Andrea Everett is a local fashion maven and entrepreneur who wants to help change what people envision when they think of fashion in Memphis.
“I’m proud to be from Memphis. Whenever I go to another city and I look cute and I say I’m from Memphis, they’re shocked. Why wouldn’t I be from Memphis? Changing that perception of what they think a Memphis girl is supposed to be, that’s what I want. I’m educated, I’m fly, and I don’t take any mess because that’s how I was brought up.”
Andrea doesn’t deny that the city has larger issues to tackle, but says that the conversation doesn’t have to be “Either-or,” it can be “Yes, and.” The “and” being that perhaps a thriving fashion culture can play a role in addressing some of those issues. “That’s going to prove how progressive we are. When people think of small cities, they don’t think of fashion. They think of dirt roads. We’re trying to push innovation in Memphis and we’re doing a lot to advance our city. We can’t leave that part out because, in any big city, fashion is prevalent.” Here’s Andrea’s take on the present and the potential, Q&A-style.
Is Memphis fashionable?
There are definitely fashionable people.
What do you think is the perception of style here when outsiders think of Memphis?
A lot of hardcore street wear, tight-fitting, cheap body-con dresses and cotton spandex outfits, stores catering to club wear. When people think of Memphis style, I think that’s what they’re thinking about.
What’s the reality?
They should be seeing women and men who are making style out of nothing. I find a lot of my pieces thrifted. That’s an integral part of my business, but before I made it a business, I would go into a thrift store to find pieces that I could make fashionable and mix and match with other things, and in a sense, I started to create my own style.
Memphis fashion is a grit and grind style. We hustle and we make it our own. That’s our culture. We don’t really dwell on what we don’t have.
I could say ‘We don’t have a Zara, we just recently got an H&M, oh well, we have American Apparel’…but people get creative in spite of it. Overall, it’s putting together our own looks to identify who we are, individually.
How do we grow a fashion culture here?
Local boutiques are the key–supporting what they have to bring to the table. Major brands won’t come if we’re not fostering our own fashion culture. That’s a key part of Memphis Fashion Week and what they’re doing by supporting emerging designers. And without the boutiques, we really won’t have anywhere to shop but online. When you shop online you’re not supporting your local economy. If we can’t put that money back into the city, we won’t continue to grow.
What are some of your favorite places to find great pieces?
- Found on Broad Ave. for all of your vintage needs! It has a massive section of amazing vintage t-shirts.
- Hoot + Louise (vintage pieces) – Used to be a storefront on South Main and has since moved online but some pieces can now be found in Found.
- Stock&Belle (South Main) if you want something chic and unique.
- Luxe Boutique (South Main) for fun & flirty going-out outfits.
- Collections, by T. Dish, an accessory retailer based out of Memphis but no storefront. Fly accessories.
Why do you think a fashion industry is possible for Memphis?
Geographically, we’re in the center of America. Brands should come to Memphis. There’s such a cultural aspect, too, with the music…who we are can feed into brands in a unique way. We have the resources as far as manufacturing and shipping, so many incentives going to companies, and rent is cheap.
I want to give people something else to think about when they think of Memphis. Young talented people are growing up and seeing clothes and companies on TV. Why can’t they stay here to pursue that?
They don’t stay here because families say, you need to move to New York to do that, you need to move to LA to do that. My answer is: No, I need to stay here and cultivate that in MY city. I can live comfortably here and appreciate my city. I’m still learning so much about Memphis–aspects that I never would have known. The city is so segregated sometimes. Fashion is something that culturally can bring us together.
Any closing thoughts?
If we start and we’re consistent, it has potential to be something really big, but we have to have something to present to brands. Why should companies come to Memphis if we’re not supporting our own emerging designers and boutiques? You have to invest in yourself before anyone else will invest in you, and I think the time is now.