11 Stylish Philadelphians Who Are Stepping Up the City’s Fashion Reputation
Meet Philly’s new scions of style.
As Philly changes, so does the way we dress. Meet 11 members of our thriving creative class who are reshaping Philadelphia fashion and its rep.
47, owner of Bryn Mawr’s Kirna Zabête
I knew there was a void in the Philly market … when I would show up at school drop-off and people would be like, Oh my God, what is that!? How do I get that!? My other stores are in … Soho, Palm Beach and East Hampton. The best part of Philly style vs. New York style … is that in New York, people are so jaded. They’ve seen it all and done it all. Here, I find more joy. I feel most like myself in … a printed dress, flat sandals and a straw bag. It’s my Southern roots.
Rick and Ky Cao
38 and 37, owners of South Street’s Ps & Qs
We started with … menswear store Abakus Takeout in Chinatown. Chinatown wasn’t known for retail, but we’re all about going against the grain. [Ky] Ps & Qs … represents streetwear culture, but it’s a more timeless brand. [Rick] Philly style 20 years ago was … Dickies, Timberland boots and big white t-shirts. Now, you can’t really pinpoint who’s from here, because we have so many different types of people. It’s amazing. [Rick] I always tell young men … to get yourself a nice top coat. If you’re wearing something bright, something long balances the craziness with more sophistication. [Rick] I love … old Will Smith. He was wild and didn’t care. The colors were great. [Ky]
29, owner of Fishtown’s Downerss
After high school … I lived on a kibbutz in Israel. Throwing myself into a place where I knew no one, I really found myself. When I came back, it totally transitioned into my wardrobe. When Philly Mag named Downerss “Best Shop for Millennials” last year … I came to see how others view the term, but I don’t have a negative association with the word. I think we’re an empowering generation paving a new path. My signature pieces … are a distressed pair of oversize Levi’s and chunky-heeled combat boots with mesh socks.
35, Queen Village-based artist, pictured with her children
My latest project … is illustrations for a children’s book, Being Edie Is Hard Today. It comes out in May. I’ve always loved … big earrings. I’ve got big hair, so maybe that’s necessary. The biggest misconception about dressing well as a mother … is that it’s somehow vain or selfish or shows a lack of involvement with your kids. The right outfit makes me feel … clear-headed, creative and poised. My biggest influences are … Amelia Earhart and 1970s Cher. Those two are completely antithetical, but I need both. I would never wear … Uggs. Or Crocs.
I’m originally from … Japan. If there’s a trend there, that’s all everybody’s wearing. Philly, and America in general, is more free. They wear whatever they want here. I don’t think of myself … as too girly or too sweet. I’m more handsome, more modern. I wear all my bottoms … high-waisted. I’m five-foot-one, and I want to look taller. The most meaningful items in my closet … are the designer pieces from my grandmother. She’s why I love fashion. For spring, I’m buying … more suits.
Sabir M. Peele
32, blogger and style consultant at Men’s Style Pro
I love men’s style … but I’m not a fashion person. I’m not gonna wear a clear cellophane jacket just because that’s the wave. What I do resonates … because I teach people how to get the most out of their stuff. I could take one suit, break it up, and wear it every day. You can’t tell Philly people … how to dress. You can go to New York, say this is the vibe, and they’ll do it, but in Philly, the vibe is created by the people. The most meaningful piece I own … is my David Yurman bee pinkie ring. If you look up “Peele family crest,” all iterations have a bumblebee on it. The motto is “Industria.” We’re workers.
29, founder of Milano Di Rouge clothing
I come from … Mantua. So much crime, a lot of it doesn’t even make the news. I didn’t really see … too many women making things happen. I just wanted to prove that I can do it. I don’t just sell clothes … I sell the message. The message is that drugs aren’t the only way to eat. The new hustler is the entrepreneur. I’m the new hustler. You’ve seen my designs on … Meek Mill, Keke Palmer, Rick Ross and Diddy. You can really chic up … sweatpants. Put them on with a bodysuit, a fur, add high heels. People don’t realize … Philly is a fashion city. We’re all about looking good regardless of how much money we’ve got in our pocket.
27, e-commerce marketing manager; blogger at Lark & Lace
I love … Serge Gainsbourg and all his muses. That big hair, the winged eyeliner, that fitted-but-loose denim … it’s something I’ve always gravitated towards. Philly is … definitely an “I’m going to do my own thing” kind of city in terms of style. Body positivity … is a big thing for me. I can remember putting on a pair of jeans in middle school and crying because I didn’t look like Britney Spears. My proudest fashion moments … are when I defy society’s expectations of what women should look like in a backless dress and just wear the fucking dress.
Tuesday Gordon Gaines
60, manager/buyer at Rittenhouse’s Joan Shepp
I’ve been on the floor at Shepp … for 20 years. My favorite designer … is Dries Van Noten. A hat … can change your whole look. People treat you differently: Men will open doors; people young and old will smile at you. Color … makes me happy. When I started at Shepp, I said to Joan, “I cannot be creative in black.” I’m a woman of color, and I have to wear color. I think Philadelphia … is growing tremendously. I see a lot of diversity and openness to ideas. Even in the store, we have more unisex clothes.
Edward Gieda III
I dress … according to what I listen to when I work out. I started running marathons … six years ago. I’ve clocked in 12 so far. Subsequently I’ve become this tattooed running guy that everybody in the city kind of knows. My look is … an amalgamation of musical subcultures. I love the ’60s and ’70s, the Mods and Rude Boys and punk rockers, especially David Bowie and Iggy Pop. My big fashion moment was … the photo shoot I did for Diadora. The ad is on bus stops and down at Philadelphia Runner. Philadelphia style is … a working-class and utilitarian take on fashion. I think it’s going to be a long, long time before Philadelphia shakes that identity.