London, Paris, Atlanta? Meet the surprising new fashion capital
At a Cities Without Houses panel, ANT/DOTE founder Lauren Amos discusses the growing style scene in the city
Thursday 13 October 2022 By Tai Saint-Louis
If you don’t think Atlanta is a high-fashion city, ANT/DOTE founder Lauren Amos says it’s time to look again. ‘Atlanta’s changed so much in the time that I’ve been here,’ she says. Amos’s first foray into the retail space was Wish, which has become one of the premiere destinations for sneaker culture and high-end streetwear. At its inception, she recalls having to fight to get the fashion industry to recognise this as a market worth paying attention to.
‘People here are taking up space and taking more risks than in other cities,’ she explains. ‘Whenever you walk around, you see people that want to express themselves creatively.’ In addition to Wish, Amos is the founder of ANT/DOTE, one of the city’s only destinations for high-end fashion, which played host to a recent discussion about the state of Atlanta fashion, curated by Soho House. She says that her experience in the retail space has been that people here are in search of pieces that will both make them feel good and help them stand out. And that, as consumers and creators, Atlantans are much more sophisticated and aware than many might imagine.
Asked to define the city’s aesthetic, all of the panellists leading the conversation agreed that there simply isn’t a single ‘look’. Jason Geter, owner of menswear line Vintage Heavy, credits the heavy presence of transplants from other regions of the world. ‘With fashion, where we’re from, how we grew up, the things we were defines how we move,’ he says. ‘That’s why you can look in a crowd here and see so many different colours and personalities.’ He describes these transplants as ‘seasoning sprinkled on top of the foundation’ created by Atlanta natives.
While celebrating all that is great about the fashion community here, the discussion also turned to the challenges that are slowing its growth. One, quite simply, is the fact that Atlanta is not generally a walkable city. ‘We’re not seeing each other on the street all the time,’ says Gallerie 88 founder Alex Delotch Davis. ‘So you miss the opportunity to be inspired and to see what [others are] doing.’ Stylist Metta Conchetta, echoes that sentiment, saying that it often takes attending events like Art Basel and NYFW for Atlanta’s fashion influencers to truly shine.
‘We fashion people don’t really have an outlet or a platform here in Atlanta to come together, like at Soho [House],’ adds Conchetta, who settled in the Atlanta metro after relocating to Los Angeles from her native Dusseldorf, Germany. From the standpoint of the designers and creators, there is also a lack of resources and infrastructure to contend with. ‘Atlanta has all the ingredients to be successful,’ says O Studio Design founder El Lewis, pointing to the proximity to major seaports, access to raw resources thanks to the region’s agricultural industry, and the abundance of real estate available for future manufacturing spaces as some of the city’s benefits.
‘The talent is here, whether you’re recruiting from UGA, SCAD, Clark-Atlanta, or even Georgia Tech and Georgia State, as fashion and tech become more intertwined,’ continues Conchetta. ‘There isn’t a pipeline to success if you’re interested in fashion here. This city lacks infrastructure and selfless leadership.’
The good news is that Atlanta is full of people who are willing to do the work to elevate the fashion community. El points to Atlanta Fashion Week founder Angela Watts, for example. “She laid a foundation that a lot of people have been too intimidated to do,” he says. “And she’s been very consistent with that, which has started to attract other organizations and bigger players in the fashion world.”
In addition to Lauren having created a space for the fashion to live, Jason is working on a space that will allow creatives to come together and inspire each other, like his Strivers Row storefront once did for the likes of Lil’ Yachty. “Great collaborations have come from fashion lovers congregating in the same spaces. That’s powerful,” he says.
And as Alex reminded the crowd at our event, while Atlanta has established itself in the entertainment industry, Atlanta’s fashion scene is still growing. And doing so as it does everything else: at its own pace.Learn more about Cities Without Houses Here.