“Tracy Reese comes home for a trunk show with DITNB”
By Jordan Moorhead | Contributing Fashion Blogger
Last Saturday was a busy afternoon in downtown Detroit; people were walking up and down Woodward Avenue where you will find the flagship store for Détroit Is The New Black. A tall black building with floor to ceiling windows out front, and a tall sculpture visible from the street – a first look at the type of art found inside the space. Traffic was steady, bringing in women and men to see what DITNB is all about – fashion, art, and culture.
Owner Roslyn Karamoko with Designer Tracy Reese
On this particular day, fashion designer and Detroit native Tracy Reese came in for a special event. They had her new collection out for sale as a trunk show, and Tracy was in the space from 2 pm – 5 pm for a meet and greet with fans, friends, and family. The owner of Détroit Is The New Black, Roslyn Karamoko, and her team had been planning this event for a few months. Karamoko wanted to hold something in the space to get back on the minds of the community.
Tracy Reese has been a staple in her store since the two met in 2014. “Since I’m in this space, I wanted to introduce her downtown. I think that’s important,” Karamoko said, “I hope they see homegrown talent, and what fostering that natural talent and that creative ability can do; bringing that talent back home and being able to serve the community and the people that she grew up around. To see someone of her caliber be able to come back to Woodward Avenue, which was originally the shopping district, that’s a powerful connection.”
Karamoko was able to catch Tracy while she was on a trip home, and it turned out to be perfect timing for an event. While Tracy does not live full time in Detroit, her family is still here, and she often comes home to visit. “I have a house here that I bought in January. I’m from Detroit, and I wanted to make sure I had a stake in the city as things are changing and growing. Before I had my house, I’d be home about three times a year, but now I’m trying to get home once a month,” Reese said.
While spending time in the city, Reese said she always feels amazing energy and love from her hometown. “Probably more than I deserve,” she said. It was clear at the event that people were excited to see Tracy. People walked in and went right to her, to say hello or even ask for advice.
Women she’s known for years came out to see her; Anita Alexander was one of them. Her mother had been Tracy’s fashion teacher, and Alexander explained that she’d known Tracy for many years and has seen Tracy’s collections during New York fashion week. “It was a cool experience to go there and see all of that,” Alexander said. After trying on a few pieces from the line, Alexander ultimately decided to get a beige lace crochet maxi dress, for a concert, she was attending later that night.
Patron Anita Alexander wearing Tracy Reese Spring 2017
The clothes that were a part of the new collection were great pieces for summer. They were light and airy with lots of lace, crochet, and chiffon all around.
“When I’m designing for summer, I like to keep everything light so that they don’t stick,” Reese said.
There were many floral patterns, in colors of blue, green and orange. Neutral staples like white, tan and black made up a lot of the collection as well. Aside from the very feminine florals and lace, there were some military inspired pieces with more of a structural focus. A big trend for summer is matching sets, and throughout the collection were matching tops and bottoms that would look great both together and separate.
DITNB also carries Plenty by Tracy Reese, a younger line that is more bohemian and brighter than the sophisticated and structural nature of the Tracy Reese collection. In that particular line was a chambray denim story that owner Roslyn personally enjoyed. “There’s a nice sort of wide leg palazzo pant that’s pretty fab,” she said.
Tracy describes the woman who wears her clothes as someone who loves color, patterns and has a bold personality. “I think it’s more of an attitude than anything else,” she said, “When I meet customers I find that they’re not wall flowers.”
The most notable addition to this new collection is the broader size range. Tracy’s spring collection is the first of hers that includes larger options. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Reese said. She explained that it had been a challenge getting retail stores to buy the large size runs because of available floor space for her brand, but with the endless space of online, it’s becoming easier.
“The customer doesn’t want to go to a plus size department. She wants to just go to the department that carries the brands that she likes, period,” she said. “Everybody wants to shop with their friends, if you’re a size 16 or 18 why do you have to go someplace different than your friends who are a size 10 or 4. That part is still developing, but hopefully, we’re going to get there. It’s starting, and customers just have to keep speaking up and telling stores what they want. Brick and mortar is a tough business right now, and I think stores are starting to listen more to what customers have to say,” Reese said.
Tracy’s mindset on the issue of plus sizes is very powerful, and she joins the growing number of brands who are extending their sizes and making more stylish options for all women. Roslyn has the same focus on inclusivity in her work. “Now being able to embrace the body with positivity and diversity in fashion is inspiring and powerful and she’s been inspiring us for a long time,” she said. “It’s a good synergy with what I’m doing here and the name she’s built in the industry.”
Roslyn uses Détroit Is the New Black to focus on all things Detroit – brands, designers and artists, and gives them a space to expose them to customers and bring awareness to the great things that are coming out of the city. She also characterizes the DITNB as merging fashion, art, and culture for a new experience.
“It’s an experiential and experimental platform for what works and what doesn’t in retail. This sort of low-risk opportunity for both parties to test what they’re doing and test the market and see how people respond. And so it is a chance for untapped talent or underrepresented designers, but also an opportunity for us as a brand to build that foundation and following for people who are interested in that sort of experience,” Karamoko said. Aside from the cut and sew basics that make up the Détroit Is The New Black, the store also carries Anna Sui and The lip bar which comes out of Detroit. She also has art installations from artist Leon Dickey, a Detroit native who created a collection of “thought provoking” sculptures. It’s important to Roslyn to include art in her space because she believes that fashion and art are one, but it’s not a belief that every customer has.
“Sometimes I wonder am I forcing this on people? Do people really care about this? I have this conversation with myself all the time, and I think some people care about it and some don’t,” she said, “but I think everyone can be moved, whether you care about fashion and art or not. When you experience something that you’ve never seen before in a way you’ve never seen it, it’s like wow I saw that, and that was something. And whatever that does, whatever it sparks in you, whatever emotion, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about feeling something, it’s about connecting in a way you never thought about, and it’s about the expansion of ideas and minds. I think fashion and art both do that well and anybody can appreciate that.”
Visit the 6,000 square foot space on Woodward Avenue to see the incredible Detroit talent shown through the clothes and art. DITNB holds events regularly in the space, everything from poetry readings to yoga classes as listed on their website (www.DITNB.com). Stop in to get a taste of this new contemporary retailer and an experience unlike any other.
Check out more of Tracy Reese @ (www.tracyreese.com)
All images by: Jordan Moorhead