On July 1, local fashion brand Hyde Closet and District Fray Magazine are partnering to bring to life an annual event — Hyde’s Designer Pitch will showcase emerging fashion designers and serve as a platform for helping young professionals in the DMV region take ownership of their personal style and more confidently dress for any occasion.
The event also will be presented in partnership with Georgetown Venture Labs.
During the inaugural event, models will present each designer’s fashion creations and business to three judges, Karen Videtic, Indira Gumarova and Robert Kinsler — a trio that strikes the balance of experience and perspective Hyde Closet coveted as it began dreaming up this event — who will crown a winner. The prize — an opportunity to insert their creations into Hyde Closet’s clothing rental inventory and introduce themselves to its broad, and growing, clientele base.
There’s a growing national trend of men seeking help to upgrade their wardrobe and experiment with their fashion choices. It’s opened the door for brands like Hyde Closet to step in to provide welcome guidance and streamline what can be a scary and uncertain process — defining, and constantly evolving, your personal brand to meet any moment.
For Hyde, its tagline “Rent the Clothes, Own the Look” is more than a gimmick. It’s meant to spark an enduring sense of empowerment for its community.
The Designer Pitch, a unique avenue through which the young brand aims to “pivot and grow,” is the brainchild of Hyde Closet’s Director of Content Strategy, Marie Gloss, who counts sketching and designing fashion looks and creating art among her hobbies. The idea first took root three months ago, when Hyde began partnering with Doncel Brown of Generation Typo — a collaboration that shifted their thinking regarding how and where they source their inventory.
“We realized how valuable it is to have these up and coming designers [available],” Gloss says. “It’s a win-win situation, because our clients are looking for new designs, new styles, so we’re providing that to them.”
But, in order to scale the idea, they needed to make a bigger splash. The Designer Pitch became a way to help designers find new markets and announce Hyde Closet’s arrival.
“It’s about staking a claim in the D.C. fashion world and saying ‘This is who we are, this is what we’re doing and this what we’re bringing to the table,’” Gloss asserts.
The “it” is, through its subscription service, seamlessly access professional styling, top luxury menswear brands and, hopefully, gain the confidence to navigate any environment — whether its a job interview, first date, concert, family gathering or otherwise. And maybe, they’ll be motivated to upgrade their wardrobe through buying luxury styles at a discounted price.
For Fray, the partnership also breaks new ground, while closely aligning with its mission. It represents the publication’s most intentional foray into the local fashion industry it’s spent years spotlighting. And DC Fray Founder and CEO and District Fray Magazine Publisher Robert Kinsler believes this is just the beginning of a partnership that will include other levers, including the roll out of regular co-branded personal style/care content.
“We believe in making fun possible and that it’s, in part, the result of how you look and feel, every day,” Kinsler says. “This partnership is a natural extension of our brand and a great opportunity to bring value to our readers. I’ve been on my own fashion journey in recent years and I’m excited to bring that unique perspective to my role as a judge.”
Gloss agrees that the partnership is a natural fit.
“It’s a really symbiotic, beautiful relationship,” Gloss says. “DC Fray is making fun possible, making experiences possible and, through our styling, we will make sure you look good no matter what DC Fray offers you to do.”
Alongside Kinsler, co-judges Karen Videtic and Indira Gumarova bring a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise.
A Professor Emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, Videtic spent 32 years teaching merchandising, mathematics and buying in VCU’s Fashion Department, during which she was appointed department chair, wrote a textbook on fashion buying and for 25 years, has produced the annual VCU Fashion Show. Prior to arriving at VCU, Videtic worked in product development at a major sales repping firm, which carried 12 clothing lines.
Videtic believes this event (and the Hyde Closet brand) represents the future of men’s perspectives on fashion. For generations, fashion and personal style were afterthoughts for most men. In contrast, she contends many women either inherited their fashion sense or were taught it at an early age.
Videtic acknowledges that women often learn from their mothers, peers, through perusing magazines and more. These habits are not, yet, as ingrained in men, but brands like Hyde Closet are shaking things up — and reaching men at critical life transition points to do it.
“Hyde Closet fills that education void,” Videtic says. “It says, ‘look, I know you want to be competent as you enter the world of work.’”
“[Through Hyde Closet], you have an advisor that’s going to help you and you also develop a sense of yourself. You order a box, you try it on, you wear it and then you get compliments.” You start to say ‘I like this. I like the way I look. I feel good. I need to try it again.’”
The confidence to jump in again and again is the goal.
“Clothing is so personal,” Videtic says. “It’s about your own personal style, but that takes time to understand and develop. Your personal style will change as you change, and as your job changes or your lifestyle.”
Co-judge Indira Gumarova agrees and offers sage advice for men on the art of cultivating your distinctive style.
“If you decide to pay attention to what you wear, remember the word harmony,” Gumarova says. “Tune yourself to color, to details, to perfect fitting and then people will remember you forever in the same way they would remember Rembrandt’s paintings.”
Gumarova is the founder of Diplomacy and Fashion, an organization with a mission to “promote designers from different countries around the world, advocate awareness to sustainable fashion and educate emerging diplomats and designers about the role of fashion in diplomacy.”
Diplomacy and Fashion is a vehicle for elevating the profile of D.C.’s fashion scene and “bolstering the reputation of the Czech Republic in the United States,” in a city that rests at the center of international diplomacy. Gumarova organizes fashion exhibits, shows, ballet shows and a First Fashion Gala in collaboration with 40 embassies in Washington.
Gumarova, who was recently nominated for an Emmy for her work on “The Pins of Madeleine Albright” for Best Documentary, believes the region has yet to fully embrace its station as a major fashion destination.
“When I started engaging fashion as a tool of diplomacy in Washington D.C., I honestly thought I [would] give up quickly. The main reason was because everyone was telling me there is no fashion in Washington. I need to go to New York or Los Angeles if I want to take it seriously. However, this narrative dramatically changed for me when I discovered, uncovered and learned that fashion as a niche is not missing in the US capital but just different. Is it as important as in New York, Miami or Los Angeles? Very much so.”
Right on cue, the region’s vibrant fashion industry will be on full display at the event.
“I’m really excited about the diversity of designs that we’re going to [show],” Gloss says. Some of the designers showcase mainly formal wear, [such as] suits for galas and Black Tie events; some designers have everything from casual to business casual; and some designers are going to be showing streetwear. We have a huge mix and I’m excited about that.”
Visit here to register to attend the July 1 Designer Pitch. Tickets are $25. 5-7 p.m. Event Location (Penthouse): 200 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC.