Q&A: An Expert’s Opinion of Fashion in Fort Collins

Rae Reeves is a sophomore in the apparel and merchandising program at Colorado State University. Being part of a military family, she has traveled around a lot: from Montana to Colorado Springs, to St. Louis and Las Vegas, she saw it all before making Fort Collins her home. Rae is a member of Fashion Group International (FGI), a student organization on campus that offers a deeper look into the fashion industry. I spoke with Rae to get her expert opinion on what Fort Collins shopping has to offer.

Carvalho: What made you interested in the apparel and merchandising major here at CSU?

Reeves: I always kind of knew that I wanted to do apparel and merchandising as a major. When I was applying to colleges, though, I had a few choices in mind. After comparing the price, the quality, and the location, CSU seemed like the best option for me. After all, when I enrolled, CSU was rated #8 in the nation for apparel and merchandising, and it only keeps rising!

Carvalho: As someone who is studying fashion, I’m sure you love to shop and have a high standard for what you’re looking for. What is your opinion on the shops in Old Town?

Reeves: I love the spirit of shopping in old town. Everyone is very welcoming and happy to be there. I love that it isn’t necessarily chain stores and that there is a wide variety of interests. I actually work at Akinz, which is a boutique for beanies and t-shirts in Old Town. It isn’t necessarily my style, but it allows me to understand the target market of Old Town a little more. I think as a college student the shops can be pricey overall; however, for visitors and for locals in Fort Collins, money may not be an issue. I also think as a CSU student, many people appreciate items made sustainably, and I think the shops in Old Town reach that target market!

Carvalho: I’ve never been to Akinz — can you tell me more about it? How did you start working there?

Reeves: Akinz is a brand created by the owner Suzanne Akinz about 4 years ago. We make most of our beanies, scarves, and headbands in house using a vintage knitting machine. Therefore, anyone can make custom orders if desired! We also do all our t-shirt printing in house with screen prints. FGI sent out a message to all the members that Suzanne was looking to hire, and I got the job!

Carvalho: That sounds awesome, I’ll definitely have to check it out sometime! Where else do you like to shop in Fort Collins?

Reeves: I like to buy from Akinz because of the fact that I work there, and I love to support my owner because she has worked extremely hard to get where she is. I also love shopping at the thrift store! As a college student, I am on a tight budget and the thrift shop in Old Town has such a large variety! That’s my practical self talking, however; above my price limit, I love the store Sole Mates, Blue Harvest Apparel, Tula, and many other boutiques there! I love the selections they have, I just can’t afford them.

Carvalho: The thrift store! I have never even thought to shop there. What are some of your favorite thrift stores to shop at in town?

Reeves: I’m really a fan of the thrift store in Old Town, also Arc has some really nice things! Or Plato’s Closet; even though it’s not exactly a thrift store, Plato’s has a great selection because they only take specific items of clothing that are trending!

Carvalho: Some people may think of thrift stores as being dirty and gross — what would you say to those people?

Reeves: It’s funny you ask that because my mom says the same thing! The way I think of it, if you wash it before using it and don’t buy obviously dirty things, it’s not gross. Using the clothes from thrift stores is creating less waste for the environment! Thrift stores are great because you can find unique items and make them your own.

Carvalho: That’s a good point! Now, being the fashionista that you are, what does your dream job look like?

Reeves: Honestly, I have a few too many dream jobs. I would love to work for a trend forecasting company like WGSN or FashionSnoops! I think that would be the most incredible job. I also think it would be great to run fashion shows, trade shows, or markets. I think it is such a dream to be a part of the high fashion industry!

Carvalho: Those all sound pretty amazing! How do you think going to CSU and working in Old Town will help you get to those goals?

Reeves: I think going to CSU will definitely help reach my goals because I am given a lot of opportunities here. In my major, my last semester of senior year I am privileged to get 12 credits to go do an internship anywhere I want (or can)! This is really different from a lot of other people at CSU. My professors are just really encouraging to travel and to make the best of everything. They don’t just teach me out of a textbook, they really teach us life skills. I believe working at Akinz will really help me as well because I have gained a lot of customer service experience, I have done a lot of product development, I have gained a lot of connections, and more than anything, any retail experience at all really helps allow companies in my field to want to hire me.

There you have it, folks! If you haven’t already, go ahead and add Akinz and some of those thrift stores to your list of places to go; if you need a shopping buddy, hit me up. To other fashion guys and gals out there — check out the CSU design and merchandising website! Fort Collins and CSU have a lot to offer us fashion lovers, so don’t miss out on any opportunities! If you want to know more about Rae and keep up with her stylish life, follow her on Instagram.