On a concrete wall on the side of The Siren Hotel in Detroit are six lavender stripes enshrouding the words of poet Jessica Care Moore:
“The spirit of a fashionable city is felt
As soon as she walks in.
The spark lives inside the patterned faces
of her community.”
“Spirit, fashion, spark, community” capture the essence of the Motor City as it enters its 12th annual Detroit Month of Design, from September 1 to 30. Detroit has cemented itself as a design haven, becoming the first United States city to receive a UNESCO City of Design designation. And this fall, Italian fashion giant Gucci will be joining the fold. Down the street and around the corner from Care Moore’s mural, commissioned by Gucci Changemakers, is the fashion house’s first Detroit outpost. Gucci plans to honor its move to the Motor City with collaborations celebrating homegrown talent and design trailblazers, energizing the “spirit of a fashionable city” throughout September.
Though Gucci’s new storefront on Library Street will be its first brick-and-mortar establishment in Detroit, the brand and the city are already well acquainted. Gucci Changemakers North America, an initiative launched in March 2019, identified Detroit as one of its focus cities from the outset of the program, aiming to harness the city’s creativity to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in the fashion industry. Design Core, a 2020 Changemaker grant recipient, stewards Detroit Month of Design and has been at the forefront of Detroit’s design community since 2010, contributing 3,000 new jobs to the city.
To commemorate the opening of its new boutique, Gucci is turning to old friends: Detroit designer Tommey Walker, the mind behind the label DETROIT VS. EVERYBODY, will feature on Gucci’s sustainability-focused Off the Grid line. Custom DETROIT VS. EVERYBODY patches designed by Walker will feature on baseball hats, backpacks, and belt bags, sold exclusively at the Detroit storefront. Walker’s label aims to “unite the city of Detroit while politely flipping the bird to the rest of the world”—casting aside judgment, stereotypes, and doubt over the city’s future.
On September 8, Gucci Changemaker scholars and designers from Design Core will also be spotlit in a multimedia exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. As the brand becomes one of the first luxury houses to open a permanent shop in downtown Detroit, its local collaborations make the myriad reasons to do so ever more evident. Creativity is a core tenet of Detroit’s spirit, and unity with its community allows access to that power, and helps to strengthen it.