The Next Big Thing in Fashion? It’s Columbus

December 19th, 2013 by Amanda Pierce
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Short North Arts District (screenshot from

Short North Arts District (screenshot from

Take a stroll through Columbus’ Short North Arts District or shopping mecca Easton Town Center and it’s easy to see how Ohio’s capital city has quickly become a place to watch in the fashion world.

Retail giants like Abercrombie & Fitch, The Limited, Express, and Victoria’s Secret have headquarters here, along with a flourishing bunch of boutiques in the Short North, Columbus’ hotbed for independent fashion.

USA Today called Columbus “one of the country’s chicest capitals” in a July article touting the city as an “unlikely fashion hub.”

Unlikely? Maybe. But fashion hub? “Definitely,” Maren Roth, the owner of Rowe Boutique, said in the article.

“Columbus has to be fashionable,” said Roth, whose clothing and accessory shop calls the Short North home. “With so many fashion companies based here, Columbus has a discerning client base that sees what’s being sold in New York City and wants to be able to buy it here. They have an appetite for clothing.”

A promising crop of CCAD alumni are also to thank for Columbus’ boost in fashion cred.

Fashion Design alumna Cierra Reeve-Cunningham (CCAD 2010) is a designer for Abercrombie & Fitch and said that, while she dreams of branching out and expanding her own personal brand, she doesn’t plan on leaving Columbus anytime soon.

“Being here gives me the opportunity to take advantage of all that Columbus has to offer,” said Reeve-Cunningham. “I love being a part of fashion growth in Columbus.”

That growth has taken many different forms, including CMH Fashion Week, the self-proclaimed “largest fashion movement in the Midwest,” which provides a high-profile platform for local designers, photographers, and creatives.

Reeve-Cunningham presented her line of couture bridal gowns at the event’s first bridal runway show this year.

Senior Fashion Show 2013

Senior Fashion Show 2013

“[CMH Fashion Week] shows how much excitement there is for fashion and creativity in Columbus,” said Reeve-Cunningham of her 10th fashion show. “I love the excitement and exposure [the shows] bring, but most of all, the connections that I make along the way.”

CCAD alumni accounted for eight of the 21 designers at this year’s CMH Fashion Week. They included Fashion Design alumni Genoveva Christoff (CCAD 2009), Marquis Engle (attended in 2009), Cierra Reeve-Cunningham (CCAD 2010), Makayla Cook (CCAD 2011), Rachel Kaplan (CCAD 2012), Olivia VanScoyoc (CCAD 2011), Olivia Brezinski  (CCAD 2013), and Kassie Haji (CCAD 2013).

This year, CCAD partnered with CMH Fashion Week to award Fashion Design senior Ryun Harrison a merit-based scholarship. Harrison was honored during the finale fashion show on Oct. 12.

Columbus also plays host to myriad fashion-centric events throughout the year including High Ball, the Short North’s Halloween costume extravaganza, and CCAD’s own Senior Fashion Show in May.

Fashion Design alumna Tina Hughes (CCAD 2013) showed in the 2013 Senior Fashion Show and was selected to show a new collection at Los Angeles Fashion Week shortly after.

Before Hughes came to CCAD, she studied fashion in New York City, and although the transition was a shock in the beginning, she quickly realized all that Columbus had to offer.

“One of the perks to being in a smaller city than New York is the opportunities,” she said. “In Columbus, everyone embraces entrepreneurs and young creativity. They all cheer for you to succeed and want to help you out along the way.”

“It has been amazing to see the transition of the city in the last couple years and to see it keep growing,” Hughes said.

Be sure to follow all of the CCAD Senior Fashion Show happenings on the Fashion Show blog, where you’ll get an insider’s look at designer collections, photoshoots, and runway dress rehearsals.


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