Photo courtesy of Mohawk Press/WNY Book Arts Center
As if Buffalo, New York didn’t have enough to worry about with its struggling economy and tons of fat people and brutal winters, last year a website called Bundle.com named the city of 260,000 the “least fashionable city in America.” Bundle based this assessment on the percentage of households that bought goods from high-end designer merchants four times in a year—New York City and LA were near the top of the list, while Buffalo was near the bottom, even trailing the terrible-looking trolls who inhabit Jacksonville, Florida and Louisville, Kentucky. Understandably, this pissed off Buffalo’s more stylish residents and business owners, who are sick and tired of hearing about how their hometown is inhabited by nothing but mouth-breathing, obese, Zubaz-wearing, unemployed rubes. To get their take on the matter, I spoke with Erin Habes, a Buffalonian who returned to her hometown in 2005 after a stint as a sales rep for high-end footwear. Shortly after moving back, Erin founded her own clothing store, began producing one of the city’s biggest annual fashion events, and was called “Buffalo’s premiere fashion maven” by Buffalo Spree magazine. So I figured she’d be a good judge of whether or not everyone in Buffalo dresses like a slob.
VICE: How badly do people really dress in Buffalo? Like, do they even know how to put on pants?
Erin Habes: Any city has its fashionable community and then has the average community that wears flannels and PJ bottoms and scrunchies in their hair. I think that there’s a healthy mix of individuals here who know how to dress. When I came back after being in New York City, it was definitely a struggle owning my own store. I like to think that I was really ahead of my time in terms of the fashion products that I had. It’s a completely different environment now; all my friends who have their own stores are doing unbelievably. Buffalo loves supporting its own.
Were these fashionable Buffalonians angry about the Bundle.com ranking?
Yeah! We always end up at the bottom of every single list and survey like that. People were pissed off and were using choice words. But they based it off of how many people were purchasing products from high-end, top designers, which is kind of funny considering the economic state that our country is in.
If you gathered all the Buffalonians together, what fashion advice would you give them?
Dress appropriately for your body type. A lot of times, women and men are very misguided. They’re putting together outfits and they’ve got it going on, but sometimes someone should tell them, “You know, that’s a little too tight, you shouldn’t be showing off too much.”
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