Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nanette Lepore Opens Boutique In Youngstown

There's a crisis in the fashion industry. London is fretting over losing young designing talent. In New York, the very existence of the Garment Center is threatened. (Nanette Lepore is a blogger!) The economic geography of fashion may be in a state of flux. That's where Youngstown comes in:

Retailers and their customers are asking for color these days, and that's right up the design table alley of Youngstown-native Nanette Lepore. For Spring 2010, her swinging dresses, feminine tops and sassy shorts shone in a tropical palette of blue, orange and mustard yellow, with a few khakis and deeper blues to calm things down a bit. Prints were plentiful, stripes and florals often in the same outfit.

The passage above is from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. What outsiders don't know about Cleveland, Pittsburgh and (dare I say it) Youngstown is just how cosmopolitan many of the residents are thanks to growing up in close proximity to world class cultural amenities. That Nanette Lepore is from Youngstown isn't some bizarre random occurrence, an anomaly.

I make mention of the Cleveburgh disposition because of a recent conversation I had in Youngstown. The idea discussed was Ms. Lepore opening a store in her hometown. But who would shop there? Obviously, people from Cleveland who read about fashion in their local paper. I'd bet plenty of folks in Pittsburgh recognize the Lepore brand.

Perhaps the Pittsburgh market doesn't justify a shop. Nor would an exclusive Cleveland location. But combine the two cities and you have critical mass for an economic niche found only in the likes of London and New York. Dream even bigger and imagine the Garment Center in Youngstown, appropriating declining manufacturing space as it did in Manhattan.

Super models strutting through the Mahoning Valley? Believe it.

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