Mitten State, Meet Mainstream Fashion
Out here in Michigan, we don't have the privilege of having a Mango or Zara or TopShop. We have a handful of Nordstroms and Anthropologies, but that's about as high end as it gets out here in the mitten state. I grew up in Detroit until I was about 5, then moved north about an hour to a little town called Chesterfield. I attended college in Flint, MI and co-op'ed in the Novi/Livonia/Farmington Hills area. After college I moved out to Grand Rapids on the west side of the state for a job and that's where I've been since. West Michigan is where I call home now, but I've been around enough to notice such a difference in demographics, style and personality that I thought it'd be fun to match parts of the state I call home to stores that I think would do well there.
Between the violence, struggling economy and recent water crisis, not much good news is coming out of the city. However unfortunate the city may be, it has a rich manufacturing history and is home to one of the best engineering schools in the state (my alma mater, Kettering University). If anything, the people of Flint are fighters (whether literally or figuratively). This is a place you could really embrace hip hop style and push the limits of self expression since really, anything goes here. TopShop would do well here. It's young at heart and has enough attitude to really give a wardrobe the kick in the pants it needs.
Novi, Farmington and Farmington Hills, MI
I lived in this area for a number of years off and on while I co-op'd at General Motors and this area is so nice. Great shopping at Somerset Collection in Troy, MI and Twelve Oaks in Novi, MI is available, tons of restaurants, bars and entertainment are around, and it's only about a half hour drive to downtown Detroit to watch the Wings, Tigers or Lions play. We were definitely never bored here. Since this area already has so much great shopping and at least when I was there, was quite chock-full of young professionals who actually cared about style, I thought it would be nice for them to have a Theory store.
Detroit has gotten such a bad reputation since the recent recession both from violence and corrupt government. The streets are quickly coming back to life though. Quicken Loans and several other key game changers are cleaning up and re-inventing the city. High class restaurants, cultural events galore and new business offices large and small are popping up all over town. I've seen Detroit when it was safe enough to play in our street, when it was scary enough to risk running out of gas rather than stop and now, as a city that has had some new life breathed into it. When you visit certain parts of downtown Detroit, it's hard not to notice see the city slowly getting a modern makeover with a refreshing bit of style. For that reason, I could really see a comparable aesthetic in Zara's clothing. They've had their own share of controversy over ethics, as has Detroit, so it would be a nice start over together.
Grand Rapids, MI
I love this side of the state. People drive slower, open doors more often ...and dress up...never. Whether you're seeing the Grand Rapids Symphony or going to a nice wedding, there will ALWAYS be somebody wearing jeans. If you look for it, you'll find the style in West Michigan, it is just much more laid back and natural than our counterparts on the east side of the state. Rather than a pound of mascara and winged liner, you see a large portion of women baring natural faces and simple jewelry. The blondes out here, thanks to our largely Dutch population, come in an assortment of beautiful (and natural) platinums and golds rather than that big bird yellow color you see so often on the east side. One of my favorite stores, and I think the hippies, hipster and beach bums out here would really enjoy having one is a Free People store.
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