Do it in Detroit

Welcome to Detroit, a town filled with dreamers and schemers who convert mental energy into real action. Even when we're on the verge of losing hope, when we look around and think it all sucks, we find something new to fight the funk. You start to hear some good stuff. A space gets redeveloped. Perky minds start plotting new strategies. Things get done. A party animates the night and keeps the vibe alive long into the morning. And then nothing seems better than to be a Detroiter, young, old or between.

Launch: The Rise of the Creative Class (Volume One) is a glimpse into what perpetually animated nights and days in the D might look like. It’s also the latest “little-fashion-event-that-could” from the ladies behind Motor City Sewing and Wound Menswear, “the Sarahs.” This time around though, the pair — whose past genius includes a runway show held on the Detroit People Mover — have joined forces with a few others who also know how to cheer up a city right.

“Initially, we wanted to throw a party in a loft space and tie in the whole urban living aspect,” says one half of Wound, Sarah Lurtz. “And it’s classier than doing it at a bar,” she jokes. But it was actually that half tongue-in-cheek sentiment that set the wheels in motion and eventually hooked them up with a dream space, FD Lofts in Eastern Market, for their next runway show.

LAUNCH is set to roll into the nearly completed lofts on May 11 to celebrate that urban living Lurtz chats up. But it's also to pat the Sarahs on the back for completing their very first manufactured clothing line, no easy feat to pull off as an independent label. The lofts themselves are the ideal venue to show off the Wound spring collection of basic, but signature, pieces that show the duo testing their skills at designing expressly for manufacturing.

Total urban energy  

FD Lofts are located on Russell and Erskine streets (right next door to Sala Thai) and formerly housed the Detroit Fire Department’s Repair Shop. After a major interior overhaul, it’s now home to a few dozen industrial lofts with unusual features like keyless entry and lots of crazy in-loft storage. One of the spaces even has a fully functional overhead winch hanging from the ceiling. But what probably makes the spaces most unique is that every unit is a rental, so all that’s needed to move in is your love of Detroit city, not a detailed amortization schedule. It’s also a place tailor-made for entrepreneurs, artists, and of course, clothing designers.

Loft Warehouse owner, Sabra Sanzotta, was responsible for making that initial connection between FD and the Sarahs. Now, she is one of the organizers who has been in on creating a larger scale event that, on top of the Wound ’07 spring collection, includes DJs, food and drink, and Camilo Pardo’s Ford GT-40.

“We want it (the event) to have that energy of what a rave was known for in the past,” says Sanzotta. “An impromptu location, different every time, with electronic music and total energy where people just come there to have fun.” And while, yes, of course, LAUNCH is not a rave, but a planned event with sponsors, tickets and promotions, symbolically it will kick off in the neighborhood where many a Detroit rave was held.

One of the major sponsors of the event, too, is committed to seeing that the right buzz is created for and at the event. Cintron, a new energy drink player on the market, will be everywhere at LAUNCH. And, while a sponsor laying its name and product on thick at the event they’re a part of is simply a given, what’s interesting about the Cintron/LAUNCH connection is the people behind its 16-ounce can.

Wes Wyatt, a former Teamster, Philly resident and Pittsburgh native isn’t your typical sponsor throwing gads of money at an event and then walking away with email addresses. A long-time fan boy of the city, he likens what he calls Detroit’s “potential and reformation” to a raising of the Titanic. Even cooler than his support of the city he used to haul steel to, is that he’s also just bought a residence at the Book Cadillac. Why? Because he’s so geeked about what he sees happening here. So all the buzz-in-a-can aside, what better person to up the energy ante here in Detroit than someone who envisions something greater can exist here than most of us homies do on a daily basis?

Believers and doers

It’s people like that — the ones who believe in something even when no one else does — who can really make any event or idea sparkle. And the LAUNCH circle of friends who are believers doesn’t stop with Wyatt. Designer Sean Bilovecky, the talent behind the modern, industrial Cleveland label, Wrath Arcane, is also excited to be a part of LAUNCH. He says that LAUNCH is about people actually doing something, and that Detroit, more than Cleveland, has always been really good when it comes to that. He also says that having that attitude is the only way to make something change.

And Bilovecky knows a lot about change. He paired up with the Sarahs in L.A. to try to get his line manufactured, but to no avail. That’s when the Motor City Sewing venture was born and he was one of the first compadres to say, heck yeah, to Midwest manufacturing. To him, the LAUNCH event will help grow awareness of domestic independent apparel, both in design and production. “Labels like Wrath Arcane and Wound, and factories like Motor City Sewing,” he says, “are needed now more than ever to show the world what is possible when your brand, or your company, is about more than just trends.”

Loft Warehouse's Sanzotta herself is pushing those kind of important messages almost as much as she’s peddling her lofts and downtown living. It’s the one-woman loft broker that keeps reminding everyone that LAUNCH is not a bunch of looks thrown together by boutique buyers, it’s a show by actual designers —some, like the Sarahs — who work three jobs just to put out their collections. It’s people who are not only tried-and-true professionals (as young as they may be), who are trying to add a level of legitimacy to fashion in Detroit (and beyond) and bring it to a caliber you don’t normally see.

And as hard as that task may be, Lurtz is pretty game for the challenge, although she approaches it with a sense of humor as well as enthusiasm. “Yes, we are part of the creative class and it is tough. It’s pretty exciting to be a part of it and hopefully it pays off someday," she says. "The city of Detroit is trying to use creativity as a way to promote itself and maybe this is the industry that can really push things ahead."

Believe it, girl. Do it.

LAUNCH happens May 11 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the FD Lofts in Eastern Market, 3434 Russell Street, Detroit. Featured designers include: Wound, Eugenia Paul, Michel Delon (both from Detroit), Lara Miller (Chicago), JUMA (Toronto), and Wrath Arcane (Cleveland). Tickets are available here or at the door for $25.

Jennifer Andrews is a Detroit-based dreamer and schemer and a regular contributor to Model D.


Sarah Lapinski and Sarah Lurtz of Wounded

Wounded Menswear Show on the People Mover

FD Lofts in Eastern Market

Launch Invitation Party

FD Lofts

Sabra Sanzotta of the Loft Warehouse

All Photographs Copyright Dave Krieger

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