Styleville, USA: Website ranks Nashville's fashion scene fourth in nation

Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 1:39pm

The Atlantic magazine’s Cities site proclaimed it: Nashville ranks fourth among the nation’s leading cities for fashion. Culled from data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the rankings looked at each region’s relative concentration of fashion industry occupations and the amount of employed and self-employed fashion designers in each area.

Nobody seemed surprised that New York and Los Angeles were ranked first and second, respectively, but Nashville’s fourth-place slot took many off guard. The article posited that Nashville ranked highly because it’s a music industry town: “The growing impetus for musicians to collaborate with fashion designers stems from the need to differentiate their products on the basis of something other than sound.”

While there may be some truth to that statement, it’s a little simplistic. Not only does it neglect us civilians — you know, the non-musicians — who fall on the more adventurous end of the sartorial scale, but it implies that the local music industry exemplifies what Nashville fashion is. If they’re looking in Taylor Swift’s closet, great! But if it’s Rascal Flatts’ wardrobe we’re talking about, we have a problem …

If you’re not sure what the local fashion scene is, The Belcourt Theatre’s nD Festival this Friday through Sunday is a good crash course. The nD Fest, which celebrates independent film, fashion and music, focuses on local talent and hosts a variety of parties, films and events, held at The Belcourt and area boutiques such as Imogene + Willie and Peter Nappi. The event is also a fundraiser that directly supports The Belcourt’s community education and engagement programs. The highlight of the fest, now in its third year, is the closing night fashion show and auction.

Last year, the festival committee paired designers with filmmakers and musicians, bringing three creative worlds together. For this year’s event, The Belcourt’s Cindy Wall explained, the focus is on something a little more egalitarian: Nashville street style.

“We wanted to broadcast a conviction that Nashville’s always had independent style, long before The New York Times and GQ told us we did,” Wall says. “If there’s any way to sum up that enduring style, it’s a sense of Nashvillians’ ability to do a ‘remix’ in how they dress — taking the best of what’s thought of as Southern, what’s thought of as country, what’s thought of as chic, what’s thought of as sporty — and making it work in our own, utterly unique way.”

Still confused on what Nashville style is? You’re not the only one. We asked people to tell us the first thing that popped in their head when we said “Nashville fashion,” and the answers — contained in this word cloud which measures the most responses — were all over the map. Let’s just say that we lie somewhere between “hipster” and “ornate jeans.”