Along Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion, a historic shopping district on Livernois Avenue between McNichols and 8 Mile roads, construction is making it next to impossible to find a place to park near Three Thirteen, a boutique founded and curated by Clement “FAME” Brown that features all Detroit brands.
The months-long construction project is part of a city-sponsored effort to restore the Avenue of Fashion’s standing as a premier shopping destination, but it’s been tough on the district’s established businesses. Several closed for the duration of construction, and some have gone out of business altogether. Call it one of the growing pains of a changing city that only a few years ago was still reeling from a historic bankruptcy.
For Brown, a serial entrepreneur who got his start as a business owner at age six when his family lived in New York (he bought empty cans of pop for two cents from residents and returned them for five cents deposit), the mess outside just means that another opportunity is around the corner.
FAME’s boutique isn’t as much a retailer as it is a laboratory for budding fashion designers looking to make their mark in a city with a long legacy of creativity. They come here to collaborate and get advice. One of Three Thirteen’s vendors pops in with a set of custom Detroit Tigers and Lions hats, each bill modified with wood or faux gator skin, an upscale spin on the traditional baseball cap (one hat even sported the image of a pair of Cartier sunglasses, a nod to Detroiters’ love for the luxury brand). Another guy, an old friend of Brown’s, walks in with a box of T-shirts with “Believe in 313” printed on the front, hoping to sell them at Three Thirteen on consignment. Brown takes a quick scan of the merchandise, suggests a few design edits, and encourages him to come back.