is in full bloom in one of the most unlikely places in Detroit - a
clothing store. The dream team of fashion at Pure Detroit has created
a fresh new space for the manipulation of common, everyday clothing.
Pure Detroit's fashion experiment space, aptly subtitled "design
lab" mixes notions of what it means to create clothing in Detroit.
The design lab is both a shop that houses a unique and fresh approach
to fashion, and a studio where designers create on location. The team
runs the cash register and the sewing needle at the same time. Thus
the customer is let into the lab and has a chance to leave with one-of-a-kind
specimens. Designers are invited for six-week intervals and provided
with full access to the lab's ample space (and sewing machine), all
in order to help the designer lead fashion instead of following it.
The vibe in the store changes with each designer - this person not
only constructs the window display to attract attention from the street,
but also chooses a visual artist to exhibit alongside the clothing
inside. By blurring the lines between art, fashion, and performance,
the design lab's experimental style is setting the newest trend in
Imagine your everyday shopper stepping into the Pure
Detroit: design lab. The walls are lined with rack after rack of clothing
sorted by individual designer and stuffed with unique items waiting
to be incorporated into one's personal style. And for every item,
there are plenty of accessories that will accompany it perfectly.
Browsing the racks purposefully placed around the outer edges of the
store, likely one will begin to notice the original artwork dispersed
throughout the store and the bustle of activity in the center of the
shop. The lab workers want shoppers to pay as much attention to the
creation of the clothing as the finished articles hanging on the walls.
The design lab team installed a sewing machine in the center of the
store, often occupied by a designer mindfully creating a new garment.
A new garment, that, in the near future, shoppers in the store will
be able to buy. This, in effect, transports the shopper into the design
process: in noting the exact stitching and placement of any sort of
detail, the customer begins to feel as if he or she has some sort
of say into what this piece could turn out to be. This turns the history
of fashion creation on its head: a process that has been traditionally
so far removed from the actual buyer that designers have long held
a special iconic and heroic status.
inviting the customer to be engaged in the production of clothes that
they might wear in the future, the design lab becomes something more
than just a clothing store, but an interactive laboratory of clothing
production. The customer can simply watch the process or directly
converse with the designer. Each of Pure Detroit's guest designers
has a major say in the entire presentation of their work throughout
their stay, but the store is not set up as the designer on display.
The entire format of the design lab is conceived as a method to bring
a greater community effort into the design of Detroit fashion. This
even includes the staff bustling around the space - these are not
your ordinary sales-people. Sure, they want to sell the clothing that
is on consignment from area designers (though these pieces need little
pitch for they are enticing completely on their own) but they also
want to talk with shoppers, and get a sense of their opinion about
the merchandise on the spot. They are a team of lab technicians, but,
of course, better dressed!
design lab team is committed to exposing Detroit as an incubator for
new ideas where everyone is welcome, especially designers looking
for a new route into the fashion world. This sense of commitment to
the city and fashion is found at all levels of the business. Pure
Detroit's owner Shawn Santo started the design lab to keep local designers
in the city and provide an outlet for their talent. Store director
Sarah Lurtz, a noted young Detroit designer herself, is responsible
for bringing in the different designers, selecting the clothing, and
operating the store. And then of course there are the individual designers,
and their personal commitment to making their presence felt, and growing
Detroit's reputation as a place for great fashion. All together, they
have big plans to keep the space evolving with new designers and new
experiments with fashion and performance. The only thing that the
design lab team asks for is commitment from everyone - an easy task
when they make buying clothes exciting and meaningful again.