All you fellow ‘Phashionistas’ out there have probably caught wind of the major buzz surrounding the second installment of The Philadelphia Collection. Coinciding with Center City Restaurant Week from September 12-24th, The Philadelphia Collection will comprise of a series of independently produced events–from fashion shows and expert discussion panels to boutique specials and trunk shows. Recently, VG had the chance to pick the brains of Melanie Johnson and Michelle Shannon, the visionaries behind TPC, to get a more personal view of what it all means–not only to them, but to our City of Sisterly Affection as well.
When someone utters the words Philadelphia fashion scene, what are the first thoughts that come to your mind?
MJ: Vibrant, eclectic, bountiful, and fun.
MS: Diverse, ever-changing, ever-expanding, authentic, independent, and energetic.
In your opinion, do you see the scene in Philly evolving within the next five or ten years? How far has it come? Where do you personally shop in Philadelphia?
MJ: The scene has evolved so quickly over the past ten years that I can only see it growing and getting bigger and better within the next five to ten. I think we as a city are very good at attracting unique talents to our retail market, and when upscale retailers get to know our shoppers, they follow. Where I choose to shop in Philadelphia depends both on my mood and what I desire at the time. Some days, I may feel like going to eclectic and funky boutiques, while on other days I’ll tend to stay more mainstream and classic. Whatever my heart fancies, Philly has it all.
MS: I think, within the next five to ten years, our fashion scene will only continue to blossom. Over the past twenty years, Philadelphia’s Center City and its adjacent neighborhoods have exploded with residential, cultural, and culinary establishments. Philadelphia has also become a more affordable artistic outpost when compared to the illustrious New York City. All of these factors have made it a very desirable location for young, creative people–fashion designers and retailers, alike. In addition, we are presently investigating various programs that will encourage designers to remain in Philadelphia.
What was your creative vision when you first conceived of the Philadelphia Collection? Has the end result done justice to that initial vision?
MJ: The vision was to take what was already happening in Philadelphia in terms of fashion and retail initiatives and create a marketing umbrella to help promote these events in order to strengthen Philadelphia’s place on the fashion map. This is all part of a larger goal to showcase the City of Philadelphia as a fashion and style destination, where we can attract visitors and retailers into the city to see just how much is happening here.
MS: While there is always an opportunity to change and expand the event, I believe that it does exactly what we intended, which is to shine the spotlight on Philadelphia’s fashion industry and bring additional foot traffic and sales to our boutiques.
What advice would you give those of us who are looking to jump-start a fashion-related project in Philadelphia?
MJ: Remain true to your passions and identity, but also be aware of your target market. I would also suggest attending as many Philadelphia Collection events as possible to see what works (and how), and to gather creative ideas for your future event. Take advantage of the panel discussions for expert advice in various fields of the fashion industry. It’s also great for networking and finding possible partners for collaborations.
MS: Call us! We’re a wonderful resource and we can help connect you with the right people. There is room for everyone here! We have so much happening that every new project, boutique, or designer just fuels our fire!
And finally, who are your favorite fashion designers and how do they inspire you?
MS: Globally, I love Chanel and Valentino. I believe that their pieces, particularly their accessories, are true works of art. Locally, I recently purchased two gorgeous pieces from Carmelita Couture that are amazingly feminine yet edgy. I also love Paula Hian, Sarah van Aken, and Irina Sigal, all of whom are equally fabulous!
For a full listing of the 75+ Philadelphia Collection events happening around the city, please visit the TPC website. And, of course, if you happen to see us out and about, don’t hesitate to come give a fashionable hello.
Image provided courtesy of thephiladelphiacollection.org