Flint clothing entrepreneur planning his first fashion show in April

FLINT, Michigan -- Since Flint native Dustin Gaines launched his clothing brand, Elevate Exchange, in July of 2020, he’s been excited by the response both in Flint and beyond.


“The first week that I launched, I had orders from over 80 people,” said Gaines, 25. “I knew then and there that I could go somewhere with this.”


Since, he’s had orders from several states, including Texas, Tennessee, Florida, New York, Ohio, and Georgia. Right now, the clothing line features high quality t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts, but he’ll be introducing new items during his first annual Elevate Exchange Fashion Show from 8-10 p.m. on April 17 at the Ferris Wheel (615 S. Saginaw Street).


The show will feature Gaines unveiling some of his spring and summer items. He’ll also have other clothing brands participating and showing some of their looks off. The fashion show will include a musical performance by Detroit rapper Nuk and will be co-hosted by comedians Cheese Stixxs and Janky Lane.


Tickets are $30 each and available on EventBrite. There is a limited number for sale to follow indoor gathering capacity and social distancing guidelines. Masks are required.


Gaines hopes those in attendance will see his passion for fashion and clothes. He also noted that the fashion show will become a yearly event.


“Honestly, since I was a young’n, I’ve always had an eye for fashion,” he said. “I won ‘Best Dressed’ in high school and used to change clothes like three or four times per day. I have always just loved clothes.”


He also prides himself on the fact that Elevate Exchange uses high quality materials. That is in line with what he says is the main message of the brand -- to “just elevate your lifestyle and get the most out of life.”


Gaines, a Flint Northwestern graduate, said that his goals for his business include getting his clothing items into major retailers and fashion shows. He’s also planning to open a store located at 2020 Robert T. Longway Boulevard, near Mott Community College, later this month. He learned at a young age in the city to dream big and work to achieve those goals.


“It means a lot to be from Flint,” he said. “I’ve seen a little bit of everything. You just have to have that different mindset of always wanting more. My mindset has been like that since I was young.”

Learn more about Elevate Exchange on their website or Facebook or Instagram pages.

Read more articles by Patrick Hayes.