The rise of fashion in Pittsburgh

by E. Gaines

Out of the shadows of a vibrant fashion scene that thrived a few decades ago, fashion in Pittsburgh is officially back!

Upon our arrival to Pittsburgh about ten years ago, there was not much electricity or spark when it came to the fashion community. There was a presence from recognized former models and people of fashion that included Debbie Norrell, Michelle Goodman, Bill Neal and others that were still bearing fashion fruitage. The Talent Agencies of trade in town were The Talent Group and Docherty.

(Model Nicole Hines,Photo by Emage, Design by Lana Neumeyer)

The New Pittsburgh Courier regularly covered the Ebony Fashion Show along with other events that included fashion. The Pittsburgh City Paper and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review had fashion supplements, Lamont Jones Jr. was the fashion editor at the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette and Demeatria Boccella had an awesome ethnic show each year with Fashion Africana.

That was all that was on our radar ten years ago. Two years later, about 2005, Emage Models expanded here from Cleveland integrating into the community the spark of modeling as an option and opportunity. In 2008 ONE FASHION PLACE was launched…and now in 2012 the fashion scene in Pittsburgh has fully arrived.

Some of the fashion notables in Pittsburgh on our radar now (in addition to the names previously mentioned) include Myoshi Anderson, Michele Alexander, Terri Berceli and Wadria Taylor, to name a few. And this list will grow in the next six months.

Print publications on our radar that have risen in fashion include Maniac Magazine, Whirl Magazine, SoulPitt Quarterly, Pittsburgh magazine and we can’t forget Brotha Ash Productions, Ashley G. Woodson covers Pittsburgh-at-large.

Now the floodgates of fashion are open. Within the past five years or so with the advent of Pittsburgh Fashion Week, Pittsburgh Fashion’s Nite Out, Willie Gee’s Annual Fashion Show, Gwen’s Girl’s Annual Fashion Fundraiser, the Pittsburgh Steelers Annual Fashion Fundraisers (two), church fashion fundraisers, Battle of the Designers, and the many church fundraisers, there is a fashion event almost every weekend in Pittsburgh.

However remember folks, designs come from designers, thus of honorable mention are a few local designers who have stepped out to stake their claim namely Kiya Tomlin, Jazmin Jackson (JAMEEN), Desiree Parker (Laced Apparel), Armani Dolby (Armani Nejor Designs), Dawn Redman, and Malcolm Williams (Willie Gee’s Collections).

So what’s so big about fashion being vibrant in any city, or case in point Pittsburgh? Fashion is one of those industries that connects, attracts, creates and builds. Much like the bridal industry, which is sometimes looked at as a piece of the fashion industry pie, many businesses vend to feed it. Within the fashion realm you need textile/fabric manufacturers, hair stylists, makeup artists, shoes, fragrance designers, jewelers, accessories galore, and the list goes on. It generates merchandising to support the local economy. Fashion attracts everyone, why? Because in part, everyone wears clothing and why not feel good about yourself in the process by being fashionable and stylish when the occasion calls for it. Lastly, fashion encourages and supports creativity while creating and building entrepreneurs in the fashion realm, the City wins again.

So as the crowd cheers, Go Steelers…we add Go Fashionistas! And we look forward to the future of fashion in Pittsburgh.

(Reprinted from the November Issue of One Fashion Place. For more information contact E. Gaines at


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