Mirror, Mirror: A week of fashion to drum up fall business

The Philadelphia Collection, eight days of fashion events, starts Wednesday. RYAN S. GREENBERG/ Staff Photographer
The Philadelphia Collection, eight days of fashion events, starts Wednesday. RYAN S. GREENBERG/ Staff Photographer
Posted: September 19, 2013

Wednesday is the start of eight days of shopping, styling, and sipping, courtesy of some of our city's top fashion leaders, from the Giovanni & Pileggi salon to the new-school, fitted, menswear haunt Suitsupply.

The Philadelphia Collection - TPC, to insiders - is in its fourth year. Think of it as the city's week-long version of Vogue's Fashion Night Out, with 60 events in neighborhoods from downtown to West Philadelphia hosting fashion presentations, cocktail hours, and trunk shows.

The goal is to drum up fall business - as in, getting you to pay full price for a subdued color-block dress (and envelope clutch).

TPC organizers have been working on this year's fashion calendar since early spring, and it's a pretty sharp collaboration of mostly free events that tap into today's emerging small-business-driven fashion world.

For example, specialty stores Kembrel and US*U.S. will have trunk shows promoting designers who make apparel and accessories in Philadelphia and New York's garment district, capitalizing on the made-in-America trend.

Other like-minded events include trunk shows by area-based womens-wear labels Laundrea and Bela Shehu. Sarah Van Aken will host her annual fashion show in her store in the coming week as well.

This year's schedule has more menswear events, too. Joan Shepp, SuitSupply, and Commonwealth Proper are all hosting happy hours tied to y-chromosomal-themed shopping. Menswear is a hot topic right now thanks to two predominant trends: androgyny in fashion (remember Kanye West's skirt?) and all things tailored to a T (guys can't get enough of gingham shirts right now).

Add a new event: Rittenhouse Square will host a Fashion Crawl on Thursday - for $25, you can sip stylish cocktails in specialty boutiques. On Friday, Hotel Palomar will host a one-day pop-up shop with vintage pieces from top luxury designers including Oscar de la Renta and Christian Louboutin.

Among the TPC standbys, Macy's grand Fall Fashion Show will feature designers from the Philadelphia Incubator at Macy's. Also under the TPC umbrella will be the 20th anniversary of producer Sharon Phillips Waxman's Phashion Phest, a glitzy show of fall fashions from local boutiques next Wednesday.

FBH's annual Philadelphia Fashion Week(end), courtesy of fashion show producers Kevin Parker and Kerry Scott, is celebrating its fifth year with a two-day runway presentation highlighting East Coast couture and ready-to-wear designers this Friday and Saturday.

On Monday, Nicole Miller will host her annual 19 Most Fashionable Women cocktail party at the Hyatt at the Bellevue. (Full disclosure: I was voted one of the city's 19 this year).

For fashion entrepreneurs, there are two social think tanks. Thursday's will focus on building a fashion empire through e-commerce and will feature Horsham-based e-retailer Linda Lightman of Linda's Stuff, which at $20 million in annual sales is the largest e-retailer of fashion and accessories on eBay.

The second seminar, on Monday, will be about turning a passion for fashion into a business. Among the panelists are stylist Misa Hylton (also known as P. Diddy's ex), who has worked with Mary J. Blige, Usher, and Nicki Minaj.

Both think tanks will be streamed live via http://new.livestream.com/thephiladelphiacollection.

TPC is the chic creation of city representative Melanie Johnson, who handles special events including the July 4th festivities on the Ben Franklin Parkway, and Michelle Shannon, a vice president of the Center City District.

Shannon has spent the last few years trying to juice up the downtown shopping experience by luring designer brands to open specialty shops.

If Philadelphia can continue to gloss its shopping reputation, Shannon says, then maybe in addition to this year's coups - both Madewell and Theory moving in on Walnut Street - the city can draw more runway-worthy brands such as Tory Burch or Kate Spade.

That's progress for a city and a real estate community interested in moving young, affluent families into the new high-rises springing up in Center City. (Repairing the dilapidated school system would surely go further than fashion, but that's a different column.)

TPC has managed to attract editors from New York magazines to cover the fashion festivities, which could mean a host of blurbs on local businesses in the likes of Ebony, W Magazine, and Harper's Bazaar in coming months.

However, in addition to luring new retailers and polishing our image, the true testament to TPC's success is that it managed to unite a disparate fashion community plagued by poor promotion - one that up until four years ago was divided along racial fault lines.

By creating a fashion calendar, securing sponsors (including Immaculata University), and spending an additional few thousand dollars on marketing, Philadelphia has managed to create an umbrella of fashion events uniquely its own.

For a complete schedule of The Philadelphia Collection events, log on to http://www.thephiladelphiacollection.org/events/

Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter, @ewellingtonphl.

comments powered by Disqus