There’s big quick-vogue mass-ness and a completely underneath-the-radar underground scene right here,” Mr. Toledo stated. “It’s a nice combine.”
Over dinner on the Margot Cafe & Bar in Nashville, within the trendy firm of Van Tucker, the chief govt of the Nashville Fashion Alliance, and Libby Callaway, a vogue reporter turned Nashville publicist, I realized that Minnie Pearl, the hillbilly granny on “Hee Haw,” was, in actual life, a stylish Diana Vreeland of the South.
However it wasn’t all gossipy expense-account dinners. I had work to do. My intention was to guage Columbus and Nashville in varied classes and, every time attainable, award a winner for every. The ultimate tally would settle the matter. There could be just one third-place finisher, in spite of everything.
For the proof and my ruling, please learn on.
Nashville “My tackle Nashville vogue is there’s pre-Imogene and Willie and publish Imogene and Willie,” stated Ms. Calloway, who as soon as lined the trade for The New York Publish. “They modified the dialog right here.” Certainly, fashion obsessives flipped for the heritage denim label based in 2009 by Matt and Carrie Eddmenson. So did Gwyneth Paltrow, who grew to become a match mannequin. The flagship retailer occupies a transformed auto restore store within the 12 South district, the place I noticed millennials gingerly dealing with pairs of $200 straight-leg, cardboard-stiff selvedge-denim denims. However nowadays the shop is usually symbolic. In 2015, the Eddmensons moved to Los Angeles, to be nearer to their producers. What does it say about a native trade when probably the most profitable model needed to go away to develop?
Columbus After the Cleveland Cavaliers gained the N.B.A. finals final yr, LeBron James stepped off the basketball staff’s airplane sporting an Ultimate Warrior T-shirt. Ryan Vesler was as ecstatic that day because the Cavs’ star ahead. His retro-impressed T-shirt line, Homage, is the corporate behind that shirt. The model began 10 years in the past within the basement of Mr. Vesler’s mother and father’ home in close by Bexley. It now has 50 workers in its principal workplace in Columbus, six shops in Ohio and Michigan (with a seventh deliberate for Pittsburgh) and a licensing cope with the N.B.A. Mr. Vesler, who not too long ago secured a $10 million investment from Categorical, a native model, known as Columbus a “Midwest Mecca,” including, “I really like watching the enterprise develop and providing jobs to individuals from right here.”
Nashville Nicole Kidman, one in every of quite a few native celebrities, could need to do her severe buying elsewhere. For all of its leisure-trade wealth, there isn't a luxurious division retailer throughout the metropolis restrict. However a bustling unbiased retail scene has sprung as much as fill the void, together with H. Audrey, Peter Nappi and Billy Reid. However for my cash, the town’s saving grace is its three areas of United Apparel Liquidators, the one-in-the-South off-value retailer that sells Chanel, Prada and different luxurious items at ridiculous markdowns.
Columbus You'll have heard that buying malls are going extinct in a retail apocalypse. However that wasn’t the sensation I skilled at Polaris Fashion Place, the place two ranges of shops hummed with consumerist pleasure as if it were 1989. Maybe that’s why manufacturers deal with Columbus as Test Market, U.S.A., making an attempt out merchandise there earlier than rolling them out nationwide. After my mall go to, I ended by Rowe Boutique, an unbiased store within the fashionable Brief North neighborhood. The proprietor, Maren Roth, labored within the vogue trenches on each coasts earlier than returning to her Ohio roots in 2007, “to deliver a little of New York and L.A. to Columbus,” she stated. Subsequent month, Ms. Roth and her fiancé, Marc Desrosiers, plan to open KILN, a males’s retailer, close by.
Nashville Does working at Singer Stitching Firm rely as a vogue job? What about in a distribution facility for Below Armour? With few giant manufacturers having their headquarters right here, vogue jobs are onerous to seek out. However one morning I toured a renovated cabinetmaking manufacturing facility the place Elizabeth Pape designs and manufactures her girls’s fundamentals line, Elizabeth Suzann. It was a stunning office: open, tranquil, with 21 workers (all underneath 30), slicing and stitching. The necessity right here isn’t for designers or publicists however industrial sewers. Throughout city, in East Nashville, David Perry, a transplant from Los Angeles who's an proprietor of the clothes boutique Two Son, has huge plans. He envisions a manufacturing facility, a dye home, a material provider. “We’ve obtained a number of nice eating places, a number of nice bars,” Mr. Perry stated. “However the vogue scene, it’s in its infancy.”
Columbus For the job seeker, this metropolis resembles a vogue model of “Subject of Goals.” On the Abercrombie & Fitch headquarters in close by New Albany, Ohio, fashionable shedlike buildings unfold throughout 500 meadowed acres, with trendy younger workers zooming on razor scooters towards the mess corridor. “There’s a youthful, campus feeling right here,” stated Lisa Lowman, a senior vice chairman of Hollister Design, one of many 2,500 or so workers who work there. Ms. Lowman moved two years in the past from Los Angeles, the place she labored for Fortunate Model Denims. Her co-employees are from London, Australia, New York and, sure, Columbus. L Manufacturers (Victoria’s Secret, Bathtub & Physique Works, Henri Bendel) additionally has its personal campus and a work power of greater than 7,000 within the Columbus space.
Nashville Savannah Yarborough studied design at Central Saint Martins in London and labored as head males’s put on designer for Billy Reid earlier than organising store right here. She hand-stitches leather-based jackets for Wall Road bankers and musicians who can afford to pay $5,000 and up. Her Atelier Savas studio can be unimaginable in New York, she stated: “I’d be on the eighth ground of some constructing within the garment district with no electrical energy.” The purse designer Ceri Hoover began with no attire background, however, she stated, Nashville residents are “pleasant, supportive, collaborative.” Ms. Hoover gained a local grant to review leather-based manufacturing in Italy.
Columbus When she lived in New York, Celeste Malvar-Stewart designed out of her cramped condominium. In Columbus, she was in a position to purchase a 19th-century constructing in German Village. She creates eco-acutely aware wool attire, pillows and blankets, utilizing dyes she makes herself and wool so native she is aware of every sheep’s title. Ms. Malvar-Stewart is a part of an unbiased scene that features Larissa Boiwka of Wilde Hunt Corsetry and Horacio Nieto. Like many who work for the mass manufacturers, Mr. Nieto, a designer for A & F, moonlights on the aspect. Proper now, “the small manufacturers are dwarfed by the massive manufacturers,” Ms. Malvar-Stewart stated. However in low-value Columbus, she added, “I really feel like I’m extra of an artist than I’ve ever been in my life.”
Winner: They're each winners.
Nashville Each severe vogue city wants hip locations to remain, and in recent times, boutique inns right here have develop into, effectively, a boutique trade. The primary to realize acclaim was the 404 Hotel & Kitchen, with 5 visitor rooms and an adjoining restaurant inside a reclaimed delivery container. Then there's the Germantown Inn, with its six suites in a historic 1870s home; City Cowboy, a department of the mattress-and-breakfast that began in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and within the Gulch neighborhood, not removed from Jack White’s Third Man Data, is the newly opened Thompson Nashville, which has 224 rooms and three eating places, together with a rooftop cafe that doubles as an Instagram backdrop.
ColumbusLe Meridien Columbus, the Joseph hotel opened not way back within the Brief North district. And Columbus residents speak up their first boutique resort the way in which new mother and father gush over their firstborn. “You’ve obtained to see the Joseph.” “When are you gonna see the Joseph?” O.Ok., O.Ok., we noticed the Joseph. We stayed there, in truth. There may be a bar within the foyer with Illy espresso and an adjoining restaurant, the Guild Home, that serves a superb snapper. However Jack White isn’t prone to stroll via that door any time quickly.
Nashville What’s a vogue metropolis with out a vogue week? Nashville Fashion Week has been occurring for seven years, and, on the exhibiting in April, the occasion featured a mixture of locals, like the ladies’s put on designer Cavanagh Baker and the jewellery maker Judith Bright, and nationwide manufacturers, like Winery Vines and Madewell.
ColumbusFashion Week Columbus is scheduled for this October. It seems to have one runway present, a casting name for fashions and a few mixers. However the metropolis additionally holds Alternative Fashion Week in July, which in previous years has included a drag-queen-and-wine pairing. That’s the spirit that once made fashion shows fun. One of many organizers is Kelli Martin, a former “Challenge Runway” contestant who got here again to her hometown and began making “fairly-slash-ugly” punk rock garments underneath the title Anti.Label. She jogged my memory of Iona from “Pretty in Pink.” Ms. Martin, who designs in a downtown workplace constructing behind a frosted-glass door, retains Columbus bizarre.
The Naked Requirements
Nashville An oft-repeated statistic round right here is that 100 people move to Nashville on daily basis, and the style tribe could have no bother discovering what it must maintain itself. Organic juice bar? Examine. Artisanal coffeehouse? Examine. Hot yoga studio? Examine. Nightclub with D.J.s playing EDM? Examine. The price of residing remains to be low sufficient to make these items inexpensive. However with rents and site visitors quickly growing, will it final? David Perry, the store proprietor who left California in his rearview, hopes so. “I inform individuals, don’t deliver L.A. and New York right here,” he stated. “Depart it again in L.A. and New York.’”
Columbus Throughout my keep, I hit up Pistacia Vera in German Village 4 occasions. It was as a lot a testomony to the superb espresso and croissants as to the restricted choices in a city that's not but a go-to position for chilly-pressed juices or eating places serving components grown on the roof. The place Columbus excels, although, is excessive-tradition: an opera firm that features vocalists from Juilliard, an arts center at Ohio State College and a museum that has lengthy handled vogue as artwork.
Native Fashion Heroes
Nashville When vogue individuals speak concerning the man in black, they imply Karl Lagerfeld. To Nashville individuals, that sobriquet conjures Johnny Money, whose type was heavy on substance. “I put on the black for the poor and the crushed down,” he sang in “Man in Black.” The town has additionally had its share of transgressive type icons. Consider Dolly Parton in her wigs and rouge, an inspiration to tug queens and Vogue editors alike. Or Waylon Jennings, who modeled the “outlaw” look — greasy lengthy hair, tough beard, black leather-based vest — years earlier than vogue gamers like Oliver Zahm made sleaze cool. If at the moment’s nation stars have opted for a extra toned-down look, no less than the designer Manuel nonetheless has his store within the coronary heart of city. The tailor often called the “Rhinestone Rembrandt,” who made the well-known gold lamé swimsuit for Elvis Presley, has additionally duded up Gram Parsons, Keith Richards, Dwight Yoakam and Neil Younger.
ColumbusCharlotte Curtis, the New York Times vogue and society editor who wrote “The Rich and Other Atrocities,” was a Columbus native. The American designer recognized for his work within the couture custom, Charles Kleibacker, the “Master of the Bias,” taught vogue design at Ohio State and curated exhibits on the Columbus Museum of Artwork. And Leslie Wexner, the billionaire founding father of the Restricted (now L Manufacturers), “single-handedly changed how America shops,” in accordance with Forbes. However possibly the best Columbus vogue icons are fictional — Veronica Sawyer and Jason Dean, the excessive-college college students performed by Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in “Heathers.” The 1989 movie, set at a fictional suburban Ohio college, is a cult favourite (maybe particularly among the many vogue set) for its celebration of ’80s appears to be like and its imply-lady quotability.
I loved my keep in every metropolis a lot that it's no straightforward activity for me to call a winner. However the numbers don’t lie: Nashville edged out Columbus, four to three, with a tie within the Indie Expertise class.
Maybe Columbus is Milan to Nashville’s Paris. Whereas the extra workaday Ohio metropolis has a flourishing attire trade, Nashville has extra of what a vogue metropolis wants, for good or in poor health: glamour.