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Ken's Picks: This Month, Our Fashion Director Ken Downing shares his love for the USA.


My life has always been a little unconventional. I've opted for the road less traveled—not always intentionally. My education, my career, and where I find myself in the world are often more happenstance than results of an elaborate scheme.

As a citizen of the world, I enjoy life's journeys and live like a local, no matter where I am on the map. "Go with the flow" may sound contrived, but it's often my motto. Foreign cultures are always of great interest, but nothing compares to coming home to the USA and rediscovering the land that I love. I suppose endless international travel makes the heart grow fonder, but I continue to be enchanted by the people, places, and unique personalities of American cities.

A Seattle native and fashion-educated in New York, I've called San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dallas my home. American cities where I've never lived, each with distinctive qualities, can be so seductive that they draw you in. Detroit is one such destination. This industrial giant has seen the best of times and endured the worst of times.

Today, Detroit has renewed self-confidence and optimism, with industry returning and institutions on the rebound. The city has pulled itself up by its bootstraps and is the talk of our nation and beyond. The pride of Detroit and its people is unparalleled! Restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops, and boutiques are again cropping up, bringing energy and enthusiasm to its streets. This new spirit of Detroit is best stated on a billboard sponsored by Shinola, a great company that took a risk in a city when many saw little hope: #saynicethings.

Yankee ingenuity and a can-do spirit are uniquely American—they're part of what makes this country great. I wonder what next American city is waiting to seduce me with its unexpected charms.

Celebrate your independence, America—you're truly like no other!

Ken Downing

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