Friday, May 13, 2011

Seattle Fashion Week 2011: Both Luxe & Local

Lastnight I attended the Press Party for Seattle Fashion Week 2011 (SFW) at Copper Cart Cafe in Seattle. This wonderful “series of high-energy events” takes place in late Spring each year. I’ve worked with Seattle Fashion Week in a completely different capacity in my former life as a not so top model but this time I was able to purely be an observer. I obtained my press pass, showed up
and took in all the fashion, networking , and enjoyment that filled the air. Having seen the workings of the fashion world from the inside and out, I was eager to hear what local fashion professionals and experts had to say about Seattle Fashion and understand how it all comes together. One of the major highlights of the event was speaker Dr. Gina Palm, Ed. of
Children’s Home . They have partnered with SFW this year in an effort to highlight both of their causes and show how the two combine to create social awareness. With services ranging from residential treatment &
psychiatric services to assisting with developmental disabilities, this amazing organization has been around for over 120 years remaining the only functioning facility of its kind in King County. Dr. Gina, who was wearing both Lafayette 148 and one of the most beautiful necklaces I’ve seen by Kenneth Cole, stated that both, “hope & resiliency” were what they tried to instill into each
child and family that they serve. Clothes are one way to do this because they do have the ability to make any person feel good, despite what other problems they have. Their partnering with Seattle Fashion Week was brilliant as fashion awareness truly can lead to better health.

Just ask Built For Man founder Francisco Hernandez who says, “People want to be educated about what they are wearing. They are now seeking this awareness and we provide that by letting people know where their clothes are coming from, even if on a broad perspective...I look at the ethical standards of the factories where our clothes are made. People need to be aware of their ecological impact and clothing manufacturing practices are a big part of it.” In a world full of offshore manufacturing and labor laws teetering on disgraceful,
Built For Man seeks to provide the consumer with eco-conscious clothing options. This is good for all the Earth.

The resounding theme of the night was local, local, local. Seattle Fashion Week holds its own as a preserver of local talents. I spoke with Saky Sacks
President and Redmond local Rupa Wickrama, whose bag company donated their luxury carriers for the sweet swag bags that are available for attendees and VIP’s says that local and sustainable are where it is at with products these days. Her bags have sold to the likes of The Biebs and Keisha, showing that this eco-awareness has crossed all socio-economic sects. I love that the
world of fashion is going green by staying local. From manufacturers to world class designers, The Emerald City has produced quality time and time again. Amanda Pearl, Ken Downing, Project Runway, Nordstrom, Union Bay, United Colors of Benetton, even Nirvana all resonate with the fashion history of Seattle.

According to Seattle Fashion Incubator co-founder Steven Matusumoto, Seattle used to be a fashion mecca and in the late 80’s the entire infrastructure went offshore. With it went the industry. There is still an $8.3 billion fashion
industry here and he, along with a select group of fashion forward individuals are pushing for more fashion awareness and collaboration in the Pacific Northwest. Donning his signature Fedora, Matsumoto said, “We have the drive, talent and money. Now we just need to bring together the local support.”

Gabriel Choy is the mastermind behind the Seattle Fashion Week. Through private funding and donations from major local sponsors like Gene Juarez, Comcast and new this year, local professional modeling agencies Hefner Management and SMG, Gabe brings fashion to Seattle’s forefront by
coordinating almost two weeks full of events to get people involved in and more aware of fashion. “I don’t even try and compete with other fashion markets. Seattle has it’s own weather and style and I try to accommodate that with every event that I do.” As a photographer by trade, Gabe is renown in Seattle as having an eye for art and style. Gabe and his very talented staff have gone all out this year and I love seeing the evolution of things. From better branding to a more luxe appeal, a positive vibe and passionate energy are more noticeable than ever before and I love this for Seattle fashion.

Fashion Network Seattle Executive and socialite Cynarah Ellawala
was there to soak up the fashion and perhaps find the next big story for Fashion Network Seattle. She too, is a former model and for the past 12 years has worked with all types of industry leaders and designers from the beginning stages to multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. She formerly worked with Seamless in Seattle 2010 Competition winner Heilyke and successfully launched her line. Wearing a very feminine bone colored, ruffled Armani blouse Ellawala stated, “Determination in designers... and quality of design are what I really look for in lines. You can have a great idea but if your designs are not always photograph ready you have nothing.” Ellawala along with Fashion Network Seattle founder & CEO Shalonne Foster have created a virtual Fashion Mecca with topics ranging from local to worldwide all in the name of high fashion. (I now vistit this Mecca atleast once a day) These women have an eye as their site is the premier fashion hub for the Northwest.

Now, in the glitz and glamour we must not ever forget to thank the little people... Never overlook the volunteer as these are the true underbelly of any event. From the point of entry, Gabe’s volunteer staff are on it. Jacob Esparza and Ebony Chevalre mutually stated that it was easy to sign up and get involved with Seattle Fashion Week and they are ready for the very long days ahead. Simply answering an ad on Craigslist allowed them both to give back to their community by volunteering for the events. Esparza, who hit up the treasure-filled Seattle Goodwill for Fashion Week was clad in richly printed plaid with suspenders. He is a 3 year SFW volunteer veteran and his love for clothes and all things stylish brings him back for more each year. “Fashion is supposed to be fun and I think that people forget that. There are no rules or laws with fashion and everyone has their style. You wake up in the morning and put what you want on as long as it makes you look & feel good.” Rightly said. Seattle definitely has its own unique appeal and SFW 2011 represents that. Following their own rules, Seattle Fashion Week 2011 designers, contributors, and volunteers are paving their own way in the fashion world.
For ticket information and event details please visit their website.

Follow me on twitter @saks2salvation as I tweet live from the Finale Show Friday night!