how does “community” happen, anyways?

Way back when I was at Worn Magazine (five years in dog years, five months in human years), two things constantly struck me: how fast DC’s fashion community is growing and how fragmented it is.

Now, that’s not uncommon. DC was never known as a fashion mecca and the number of local designers, crafters and artisans has taken off over the past five to ten years. And everyone is working on their own initiative. So there’s going to be a disconnect.

Here’s how I see it: for a long time, these hardy folks were toiling away in obscurity, feeding off of their own passion and not much else. Then, a very small handful of local shops came onto the scene. People started to think about what sort of organizations might be needed to advocate for a fashion community. Finally, a media (social, print and otherwise) began to build up around the designers and shops, noticing that, hey, something cool was happening here. And some savvy DC residents and consumers have taken note and vote with their feet and dollars, supporting the nascent fashion industry.

All of these pieces now exist.  But its like a recipe after you’ve prepped all of the ingredients and before you’ve started cooking: everything is segregated in its own little bowl.

In order for us to move forward as a fashion community, the ingredients need to get mixed up, smushed into a giant ball of dough. But this is difficult. I don’t even know if the different stakeholders in our fashion community know each other. Or if they communicate. Or if they work together.

But all of these things are really important. Our local designers – emerging, established or otherwise – need the support of a strong community. One that regularly gets together and talks about what needs to happen now and next. Because if we are going to have a thriving, domination-station (as my brothers would say) fashion community, its time for everyone to come together and figure out how to make that happen.

So when Ally and Josef from #DCRESIDENCE approached me and Emma about programming something at The Parlour, we jumped at the chance to bring folks to the table. It’s a conversation worth having and one that we want to continue to have.

And you – we want you too. What ingredients need to go into the mix? What do you want to hear about during the panel? Tell us in the comments and we’ll be sure to add it to the stew.

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  1. Presenting paradigm//shift at #DCRESIDENCE @DCWEEK « - November 2, 2011

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