Columbus is the capital of Ohio, but the city of 850,000 people is also making a name for itself as the Midwestern capital of style. With well-known retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch, Henri Bendel, Victoria’s Secret, DSW, Express and L Brands (which alone grossed $12.7 billion in sales last year) calling the city home, Columbus just might be America’s most fashionable city outside New York and Los Angeles.
When Amy Weirick, president of Weirick Communications, brought an association’s biannual meeting to Columbus in May, she wanted to immerse members in Columbus’ retail-focused culture. The team at the Columbus CVB helped create just the thing.
“We arranged a ‘farm-to-fashion’ experience with clothing designer Celeste Malvar-Stewart at her studio in Columbus’ historic German Village,” says Weirick. Malvar-Stewart walked them through the textile-making, dyeing and design processes; then each person chose a wool sheered at a local farm to make scarves.
“Our entire group—both men and women—loved it,” says Weirick. “It was creative and educational, and we all went home with a one-of-a-kind creation.”
Don’t have enough time to coordinate a group outing during your conference? Let them explore the fashion scene on their own by choosing event dates that coincide with one of Columbus’ major fashion events slated throughout the year, among them the Fashion Meets Music Festival in September. These—and many other fashion-related events—are open to the public and serve as built-in entertainment for visitors.
You can also hire transportation and make the two-hour drive to Kent State University Museum, where group tours can be arranged to view an extensive collection of textiles, designer clothing and costumes; or plan a visit to the Short North Arts District for lessons in applying makeup or to be fitted for custom-designed suits and dresses. In Columbus, it’s easy to help your group dress for success.
Image caption: Models style two pieces from Columbus-based couture fashion designer Celeste Malvar-Stewart's Local Collection.