Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No, Cincinnati doesn't suck | The Fashion Dungjen

I do this thing where I listen to other people’s conversations when I am near them. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a problem — I’ve learned some interesting things about campus happenings and it’s actually led to a story or two on the news page.

Sure, there are times I hear things I’d rather forget — like the guy with a three-week old rash and the very confused and concerned first-year student, “How many guys do I have to sleep with before I’m considered a slut?”

(Can someone answer that question? Seriously.)

And sometimes I hear things that get me thinking and fired up. Last week I overheard two women in Tangeman University Center talking about Cincinnati’s lacking fashion scene. I didn’t catch the entire conversation, but it seemed their overall consensus and generalization was that they can’t wait to get the heck out of Cincinnati and b-line it to New York. In their eyes, Cincinnati’s fashion scene is dead and they’re sick of being surrounded by people who don’t dress well.

I can’t say that my idea of Cincinnati was much different when I started at UC. But at that point I felt determined to get out and explore, to see what was outside of the constraints of campus. I admit, the idea of leaving campus was kind of intimidating. I didn’t know where I was going, didn’t know what to expect or who I might encounter.

But, I did it. I mustered up the courage, asked my Cincinnati-native roommates to join me, and we explored. And when we did, I was surprised at what I saw. There were independent boutiques out the wazoo and I could almost afford to shop at them. The people manning the stores were young, hip, trendy and had a pleasant personality that made shopping and visiting the stores more comfortable.

I started to feel a little bit better about Cincinnati. Year after year I’ve kept exploring areas around campus. At this point, I’ve cast inhibition aside and I’m willing to explore even the sketchiest neighborhoods just in case I’m missing out on something fantastic.

As I kept searching, I began to notice just how fabulous Cincinnatians are. Look around campus, for example. In the last three years, there has definitely been a positive shift in the ratio of people who couldn’t dress themselves well in Vogue’s fashion closet and people who could make anything look good. It would seem Cincinnati has caught the fashion bug.

I mean, in 2008, Esquire named Cincinnatian Kenyatte Nelson, a brand manager, as one of the most well-dressed “real men” in America.

Last season on “Project Runway” one of the contestants was a graduate of the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Plannings fashion program. Laura Dawson, who graduated from DAAP in 2002, was a contestant on Bravo’s reality TV show, “The Fashion Show.”

Whatever your fashion philosophy or personal aesthetic, there’s probably something in Cincinnati that fits your fancy. (That will mean you have to look outside of the immediate borders of campus though.)

And if you really can’t find anything among the myriad of independent fashion boutiques to entertain your fashion whimsy, every year, during DAAP Works, the end-of-the-year senior showcase for DAAP students, graduating seniors in the fashion program produce an on-campus fashion show highlighting their work. Although I’ve never made it to the show, I’ve seen the pictures. It’s worth the ticket price.

So you might argue that New York has Fashion Week. Yeah, they do, but now so does Cincinnati. Cincinnati native and fashion designer Nathan Hurst is organizing the city’s First Week of Fashion. The show is being hosted April 19 to April 23. It’s a five-day extravaganza of local, high-end fashion and promotional events. What more could you ask for?

It took me awhile to notice how abundant and unique Cincinnati’s fashion ideology is. And true, Cincinnati isn’t New York or Milan or London. But isn’t that what makes it so great?

To prove Cincinnati is fashion savvy, I’m on a hunt for the most fashionable people on campus. You can nominate yourself or someone you know who does it right, send me an e-mail with at least two pictures, your contact information, the nominees contact information and why you think the person you’re nominating has what it takes. Send information to

1 comment:

Eliz. Lasky said...

I remember that Esquire article! A lot of that "real man"'s lifestyle seemed to be based in whatever was trendy in Hyde Park, so I guess if we want to know what's on-trend, look at Hyde Park. Money might not buy happiness, but apparently it can buy fashion.

Also, having travelled a bit, I would say that if you're shopping on a low budget, Cincinnati is just as good as big cities like San Francisco. Big cities may have a fantastic selection of $$$ designer goods, but if you're poor and living in Boston, you're probably shopping at Sears just like you would here.

At one time, I enjoyed big cities for the fact that they had H&M (very affordable designer knockoffs) and American Apparel (also very chic and affordable), and we didn't. But recently, these stores have expanded into metro Cincinnati. So we're officially part of civilization now.

Also, if you're hunting for the most fashionable people on campus, why not just take a camera to DAAP? Those people are awesome!