may 14, 2016
We kicked off the discussions as a group of ten joined the #200Dinners event, a citywide discussion celebrating Pittsburgh's Bicentennial. The topic was "The Future" asking attendees of each independantly hosted dinner to address the following questions about our city's well-being and more inclusive future.
Given this opportunity, Style412, a new series to begin a discussion about Pittsburgh's style industry, invited 10 movers & shakers to meet and discuss the topic (as related to style).
Attendees: Aire Plichta-Reese (PR Modcloth), Brittney Thieroff (Talent Recruitment Specialist), Tori Mistik (Co-Founder of Style Social, Blogger at WearWagRepeat), Kiya Tomlin (Uptown Sweats), Demeatria Boccella (Talent Expert, Fashion Producer), Chamese Bennett (PR/ Marketing Specialist), Marissa Fogel (General Manager at The Beauty Shoppe), Elysia Purnell (Style412 Organizer & Dinner Host)
Where was your dinner held? (Home, restaurant, etc.) *
The Beauty Shoppe / A design-driven co-working space in East Liberty. Scratch F&B catered a thought-provoking palette for the evening.
How many people attended?
What makes you proud to call Pittsburgh home?
Pittsburgh is a place for opportunity. As the evening progressed and a group of 10 women meeting to chat fashion specifically, shared experiences of their various backgrounds and specialities in this field, a group view of Pittsburgh emerged:
How can Pittsburgh attract and retain the best and brightest to continue creating opportunity here at home?
The (style) industry, like others which bolster support from the city + independent / non-profit resources, also needs this attention. Suzanne Mauro, fashion maven and design instructor at the Art Instruction half-jokingly exclaimed "before I die, I would like to see a fashion incubator program in this city." We all chuckled but agreed with sparkles in our eyes.
Our dinner group also discussed a "style street" revival where a collective of current shops could reside (not unlike what Walnut Street used to be). "We've become diluted." Offering a geographic go-to besides the mall would perhaps make it easier to highlight what we have to offer.
What is one idea that would solve a problem in your neighborhood to make it better?
"We are missing out on quality" pointed out guest Demeatria Boccella, an icon and role model for outstanding talent in the fashion community. With the Pittsburgh fashion community being a "wild west" of opportunity, comes confusion about where the bar of standard is set. Determining where that standard is and supporting our community as a whole to get there is an education piece that is currently missing.
What should Pittsburgh become and how do we get there?
The dinner wrapped up with the toughest question of all, and perhaps the least complicated of answers: integration. At large, the fashion industry of Pittsburgh has struggled because there is no committee, overseeing organization or master calendar which addresses the specific interests and needs of this industry. Like tech, performing arts & sports, the fashion industry has a fan-base present in the city that we've seen through events like Style Week and boutiques like Number14 surface. What it (the style scene) lacks currently is an integrated community & support system for it to flourish.