Sophisticated boutiques and exciting independent designers are adding a new dimension to our state’s destination for shopping and style.
Since The Limited opened shop 50 years ago, Columbus has become synonymous with fashion. As the headquarters for Limited Brands — the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works and Henri Bendel — the city is a beacon for talented designers.
So, it should come as no surprise that The Atlantic Cities, a digital expansion of Boston’s “The Atlantic” magazine, listed Columbus third in its September 2012 ranking of “Top 20 Large Metros for Fashion Designers.”
“There is a very educated fashion presence here,” says Sara Guice, co-founder of Thread on Grandview. “You have people who for their jobs are traveling overseas to Europe and to New York and LA.”
But it isn’t just about big-name brands. Columbus also has a growing pool of independent talent throughout the city, and the shopping scene reflects that. Columbus has become a hotspot for carefully curated boutiques such as Guice’s Thread on Grandview, as well as a home base for gregarious personalities such as Anti-Label’s Kelli Martin and Jones Select Custom Clothiers’ Gary Jones, who are managing their own lines
The Sophisticated Bohème
Earthy tones and raw wood give off a rustic air that makes meandering through the racks at Thread on Grandview feel like shopping in your own closet.
Sisters Miranda Boyle and Sara Guice opened the Columbus store in January 2012, building off the yin and yang of their professional strengths. While Guice handles the operational work, Boyle plays creative director and curator, scouring the Internet and candidly asking anyone on the street for news on standout pieces and emerging designers.
Pieces by edgy-feminine Rebecca Minkoff and the casual, eclectic Haute Hippie are among the better-known names they carry, but the store also stocks jewelry from exclusive designers. Pluma Jewelry is one, featuring genuine gemstones and one-of-a-kind pieces produced entirely by Treffry Caldwell in Upper Arlington.
Displays showcase clothing with sophisticated bohemian silhouettes, often with an extra edge in the form of studs and embellishments. Guice and her sister know their shoppers are often traveled fashion professionals who are familiar with top brands and designers. “We have to be really savvy buyers,” she says.
Guice draws inspiration from her time living in France, and the sisters return to Europe frequently, seeking new lines to introduce in the United States. On one visit to southern France, the sisters came across Maison Scotch, a small, up-and-coming line out of Amsterdam known for spectacular attention to detail. A genuine leather short-sleeve top with quilted collarbone ($299) from Maison Scotch is now hanging in Thread, the only boutique in Columbus to carry the line.
“Our customers like to know about the artist,” Boyle says. “They love the story behind our collection.” 1306 Grandview Ave., Columbus, 614/481-3090; 13 S. High St., Dublin, 614/659-0800; shopthreadonline.com
Everyone knows the suit has long belonged to the realm of the working professional and business executive. But with the rise of street-style blogs, the well-dressed man is making a comeback and so is old-fashioned custom tailoring.
“Feel this,” Gary Jones says, opening a booklet of Dormeuil fabric he keeps in his design studio. Dormeuil carries the reputation for selecting impeccable raw materials and lends itself to the higher level of craftsmanship desired in the world of custom tailoring.
Jones founded Jones Select Custom Clothiers in 2009 after spending four years learning the trade from a Los Angeles-based master tailor who trained him over the phone continuously and in person multiple times a year. Jones wanted to deviate from the strictly classic suit style of his mentors.
Jones wants to modernize his industry by providing value to the modern man. That means not only offering top-quality materials and craftsmanship but getting to the core of a customer’s personality. “I feel like their brand should represent where they’re going and who they perceive themselves to be,” he says.
Each consultation begins with a one-on-one conversation, offering customers both individual attention and a personalized education. Jones teaches clients to break their bad style habits and introduces them to higher-quality products. He educates them on the appropriate length of sleeves and allows them to handle different quality fabrics.
“When you dress well, you feel a certain way and get a certain amount of attention,” Jones says. “People have a different way that they respect and perceive you based on your clothing.”
Though he gradually started working with clients across the country, Jones has no plans of moving his base out of his hometown of Columbus. Opening a boutique may also be an option but Jones’ focus is maintaining that personal touch.
“The great thing about my business is I built it off of shaking hands,” Jones says. “I build a relationship.” Call 614/638-3600 for an appointment; jonesselect.com
After a night of models strolling down the catwalk in pearl-adorned dresses, neon tulle skirts, shredded-to-perfection tops and cupcake-shaped headpieces, Columbus’ inaugural Alternative Fashion Week furthered Kelli Martin’s reputation as a designer to watch.
Known for her run on Season 5 of Bravo’s “Project Runway,” Martin has since become a name in the Columbus fashion scene thanks to her role in Alternative Fashion Mob, a consortium of designers, industry professionals and couture enthusiasts who embrace breaking the rules.
“A lot of people misconstrue Alternative Fashion Mob,” Martin says, suggesting it is often misinterpreted as punk rock. “The alternative is really open to anything: alternative to the norm, alternative as in unique or weird.”
Martin helped create the group in October 2012 based on the idea that the fashion world should be more inclusive and less intimidating. This summer, community members filled the seats for a series of Alternative Fashion Week events, which covered a wide array of Columbus underground fashion.
While Martin may have an unconventional take, her craftsmanship is fine-tuned. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles in 2001 and returned in 2004 for the Advanced Design Program on a full scholarship from Bob Mackie.
“I can make crazy deconstructed garments,” Martin says. “But they’re going to fit you like a glove.”
Anti-Label is her higher-end line, geared toward a more mature audience and conceived while Martin was living in California. Her younger, ready-to-wear line is Pretty Ugly, featuring brighter colors, fun rockabilly dresses and vintage-inspired items.
Pretty Little Maniacs became available this summer for 7- to 13-year-olds. Inspired by Martin’s childhood ensembles, the bold prints, ruffles and tulle reflect her 1980s pop culture muses Jem and the Holograms and Cyndi Lauper.
Martin’s next big project is working on creating a storefront where local designers can have studio space.
“We want one place where all local designers can sell their stuff,” she says. “Something really realistic just to give them the resources I didn’t have when I was starting.” anti-label-clothing.com
WEB EXCLUSIVE: Ever wanted a makeover but were too shy to give it a shot? Senior editor Linda Feagler took the plunge by visiting Columbus and partaking of the city's fashionable options. Read about her experience and see before-and-after photos here. Plus, learn how you can win your very own Columbus Style Getaway.
When heading to Columbus for your next shopping trip, put these local boutiques on your list.
A Gal Named Cinda Lou
20 N. State St., Westerville,
Mid-20th century vintage clothing, home décor and handmade items.
989 N. High St., Columbus,
Vintage shoes, clothing, jewelry, furniture and housewares.
2128 Arlington Ave., Upper Arlington,
Classic women’s fashion with a mix of both established and emerging designers from the U.S. and abroad.
Milk Bar Boutique
765 N. High St., Columbus,
Trendy styles for men and women with influences ranging from classic Americana to Japanese Harajuku.
1618 N. High St., Columbus,
Clothing, accessories and shoes perfect for the student price range. Located close to campus.
718 N. High St., Columbus,
Big Apple-worthy contemporary clothing and accessories.
Royal Factory Atelier
1209 N. High St., Columbus,
Vintage finds, local creations and funky accessories.
783 N. High St., Columbus,
Fabulous clothes by local designers alongside sustainable clothing, jewelry and accessories.
787 N. High St., Columbus,
Mix of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, plus stationery collection and locally crafted art.
B. Tuckerman Unique Eyewear
1300 Grandview Ave., Grandview Heights,
Barbi Tuckerman has been dubbed the “Eyewear Queen” for designing her own frames and her ability to match a pair of designer frames to a customer’s personality.
Mukha Custom Cosmetics & Medi-Spa
980 N. High St., Columbus,
Personalized cosmetics using makeup artist Tim Maurer’s mineral-based and oil-, alcohol-,fragrance- and talc-free color and skin care line.