When you think of fashion, you more than likely won't think of Indianapolis first. London, Paris, New York, even Chicago. But not Indianapolis.
But why not?
Back in 2010, a group of fashion-minded people -- designers Nikki Blaine, Cathy Fritsch, Truen Jaimes, Ian Stikeleather, style writer Gabrielle Poshadlo and photographer Polina Osherov -- began meeting in Indianapolis under the moniker 'Indianapolis Fashion Collective.' Their hope was to grow the local fashion industry by any means possible. While they realized that the city would never be another New York, they believed that it could definitely have a chance to compete with Chicago.
From that thought, Pattern was born.
Since its launch in 2011, Pattern's goal has been to unite Indianapolis' style-smart individuals and build a community group focused on growing the fashion scene. Members are passionate about moving Indy into a new era of fashion industry awareness and appreciation, with the goal of developing a forward thinking, diverse and highly talented fashion industry with national (and even international) industry recognition.
Don't laugh, they're serious.
And possibly not that far off.
"Indy has great momentum," said Maria Dickman, PR and marketing director at Pattern. "It's important to us to be a part of this arts and culture renaissance and to use this momentum to get people talking about the city, and about the fashion industry's role here."
The group continues to coordinate monthly public meet-ups to engage and network, often connecting designers to patternmakers, models to photographers, people who want to put on fashion shows to people who know how, the fashionistas to the wannabes. These events not only attract up to 150 people at a time, but have also helped to increase Pattern membership to 650 people, up from 500 just since January.
It didn't take long for the group to realize that they needed a way to showcase local talent and broaden the community's reach. In spring 2012, joining forces with veteran graphic designer and art director Kathy Davis, they began publishing Pattern Paper, a twice-yearly magazine. Living both digitally and in print, Pattern showcases the very best of Central Indiana's diverse industry talent and businesses. Their content covers the whole spectrum; from local boutiques, retailers and galleries, to designers, photographers, models, tailors, makeup artists and hair stylists. Pattern even highlights the modern edge of fashion by including tech startups and all things even tangentially related to fashion. Though connecting and growing the Indianapolis fashion scene is at the core of the magazine, it also features interviews with successful Hoosiers in the industry who are living and working outside of the state.
"The [latest] issue is about transitioning, growth, and the next steps for Pattern and the city," Dickman said.
You'll probably recognize a few familiar names and faces. In this transit-themed issue, big names from local organizations have taken an interest in connecting the Indy fashion scene to one of the most important and polarizing issues that Indianapolis currently faces in our quest to become a world class city. You'll find a letter from the Mayor, pictures from places like Big Car Service Center in Lafayette Square, an article about the history of Union Station and its impact on the retail industry, a Hitchcock-inspired editorial shot at the airport and other transit-themed editorials from movers and shakers around the city.
Expanding and building a better mass transit system in Indianapolis and throughout central Indiana has been the goal of many individuals and organizations for several years. Central Indiana's mass transit system could be on track for a transformation, if Indiana legislators approve a bill to let voters decide to fund a new plan. The Indy Connect plan, which would double bus service and add five rapid transit lines, will radically change central Indiana and is set for the Senate in the next couple of weeks.
In dedicating the spring issue to the idea of transit, Pattern hopes to add a new perspective to the citywide conversation. The magazine emphasizes that transit is as much a part of everyday life as what you choose to wear. In fact, John Beeler and Michael Kaufmann make the argument that different kinds of transportation even influences what you wear and how you dress.
"Mass transit has been a hot topic in Indianapolis for several months now, and in general, we feel like the city itself has been going through a transition," Osherov said. "Transit...Transition--it made all kinds of sense, so we wanted to document what was happening right before us through the lens of fashion and style."
Dickman and Osherov both give thanks to the surge of city pride that resulted from hosting the 2012 Super Bowl. Getting that sort of national recognition, seeing Hoosiers come together to make such a huge event possible, and riding the resulting wave of progress has propelled the city forward, with Pattern right in the mix.
Indianapolis' Super Bowl was undoubtedly a catalyst that got Hoosiers talking about what they could do next to prepare the city for future events, and people are seeing that a better transit system would make the city more attractive. For those who call Indianapolis home, a better transit system would help improve everyday life. It will give Hoosiers options for travel to and from work; and with the young creative class opting out of vehicle ownership, transit is increasingly appealing to those in the fashion and arts industries.
"Individuals and organizations seem to be more actively engaged in creating conversations and pushing the envelope on how to transform Indianapolis into a world-class city. We have a lot of great things going for us as a place to live, but they are things that require a deeper, more thoughtful evolution, from transit to architecture, to restaurants and retail to cultural and entertainment options and everything in between," Osherov said.
It's often said that Indianapolis is too humble to speak its own praises; Pattern wants to push that envelope, but not in a way that is off-putting or alienating. The solution? The magazine. While its content is all about promoting Hoosier talent, the design is sleek and sophisticated (and, dare we say 'fashionable'?).
In true Midwestern style, the creators of Pattern are building their community in a very organic way. As a grassroots, volunteer-run, nonprofit organization, Pattern is helping Indianapolis raise its profile. There's a thriving fashion scene here. At first thought, Indiana is about blue jean overalls, North Face jackets and Ugg boots, not a place where you'd expect to find a group like Pattern to be putting out such high-quality magazines as the Spring issue promises to be.
"It's about broadening horizons and continuing to advocate for the creative and innovative people in this city. It's about lifting the level of talent by reinforcing the importance of mentorship and learning, and continuing to develop skills and meaningful relationships. And it's kind of cool that this magazine, although it's all about fashion, is also relevant in the general community because of its topic: transit," Dickman said.
The reaction to the magazine has been "overwhelmingly positive" and the overall consensus is disbelief that something of this caliber is produced here. People see the magazine and say, "This came from Indy?" It's no wonder Pattern doesn't feel that a national, or even international, audience is too far off.
And still, why Indianapolis?
"Why not?" Dickman asks. "There are a lot of really talented people here, who are trying to make an impact. The magazine is just one way we can showcase that."
Locally, it's obvious that there are a lot of creatives that call Indianapolis home who enjoy the pace of life here and how they can stand out in a scene that's still finding its own legs. Here, you can put on a show and have it garner local media attention--try doing that in New York. You can also take your passion for something like public transit and have an open conversation with your Mayor about it--try doing that in New York. Indy's raw potential coupled with its innate need to collaborate and progress makes it ideal for both established and upcoming fashionistas and other young professionals to invent or reinvent themselves in a low risk, high return arena.
Pattern and Pattern Magazine speak very well to what our community is capable of. Both aim to stay as Indianapolis-centric as possible, while garnering attention from big names and players in the fashion world--and the support that an increase in public transit will bring to the arts and culture industry will foster that progress.
"A lot of people are clamoring for this process of evolution to gain momentum and are working hard to make it happen. At the same time, we have a lot of residents who are resistant to change and prefer the status quo, but it feels like the scale is tipping in the favor of those who want Indianapolis to grow up and become everything it can be," Osherov surmises. "We're definitely not there yet and have a long way to go, but there's a decided feeling of being in transition."