Photo Credit: Jessica Smith
Local fashion designer Shawna Lea Maranville tailors a pair of pants at Community.
Since style (or the studied lack of it) is an essential visual element in performance, it’s no surprise that Athens creativity reaches all the way to the closet. From a successful string of seasonal fashion shows featuring emerging designers to the recent mention in the New York Times of local boutique Community, Athens' fashion scene is gaining recognition.
One way Athens pays homage to its rich cultural underpinnings is through an emphasis on vintage.
“Vintage is the intersection where thrift, fashion and counterculture meet,” says David Wolfe, owner of Minx Vintage, “so it stands to reason that it has always been a major factor here,”
Local boutiques such as Minx, Agora, Community, Dynamite and Southern Vision focus on reselling vintage clothing, often revamping outdated pieces. A do-It-yourself approach to customizing style takes advantage of vintage clothing by modifying outdated items to better fit current trends. It’s a cheap and resourceful alternative to buying new, name-brand wear, and in a college town, it can be a necessity.
“If you are not a herd follower and more of an individual and not on a Beverly Hills budget, you have to expand your sources along with your horizons,” Wolfe says.
Do-it-yourself is also an exploration of design, since vintage clothes frequently need an alteration or two. Community hosts sewing classes for beginner through advanced students, and alterations are offered at local tailors such as Sew Normal.
Athens fashion also acknowledges sustainability with clothing and accessories sourced from upcycled materials, recycled fabrics and redesigned clothing. Athens Fashion Collective, a group showcasing local artists and designers, hosts seasonal fashion shows that breathe new life into classic designs.
Community has recently launched Community Made, their house label of eco-friendly t-shirts designed by people in the Athens music scene.
Fashion has also steadily become more organized on campus. UGA’s fashion merchandising major prepares students to qualify for careers ranging from retail to apparel and textile manufacturing, and its reach extends beyond the classroom through various campus organizations. The UGAgency is the university’s first in-house modeling agency and has a commitment to community service. Believing that being a model also means being a role model, The UGAgency—apart from portfolio building—hosts self-confidence and healthy-living seminars for middle-school-aged children and works to encourage under-privileged youth to pursue post-secondary education. The university also boasts the Student Merchandising Association, Fashion Design Student Association and the fashion magazine The Little Red Book, all of which offer students the opportunity to network with industry professionals.
Athens Street Style, a blog documenting the clothing habits of students on campus, provides a glimpse into another aspect of Athens' fashion sense. And, while vintage may be at the heart of Athens style, locally owned boutiques like Cheeky Peach, The Red Dress Boutique, Flirt Fashions and Heery’s Clothes Closet bring current designer wear to Athens.
Ultimately, what Athens embodies is personality, rebellion and individuality—an accumulation of both the past and the present, accepting a few trends and opposing just as many. Vintage and current styles both, seen through artists’ eyes, create an idiosyncratic fashion scene blending adaptive re-use with the new.