Joe Faris is a season 5 alum of the popular reality show, Project Runway. Over his 30-year career he has designed for several high-profile fashion brands including Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, Donna Karen, Pelle Pelle, Double D Ranch, Schott NYC, and Kid Rock’s brand Made in Detroit. In 2009 Joe moved closer to his goal of a helping shine a spotlight on the garment industry in Metro Detroit by co-founding the stylish event, Fashion in Detroit. He has been a key figure in the advancement of the local apparel industry with the creation of Motor City Design Co., and his current label, Joe Faris™ Detroit.
Melissa Fleis is a graduate of Rogers City High School. After obtaining her BA from the University of Michigan, she later went on to pursue her MFA in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has studied under former Alexander McQueen advisor Simon Ungless, as well as apprenticed as a pattern-maker and cutter in Italy for fashion designer Alessandra Marchi. She placed third in season 10 of Project Runway, outlasting a dozen other designers to make it to the finals. One year later she returned to New York City to compete in the third season of Project Runway All Stars. The acclaim helped Melissa to start her own business initially creating custom leather jackets for private clients, and now also producing an American-made ready-to-wear line.
Robin Givhan a native Detroiter and was valedictorian at Renaissance High School in 1982. She got her Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Michigan. After working for the Detroit Free Press for about seven years, she held positions at the San Francisco Chronicle and Vogue magazine. She has been employed on and off with The Washington Post for more than 10 years, where she currently serves as the fashion editor. Robin won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the first such time for a fashion writer. The Pulitzer Committee explained its rationale by noting that she writes “witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism.”
Charketa Glover Fashion Designer Charketa “Char” Glover was born and raised in Detroit, in a home with her grandmother who was a fashion designer and seamstress. After high school, Char’s passion turned to designing clothes, and she began reconstructing vintage items into unique, one-of-a-kind creations. She was selected for season 13 of Project Runway where she reached the finals. She has created custom designs for women all over the world including celebrities like Keyshia Cole, Letoya Luckett, and Michelle Williams. She is currently serves as CEO and designer at RocknRemix.
Cynthia LaMaide is an artist and clothing designer who is inspired to enhance the body with the cut and construction of her one of a kind clothing. Her collections have been shown internationally in Paris and in New York. Cynthia has had the honor of exhibiting at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., and has designed unique character wardrobe while working as a costume designer on major motion pictures. Today, all clothing at LaMaide Designs is created and manufactured in Metro Detroit, and sold globally at boutiques and specialty retailers.
Tracy Reese is originally from Detroit, where she graduated from Cass Technical High School. She recalls making clothing from scratch while growing up, alongside her mother, while they worked sitting side-by-side at their own sewing machines. After graduating with an accelerated degree from the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York, Tracy worked under Martine Sitbon at the firm Arlequin. After stints at several top fashion design houses, she eventually became head of the Women’s Portfolio for Perry Ellis before launching her own label. The Tracy Reese fashion label was launched in 1998.
Luke Song was born in Seoul, Korea, but moved to the Detroit suburbs in 1982, where he graduated from Birmingham Seaholm High School. He first studied biochemistry, but eventually ended up studying fine arts at Parsons School of Design in New York City. Luke’s artistic career lead him eventually to Paris, France, but he found the art of hat-making during his journey back home to Michigan. Since 1982, Mr. Song Millinery, with its signature, high fashion headwear, has adorned women all over the world. Fellow Detroiter, Aretha Franklin, famously wore one of Song’s hats at the inauguration of Barack Obama. The now nicknamed “The Inaugural Hat” received worldwide media attention. In 2011 the piece was inducted into the Smithsonian Museum. The only identical replica of the hat is displayed currently at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
Anna Sui is another fashion designer from Detroit. At Paris Fashion Week in 1991, she received one of the first major breakthroughs of her career. On the way to the Jean Paul Gaultier show with her friend Steven Meisel, they stopped to pick up one of Steven’s friends and another Michigan native known only as Madonna. She surprised Anna by wearing her clothing to the event. The notoriety from that moment catapulted Anna Sui into the global fashion spotlight. The next year the designer opened her first retail location in New York City. Today, her brand includes several fashion lines, footwear, cosmetics, fragrances, eyewear, jewelry, accessories, home goods and a gifts line, that are available in 50 countries around the world. Anna has earned the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), joining the ranks of Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Diane von Furstenberg.
Kate Upton was born in St. Joseph, Michigan. Her uncle is U.S. Representative Fred Upton, and her great-grandfather, Frederick Upton, was co-founder of appliance manufacturer and marketer Whirlpool Corporation. Kate made her own name for herself as a supermodel. She was named the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Rookie of the Year following her appearance in the popular magazine in 2011. She went on to grace the cover in the 2012, 2013 and 2017 issues. She was also the subject of the 100th-anniversary Vanity Fair cover.
Daniel Vosovic was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and raised in the nearby city of Lowell. He graduated from Grand Rapids Community College before attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. He also received additional formal and on-the-job training at Gorland/Ittiere in London and through fashion seminars by Li Edelkoort in Florence, Milan, and Paris. The American fashion designer first gained national acclaim as a finalist in season 2 of the reality show Project Runway. He now serves as Founder and Creative Director at The Kit.
John Varvatos was born in Detroit and grew up in Allen Park. The Allen Park High alum got a job selling menswear at the Hughes & Hatcher store in Dearborn at the tender age of 16. He then attended Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. After graduating in 1980, he co-founded a Fitzgerald’s Men’s Store, in Grand Rapids. Varvatos joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1983, and then moved on to Calvin Klein in 1990. During his time at Calvin Klein, John pioneered a type of men’s undergarment called boxer briefs, a hybrid of boxer shorts and briefs. Made famous by a series of 1992 print ads featuring Mark Wahlberg, they have been called “one of the greatest apparel revolutions of the century.” In late 1999, Varvatos started his own company, debuting his first clothing line at the end of 2000 in New York. The brand now includes belts, handbags, footwear, eyewear, watches and fragrances. In 2015 he came home to Detroit to open a retail store on Woodward Avenue.
Veronica Webb is a model, born in the Motor City, who graduated from the Detroit Waldorf School. While studying design in New York City, she shifted gears and became a model. Eventually Veronica became a spokesmodel for Revlon, making her the first black supermodel to win an exclusive contract for a major cosmetics company. As a runway star she has modeled fashions from the collections of Azzedine Alaia, Isaac Mizrahi, Karl Lagerfeld, and Todd Oldham, as well as the infamous Victoria Secret show. Veronica has gone on to appear in movies like Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, served as co-host on Tim Gunn’s Guide To Style, and author Veronica Webb Sight: Adventures In The Big City, a collection of autobiographical essays published by Miramax Books.