Where the ‘Rust Belt’ Meets the Runway

At New York Fashion Week, a big metal bag made in the Midwest helped represent “female hysteria.”

During fashion week, we will be spotlighting the small details we saw on the runways that surprised or delighted us. Bring on the sculptural shoes and antique fork jewelry.

The designer Elena Velez splits her time between New York and Milwaukee. This alone is enough to make her unusual among the young designers showing at New York Fashion Week.

What is more unusual is how materials salvaged or made in the Great Lakes region are central to Ms. Velez’s designs, like repurposed sails, parachutes and steel. She grew up around waterways, raised by a single

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