Washington D.C. is an international crossroads of culture, power, influence and history-making. However—at least historically—D.C. has never had much of a (positive) reputation for fashion.
Between sparse shining examples like Jackie O. and Michelle Obama, Washingtonians have been easily lost in a wasteland of complexion-blanding tones and boxy suits.
However, recent strides suggest increasing fashion consciousness as well as the potential for fashion to contribute significantly to the local economy.
Washingtonians can now watch a top designer’s collection come down the runway live while comparing reactions with with one friend from Pakistan and another from Portland. With rising numbers of major luxury fashion labels establishing locations in D.C., those friends may also then find their way to see some of the same designer’s work together, in person, without leaving the District.
A healthy crop of next-generation designers have already launched from Washington. Among others, Noon by Noor (a Bahraini duo who graduated from Marymount fashion school) and Cushnie Et Ochs (co-founded by Gaithersburg native Michelle Ochs) both showed at New York Fashion Week 2012. D.C.-based Nepali by TDM design is carried by luxury retailers, seen in Marie Claire and worn by celebrities.
And unlike decades past, being in D.C. means first-hand access to BCBG’s chic opulence, Michael Kors’ potent-classic lines, Kate Spade’s vibrant colors, or Neimann Marcus in all its multi-faceted glory, among others. In April, celebrated American designer Billy Reid opened up shop in Georgetown. Mike Grady, Reid’s director of sales, says, “[Washington has] more foot-traffic than any store in the company…It’s important for brand awareness with this being the shopping district in such a well-traveled city.”