A recent Reedy Press release, Ready to Wear, is not only showcasing how fashion has been woven into the fabric of St. Louis but also doing its part to support St. Louis’ fashion future.
“Reedy Press is being super generous,” says Susan Sherman, co-founder of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund and also the writer of the book’s foreword. “They are giving 25 percent of sales to the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, which I think is just the kindest thing in the world.”
The 224-page hardcover pictorial by Valerie Battle Kienzle starts the story in 1764 (when St. Louis was founded as a fur-trading village) and continues through the ebbs and flows of the fashion industry – garments and footwear, specifically – in St. Louis up to 2020.
“When I spoke to the publisher and writer, it was mostly about the history, which I find terribly intriguing, but not really about what’s going on today,” Sherman says. “With the Fashion Fund and young brands and boutiques popping up all over, I just felt like that story really needed to be told, so they were gracious enough to add a few pages.”
The pages in question hold contributions from St. Louis native and New York City-based fashion designer Elizabeth Giardina – among others.
“It really brings it up to the present,” Sherman says. “I have never written a foreword before, but what I said was there are still chapters to come, which means our work is just getting started. We are hoping to totally bring this business back here but in an entirely new and different way. … We already have the nuts and bolts. We have a few missing pieces, but we are working hard to make it whole again and bring in technology and sustainability and all the things that people are talking about today in fashion. We aren’t going back; we are moving forward. I think we are poised for fashion greatness.”
The book, which was released on May 1, confirms that this greatness has certainly been seen throughout history.
“It’s special because it places St. Louis as one of the fashion capitals of the world, which we talk about all the time,” Sherman says. “You can go to the Missouri History Museum and look up all these old photos and stories, but to have them all in one place is wonderful. We like to say that fashion is as important to the fabric of St. Louis as baseball and beer. Well, here you have it if anyone ever doubted it. The story is here.”
Reedy Press, 4677 McRee Ave., St. Louis, 314-833-6600, reedypress.com
Saint Louis Fashion Fund, 1533 Washington Ave, St. Louis, 314-400-9300, saintlouisfashionfund.org