New STL designers join the fold

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New STL designers join the fold

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Founded in 2006, St. Louis Fashion Week (STLFW) is the largest opportunity in the Midwest for local and emerging designers to showcase their work and launch their fashion careers.  By doing so, the designers create awareness of their existence and, as a result, a potential increase in demand for their work.  An abundance of local designers present their line to the St. Louis Fashion Fund panel.  The panel is a group made up of buyers, marketing professionals and magazine editors.  This panel narrows the group down to the top-five designers who then have models walk the runway for the public.  Sponsored by Caleres, the Calares Emerging Designer Award is a $25,000 cash grant to the designer to get his/her feet on the ground in the industry.  The process St. Louis uses is similar to that of “Project Runway.”

This year, the five finalists were: Jordana Warmflash of NOVIS, Julie Haus and Jason Alkire of Haus Alkire, Azede Jean-Pierre of Azede Jean-Pierre, Katherine Polk of Houghton (winner of $25,000 grant) and Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta.   The runway show kicked off STL Fashion Week this year on Nov. 4 in Union Station.  The venue was so unique;  the ceilings were high, the stonewalls were edgy and the decorations were chic.

Other than the runway show on Wednesday, Nov. 4, the week consisted of stand still designer displays of garments inspired by artwork and cocktail parties with informational and inspirational speakers within the fashion industry. Special guests to STLFW included Iris Apfel (fashion icon), Tomoko Ogura (Senior Fashion Director of Barneys New York), Lisa Perry (designer) and Paul Dillinger (Vice President of Global Product Innovation and Premium Collection Design at Levi Strauss & Co.).

With St. Louis Fashion Week reaching 10,000 attendees this year, and only going up in numbers, the smaller Midwest cities are proving themselves to the New York based media.  Smaller shows like STLFW can change the lives of emerging designers and help make their dreams come true.

Encouraging local designers and small boutiques to showcase their work improves St. Louis networking and marketing.  The community sees the potential in local individuals, allowing more people to buy and invest in up-and-coming companies or designers.

While other cities, such as Charleston, South Carolina and Miami, are also trying to produce a successful fashion week, St. Louis is the second best city behind New York for fostering young talent in the industry.  So the next time you hear of a regional fashion show, think twice before turning down the invitation.  St. Louis designers could very well be the next big thing.