Prior to launching the first edition of Fashion Unites Columbus Underground (FUCU) last October, Doug “Douggert” Holland had zero experience putting on runway events.
“Everything I do, my tagline is I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Douggert, who will present at Roy G Biv in Franklinton on Saturday, April 8, featuring work from a half-dozen designers, including ARTFORBADKIDS, Holo Collective, FDZ graffiti, Easy Co, YOUCANLEAVEYOURBODY and Daniel Smith. “If I want to do something, I’m going to do some brief research, figure out the local players in the game, and then see who I can partner with to make this thing happen. Then I’m going to put together a team and we’re going to make the project come to life. So, I don’t need to have a broad depth of experience. I just need to know the people who do, and then to bring them together.”
Growing up with ADHD, Douggert said he was never short on ideas, generating so many concepts in his early 20s that he often felt paralyzed by them, unable to focus on a single vision long enough to bring it fully to reality. “And by the time I was 24, nothing was happening, and it scared the hell out of me,” he said. “I was like, ‘What if I die a nobody, with nobody knowing me?’ Or having all of this potential and never achieving it? And that scares the fuck out of me. I can’t die a nobody. ... So, I had to do something.”
A salesman by nature, Holland said he began to open a number of doors by simply extending a hand and introducing himself. “And it’s scary to say, ‘Hi, I’m Douggert,’ and just see where that conversation goes,” he said.
As a result of these introductions, Douggert has made a number of inroads in recent years. He started to DJ, formed an events company (HH Events), began booking concerts, and has even dabbled in studio photography. On the first Wednesday of every month, he also hosts a “beat battle” at in the Short North, inviting local producers to present beats tailored to specific criteria, with the winner determined by audience applause.
Douggert said the concept for FUCU struck him like a biblical vision during a visit to Tact Luxe, a Short North clothing boutique. “I smoked a joint with some friends, and we walked into the back room because they had a food pop-up,” he said. “And I was like, holy shit. And I looked around, and I could just see this runway show going down. And it was like, ‘I need to do this.’”
The inaugural FUCU took place during Columbus Fashion Week in October 2022, with Douggert capitalizing on a visiting audience that was primed for the runway experience. Rather than featuring known commodities, however, he sought out upstarts who had never shown on a runway, including at least one – , aka Tamara Joseph – who Douggert said struggled with the idea that she could even be considered a designer.
“She writes on clothes with a fabric marker, and I almost can’t describe it, but she almost does these schizophrenic drawings on the shirts,” he said. “I found her stuff on Instagram and I reached out like, ‘Please be on my show.’ … And she called me and said, ‘I don’t think I’m a designer. I do this stuff every once in a while for fun. Do you really think I’m good enough?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I think you’re good enough. Please be on my show.’ And it was the same with a lot of designers. Sometimes you just need a little bit of coaxing.”
Even in casual conversation, Douggert’s enthusiasm radiates. He’s stoked about the Columbus art scene and the musicians who make the city home. And he’s over-the-moon on the under-the-radar designers that he’s discovered since last fall, all of whom fall well outside the corporate fashion chains Douggert said most are quick to identify with Columbus.
“There are so many people who are dope as hell who have never shown their designs,” he said. “And maybe they’re just too nervous, or maybe nobody has said, ‘You have talent. I want you to be part of my team.’ … You see it starting to happen more and more, but not too many people are really gassing up the local scene. Not too many people are like, ‘Fuck yeah, Columbus, let’s go.’ … Let’s gas this shit up. We’re now larger than San Francisco. We’re on track to hit three million people by 2050, if not sooner. Columbus is going to be fucking massive, so let’s treat it as such. We are a big city, and if we don’t take charge of the art scene, it will be taken charge of by someone else. We as a community can decide where this goes, so let’s do it.”