Cleveland is known for many things: great beer and even better food, a once highly-flammable river, a rich rock and roll history, and lovable sports teams ranging from the winning wine and gold to the boo-worthy brown and orange. One thing Cleveland is not really recognized for is a strong presence in the fashion world. However, many local designers are working to stitch up that perception and sew the city’s name into high-fashion hemlines. PressureLife caught up with three of these fashion aficionados to find out how we can get Cleveland runway ready, and how they plan to take their handmade designs out of the dawg pound and onto the catwalk.
Danielle Pusateri, the fiery fashionista, is a 2013 Kent State graduate who started out majoring in graphic design, but decided to switch lanes into fashion design after attending a campus fashion show. After graduating, she designed a men’s line for Xhibition, a local art and fashion gallery, but she later jumped ship to Forma Apparel Manufacturing in Beachwood, where she is currently helping to design their kidswear line, Orgava. To gain a more in-depth look in Pusateri’s supreme aesthetic, check out her fashion blog at danni-p.com.
What inspires you? I like utilitarian. I personally wear a lot of men’s clothing. I like baggier fits, but that can still be sexy. There’s this German film student on Instagram whose style I just love. She goes by @majawyh.
She puts pieces together that no one would ever think would make sense, but she just has crazy style. Also, I don’t look at anything fashion related when I’m searching for inspiration. If you look at other designer’s work, you’ll subconsciously design what you’ve been seeing. I like to go outside of fashion for inspiration.
Do you feel as though you take inspiration from being here in Cleveland? Yeah, for sure. I can’t always afford to travel, so my boyfriend and I always like to check out the really cool thrift stores here in Cleveland. We just went to Flower Child yesterday, and to Sweet Lorain. I run a blog, so I’m always trying to find cool places around the city to shoot the photos.
What kind of impact would you like to make on the local fashion scene? It’s always the same thing here. You see girls all dressed pretty much the same. I feel like the men are a little bit further in the fashion scene here. I want to be able to inspire people to be more creative with their looks and more comfortable with trying new things.
What would you like to see more of on the local fashion front? I just want people to not be afraid of fashion, and to be more adventurous. Just put it on. People around here should have more confidence. If you like it, wear it.
You’re designing for other lines currently. However, if you were to start your own line, what could people expect? Lately, I’ve been leaning more towards women’s wear. I like men’s wear, and my style is very androgynous, so it’s always been easy for me to flip-flop between the two. Definitely, women’s wear first. I like men’s wear, but it’s just more expensive to make.
Take us through your design process. First, I definitely research. Even though I don’t like to look at what other designer’s are doing when I’m working, it is important to know what’s going on and what the trends are—take a few that you like and then incorporate them in your own way. I have to find my inspiration before I even start designing. I won’t even sketch anything until I’m sure of what the inspiration is. Then, I find the fabrics I want and order the swatches offline. It sucks that in Cleveland we don’t have any really good fabric stores. Jo-Ann Fabric sucks. Then I move onto drawing, painting, and rendering my figures. Next I do the muslins on the figure, and finally get to actually making the piece: the fun part.
Jevon Terance, named after its creator, is the chic, yet edgy fashion-forward line out of Lorain, Ohio. Growing up, Terance was more about the basketball court than the runway, but he took a drastic turn when he began to learn the art of sewing. Taking most of his inspiration from the legendary Air Jordan sneakers, Terance began creating elegant women’s and men’s pieces based off of the shoe. He currently owns and operates a boutique in the heart of Lorain right next door to the historical Lorain Palace Theatre. With over 200 runway shows and a showing at Paris Fashion Week in 2015 under his black, leather belt, Jevon Terance is a local fashion force to be reckoned with.
Tell us about the Jevon Terance brand? My brand started in 2007. I design both women’s and men’s clothing, which most designers don’t do. It’s really cool for me because it makes me more diverse. My pieces are everyday wear on a high-end scale.
What makes your brand unique? Like I said, being a women’s and men’s line, I feel, makes me unique. Also, I have a good eye for prints and different fabrics. I like to take challenges with working with different fabrics. A lot of designers don’t like to change the settings on their machines, so they’ll work with just knits or cottons. I like to show those diverse fabrics and go searching for different things. I also design my own fabrics and patterns, so my pieces are definitely one of a kind.
What inspires you? I actually got into fashion through basketball. I used to sketch sneaker designs in elementary school, so I kept up with that. You know, I love Michael Jordan and I wanted to work for Nike. After high school, I moved to San Diego and fell in love with fashion there— everything was a little more high-end than where I had come from—so I started teaching myself how to sew. The Jordans still inspire me. I design a lot of my dresses based off of those shoes. When the Jordans drop, people know the exact date and they’ll wait out in the cold to get a pair. I call it the “Jordan Effect.” I want to have that for my line.
How do you see yourself in the world of fashion? People don’t usually put two and two together that I make glam dresses. I really love when I’m networking with people and telling them that I make dresses and men’s wear because, being here in Ohio, people just assume you make T-shirts, which is fine, but you know, I’m doing some real stuff: buying fabric, cutting, and sewing. I love that I surprise people.
What are your thoughts on the local fashion scene? I like what’s going on here. I like Yellowcake and ILTHY. ILTHY inspires me to make better T-shirt designs for my T-shirt line. Anyway, I think Cleveland is really good. A lot of people count us out, but we’re so close to New York. There’s always something going on with fashion, especially when it starts to warm up.
What’s next for you? I’m building my next big show, which will be called from “Lorain to Paris.” I had to do a collection based off my visit to Paris. I’m working on doing maybe another Fashion Week in the fall. Just more branding, branding, and branding…
Dawn Fox is a personal-style trailblazer and a walking work of art. A graduate of Virginia Marti College, she had hopes of opening a shop in Lakewood, but when those plans unfortunately fell through, she began to craft pieces on the side while working other odd jobs. She then took a job as a pattern maker for a local company, which allowed her to gain a lot of experience and to continue to harness her craft. However, she left the position after she began to feel stifled—as so many creatives do—and continued to work on her designs on the side. She’s made custom dresses for friends and family, such as her sister-in-law’s wedding gown. She now puts all of her design efforts into her own Etsy store, which features one-of-a-kind accessories and designs. You can follow her on Instagram at @fuchsshoppe and shop her Etsy store at etsy.com/shop/FuchsShoppe.
Tell us about your designs. My designs are heavily influenced by a lot vintage. I like men’s wear, such as military pieces and cowboy-inspired looks, for the ladies, but with a twist. I want to make sure it’s still feminine. Very vintage inspired, because I like the handmade look. Back when people used to make their own clothes, I think the imperfections of handmade made it look more quality versus now when items are mass produced. They just look cheap to me and lack character. I try to stick with things that I like. I have a weird style, and I like to mix a lot of different pieces.
Do you feel as though you take any inspiration from being here in Cleveland? Um, yes. I mean, I definitely get more inspired to get my ideas out there because I feel they’re so different from what you see in Cleveland. The city itself, I know, is not high fashion and people sometimes will look at you weird if you wear something that’s even a little out there and creative. So, it does inspire me to get my pieces out into these kinds of areas in hopes that people will at least be willing to try it out.
What are your thoughts on the local fashion scene? You don’t see a whole lot of unique styles. I do definitely appreciate that the Cleveland area does have a lot of vintage shops. I love that. I meet a lot of people that either buy vintage or they have their own stores. I think that there’s a lot of hidden talent here. I know people from going to school at Virginia Marti that have some really great ideas; it’s just a lot of Cleveland fashion goes back to the basics. You know, they sure do love their T-shirts. It’d just be cool to see more people venture out of the box.
What would you like to see more of on the local fashion front? I always like that when you look at old photos or movies, you see the men all in suits. The women are all in dresses. I know that it’ll never be like that again, but I think it would be cool if people could tie more things like that into their daily wardrobe—something as small as even wearing a skirt with a T-shirt or combining those ideas. Anything to look a little more classic and classy and get everyone out of those PJ pants. It would also be great to see more fashion shows. I know there’s Cleveland Fashion Week and other events, but even a small show in a storefront, or to throw a show for a good cause.