Metro DC sheds staid image to put young designers on fashion runway

Anamika Roy, Capital News Service

WASHINGTON – The nation’s capital has long been known as a place full of stuffy gray suits and neatly pressed ties, but these days, designers are loosening the top button.

“There has been a stigma with D.C. fashion,” said Michelle Gibson, a fashion designer and Howard University senior. “It’s gray, tacky and uninspiring.”

That stiff image is being erased by a confluence of forces that are putting D.C. on the fashion map: Up-and-coming, home-grown designers, showcase venues in DC Fashion Week and the DC Fashion Incubator, plus a young, hungry, well-heeled consumer market.

Gibson is a prime example. She’s one of a handful of students at Howard to have started their own clothing line as a college student. Hers is called “Simply L3ve,” and she showcased her collection at DC Fashion Week’s Emerging Designers Showcase in February.

Gibson traces her fashion aspirations back to when she had to wear a uniform for school. Her peers all had to wear the same, bland uniform, but she noticed how each made subtle adjustments to make those costumes their own.

“I was a quiet observer,” she said.

This was the inspiration for Simply L3ve — a customizable clothing line that allows her customers the creative freedom to create their personal style.

To Gibson, personal style is about being able to take a template and add colors and prints of the wearer’s choosing.

“I want my customers to wear something no one else has,” said Gibson.

That’s exactly the DC fashion vibe, said Janice Wallace, editor-in-chief of Fa

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