DC Fashion Week Founder Ean Williams Puts District Style on the Map
May 1, 2023 @ 2:00pm
Williams provides insight on the upcoming trends for this summer.
We are spotlighting the myriad voices redefining what it means to be stylish in the nation’s capital — from designers and stylists to entrepreneurs and athletes whose unique stories and perspectives shape bold visions. Check out our full Curators of Style roundup in the May issue here.
Ean Williams got his start in fashion during his time in the military.
“While stationed in Italy, I grew to love the fashion there, and I started modeling on the local market and produced a fashion show right on base,” he recalls.
Eventually, Williams made his way to the DMV, where he broke into the modeling scene — also teaching students and putting on their graduation shows — before going on to start his own line, Corjor International, named for his kids, Cory and Jordan.
In 2004, Williams founded DC Fashion Week. Nearly two decades in, DC Fashion Week features emerging local designers and a showcase of international couture collections — and Williams has earned a name for himself as a bona fide D.C. fashion icon.
District Fray sat down with Williams to learn about how he got started, where D.C. fashion is going and what trends he’s seeing for summer.
District Fray: How would you describe your personal style?
Ean Williams: I like to do high-low. I may have a suit from a local custom designer, a shirt from Zara. I don’t skimp on shoes and belts though — they have to last. That’s what I tell clients: Invest in your shoes and purses.
What inspires your fashion line?
I’m a ’60s baby, so I’m very attracted to that era. For women’s wear, I always think about a wedding day. For most women, their wedding dress is their only custom look. I wanted to reimagine that experience for any special occasion, whether you’re going back for your high school reunion, you have a special date or you’re just doing it for yourself. The first thing I do to create cohesiveness for a new collection is draw up a common color palette. Lately, I’ve been really in love with pink and rose gold for both men and women. Or I’ll pick a texture, like lace or shimmer. But the most important thing is that I want it to look like luxury. I consider myself a red carpet designer. That said, I introduced a streetwear collection last year and it was met with pretty good success. It’s different because streetwear is really hot one year and the next, it’s completely abandoned.
Do trends cycle quickly in D.C.?
Trends cycle extremely fast here. One season, True Religion jeans are the thing. Next season, people will look at it like it’s a parasite. Same thing for a lot of streetwear labels. And now there are so many different labels, it’s hard to distinguish what’s the “it” fashion item now. So, now it’s really more about style — consumers aren’t so committed to a label.
Is the city getting more stylish?
It depends on what you’re involved in. D.C.’s focus is tourism and politics, which require a different kind of wardrobe. But all the big names, particularly the Fortune 500 of fashion — the Chanel, the Dior, the Valentino — you’ll see all of them here, and they’re selling. Maybe tourists are buying them, but Washingtonians are buying them too or they wouldn’t be here. I would say we’ve been stylish for quite a while in D.C., but now we have more publications covering it, more stores, more events, more social media sharing. It’s more visible.
What trends do you see for men’s fashion and style in D.C. this summer?
You’ll see a lot of vibrant color, and the palette won’t just be for one gender. That’ll be the big difference. You’ll see men wearing pastels and clothing not traditionally reserved for men. And different cuts — business suits will have a little more flair.
Is the city supportive of the fashion sector?
We’re super excited about the 202Creates initiative. D.C. is becoming a city where designers, makeup artists and other creatives can provide for themselves. It’s great that we have a city that can support the creative economy, and an administration that recognizes it. The nation’s capital has the potential to be in the Olympics of city fashion weeks.
To learn more about DC Fashion Week, visit dcfashionweek.org. Tickets for DC Fashion Week, held twice a year in February and September, go on sale on June 1. Follow Williams on Instagram at
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