Open letter from me to you – Kind of.

Dear fellow fashion professionals:

It’s safe to say that on a weekly basis I get asked the question, “…so why are you in Indy?” I have heard this from editors of other well-visited fashion sites, PR professionals, and small business owners. I always take a deep breath before launching into my explanation. How do I adequately convey the idea that I am not settling by staying in Indianapolis? I’m sure that I’m not the only one living and working in Indy who gets that question. And while it is annoying sometimes, it’s not a bad query. In fact, I’d like to propose that we, the residents of Indianapolis, should be posing that question to ourselves: WHY AM I IN INDY?

Don’t just give the standard (safe) response of, “because I love this city,” or “because there is something special about this place.” For real, why have you decided that Indy is the place to set up shop? I mean, progress is being made in Indy, but lets not forget parts of our culture still embrace Affliction shirts and carpenter jeans as stylish wardrobe pieces.

Lets start off with the spring issue of Pattern magazine that launched last week. Have you seen it? It’s a must-have, unbiased, high quality publication. It’s proof that there are very talented people with both passion and vision in this city, and (even better!) there are people in Indy who support such efforts. Pattern magazine compels us to embrace the vision of a viable fashion industry in our city, one that is both valued and has a meaningful economic impact. Can you imagine? Bringing fashion-related jobs to Indy might seem like a crazy thought, but is it really? I think it is in our Hoosier blood to embrace innovative ideas, exceed expectations, and prove the naysayers wrong. There is a sentiment that many people are dedicated to building something here because they love the city.  I think that that something is the key to what is happening next with our industry. What is the future of a fashion industry in this city? Can it even be done? What are the real business resources that need to be in place? Is the right leadership in place to move industry professionals to that level?

A few weeks ago, twenty people gathered together for a moderated industry discussion over dinner. It was great to see some people I knew, but also to meet people that I probably never would have under normal circumstances. The room held a diverse group of leaders in the fashion industry and from around the city. There were many questions brought up over dinner and drinks, and I am still pondering one, in particular: What is really needed to build the foundation to support an attractive pool of resources for industry professionals?

I think anyone who has dedicated the time, energy, and talent to growing the fashion culture in Indy would like to see their efforts used as a foundation to build to whatever comes next. Personally, I question if the current leaders have time. Look around at the people working to impact our community. Many are donating immense amount of time to this effort, while keeping up with whatever profession pays their bills.  Tons of effort goes into selling, marketing, branding, and, well, getting a hustle on. With all that work, is there really time to build an infrastructure to support and appeal to emerging industry professionals, convince them to stay, and give others a reason to consider Indy as a viable fashion industry resource? Are we crazy?

So I encourage you, fashion industry and other professionals, to share your thoughts and answer the two questions below in the comments section. You know where to find us on Twitter, too, if that’s more your thing: @PatternIndy and @_Jeremiah_

  1. Why, as a fashion industry professional or aspiring one, are you staying in Indy?
  2. What is really needed to build the foundation to support an attractive environment for fashion industry business.

Jeremiah Williams

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