The time is nigh to acknowledge the truth that fashion-forward ladies of Minneapolis have it pretty easy. The profusion of local women’s ready-to-wear designers makes for both a steady string of runway shows and also no small amount of boutiques catered solely to the female consumer. What woman hasn’t lusted over the perfect Arwyn Birch or Amanda Christine dress in the window of Cliché?
Sure it’s lovely for us, but we forget the men. Do they, too, not deserve the satisfaction of donning local duds, of flaunting the trendiest designers, of feeling hip? If we dress them, do they not impress? The designers for dudes may be few. They also may operate somewhat under the radar, but they do exist. So fear not, men. In the world of local fashion, you are not the second sex, and A&E graciously sat down to talk style with two fresh University of Minnesota menswear designers to pull you out of the dark.
Kelly Ver Duin
Though she’s just successfully made it through all the intensity of helping to coordinate the University senior fashion show, “Distortion,” Kelly Ver Duin is hardly coasting on a plateau of inactivity. She’s been invited to partake in her first big Minneapolis runway show, Ignite’s “Envision.”
“I feel in over my head, but I’m excited,” Ver Duin said. “It was good to experience the senior show before doing this.”
Sparking an initial interest in design after taking courses in high school, she ended up securing a spot in the design program here at the University.
Though the program focuses heavily on designing for women, Ver Duin has always held an interest in menswear and was able to make her first attempts with her recent senior line. As a menswear debut, the line showed incredible promise for the young designer.
Show-goers were especially drooling over her sophisticated, side-zipped jacket with a gathered neckline. Centered upon sturdier fabrics and cool colors, Ver Duin reinterprets classic forms of men’s clothing by adding her own stylistic flair.
“I like things that are cozy but interesting,” Ver Duin said. “Though there has to be utilitarian appeal.”
Breaching the surface of the cool kids club that is Minneapolis fashion is no easy feat, and with her invitation to “Envision,” Ver Duin could very well be headed in the direction of a prolific local runway life. For the sake of menswear, we sure hope so.
“I feel like there’s definitely a market for [menswear] in the Twin Cities,” Ver Duin said. “I’m hoping to fill in that space.”
Designer Allison Danzl didn’t always know that she wanted to design clothes for men.
“It was an abrupt shift right when I got in to school,” Danzl said. “The first big technical challenge was learning how to make patterns that fit men. It was a lot of trial and error.”
Inspired by the flawless clean tailoring of designers like Ermenegildo Zegna, Danzl prefers to keep her work simple but uses color to make things pop.
This spring, she’ll be partaking in several MNfashion Week events, most interestingly a show that features solar powered garments.
Though her plans for the long-term future reach toward the more corporate end of design (meaning, designing for a clothing company such as Urban Outfitters,) Danzl is happy to assist in putting local menswear on the map.
“I think that some people think that men just don’t care about fashion,” Danzl said. “They’re wrong.”
Thank her for not becoming a veterinarian, because if she’d have stuck with her initial career path, Minneapolis might not be privileged with the beauty of her men’s clothing.
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