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Opinion: Columbus paints itself as a fashion-forward city beyond the scarlet and gray of Ohio State

CMH Fashion Week, the official fashion week of Columbus, took place Oct. 6-12. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

CMH Fashion Week, the official fashion week of Columbus, took place Oct. 6-12.
Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

“Zooming In” is a weekly series in which Photo editor Shelby Lum provides her insight on pop culture.

Columbus, as hard as it tries, alas is still fighting for the national prestige of other cities across America. In conversation, a few specific names color what the city is — or what it is from an outside perspective. The Buckeyes, Jack Hanna and The Columbus Zoo, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, perpetually gray skies and the Buckeyes (yes, they are important enough to be named twice). Paints a pretty picture of football and cold weather, right?

The city musters on though, continuing to harbor hopes for grandeur. It’s a hidden gem of coffee shops, local boutiques with fashion finds and it’s beginning to make the maps for brewing local beer, but Columbus is still looking to beat out other cities for a name for itself.

And it has.

Somehow, Columbus isn’t as far off the radar for fashion as one might think. According to research analyzed by the Economic Modeling Specialists from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census’ American Community Survey, Columbus is the third most fashion-forward city in America, trailing only behind New York City and Los Angeles. When it comes to how fashionable men are, Columbus even has Los Angeles beat. Yes, according to SeekingMillionaire.com, Columbus men dress more savvy than L.A., and Columbus ranked at No. 9 for most fashionable men.

While I find the latter hard to believe with the superfluous amounts of Ohio State gear I see milling around campus, the decision was based on Columbus as a whole and not just the struggling students attempting to make it to class on time.

The Limited Brands (good ol’ Les Wexner, CEO of Limted Brands will never let us forget about his company), DSW, Astor & Black and Abercrombie & Fitch are all headquartered here in central Ohio, and the trickle down effect is likely in the works. If simple proximity wasn’t enough to infiltrate the city with new trends, Columbus works as a test market for many companies to use residents as guinea pigs. Restaurant chains test new menu items here and retail stores create different interiors to see reactions. If the lovely citizens of Central Ohio don’t like the product or food, odds are the rest of the country won’t either — or at least in theory.

Becoming a fashion destination isn’t just important to designers across the city. Having more fashion-forward men isn’t just a bonus for a better dressed city as a whole.

Having Columbus almost beat out New York and Los Angeles as a more fashion-forward city is making a name for a city that otherwise is mostly known for its football team and constant construction. While the city probably isn’t on its way to oust New York from its top position, and Columbus Fashion Week won’t be quite the icon that New York Fashion Week is, it’s a step to an identity.

Before moving to Columbus from Atlanta, my thoughts on the city stopped at the home of those delicious peanut butter and chocolate buckeye treats and the football team.

But now I know fashion in Columbus is more than just the scarlet and gray mesh jerseys seen Saturdays at Ohio Stadium.

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