After a challenging year for creative collaboration, Fashion Week Minnesota came back in full-swing in mid-September. This week-long event series featured runway shows, presentations, panels, and, of course, opportunities for shopping Minnesota-based designers and brands. (opens in a new tab)
“It feels like people were kind of waiting to come out and get dressed again and realize that fashion is more than just the clothing we wear. It’s really a way to create community and have conversations,” said Fashion Week Minnesota CEO and co-founder Sarah Edwards.
While attendees were masked, according to recent mandates, the traditional flair of Fashion Week Minnesota was still seen across all runways. This year’s lineup of events included the all red [RED]EMPTION show by Energy Gear, IAmMoody x MartinPatrick3’s 4th Annual All Black Attire Party, and a show featuring Indigenous-inspired designs from Delina White, Osamuskwasis Roan, and Darlene Beetso.
Fashion Week Minnesota takes this opportunity to connect creators and fashion lovers, and that means using their platforms to not just promote Minnesota businesses and designers, but also have conversations about issues that affect the fashion community.
Producers are responsible for the content of their shows, and many of them opted to donate proceeds to local nonprofits or use their art to comment on the need for more inclusivity in the world of fashion.
“I think a lot of it is because of the pandemic and the social unrest. People needed connection and community and to be more aware of their purchasing power,” Edwards said.
In the kickoff show, FashionABLE 2.0 at Rosedale Mall, artist Through Jimmy’s Eyes, who has autism, showcased his colorful designs on differently abled models. The proceeds from the event went to support Best Buddies MN, a nonprofit that provides opportunities for learning and leadership development to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In response to ageism within the fashion industry, Rumblings Media, headed by Rebecca Lindberg and Karyn Entzion, hosted a panel discussion on Fashion After 50 and a pop-up market with midlife female vendors focusing on women’s health and wellness. Panelists included business owners, artists, models, and life coaches who provided insights on how women’s sense of self and style evolve through life.
This was also the first year of the Golden Runway show, a fashion show hosted entirely by students from the University of Minnesota’s Golden Magazine, a digital media organization focused on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle topics. The show featured WAY the Label, Denim Revival Co., Primrose, and ElaMariie Jewelry, all women-led labels that aim to inspire people to feel comfortable and confident in their style.
According to a report published by the United Nations Environment Program and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. One way to work against these detrimental effects is turning to thrifted or vintage fashion instead of buying new.
“Historically, fashion is about selling and buying new and the latest trends. I think that as we take into consideration things like the climate crisis, fashion can be very problematic,” Edwards said.
Fashion Week Minnesota typically showcases vintage or thrifted fashion, and this year was no different. The Welcome to Wonderland show featured vintage designs from The Red Eye and Glam Diggers Vintage.
Producer duo Rose + Bull used their online platform and runway shows to call attention to environmental racism and promote sustainable fashion choices. This year, they also donated some of their proceeds to The Link MN, an organization founded by former Minnesota Vikings players Jim Marshall and Oscar Reed to address youth poverty, homelessness, and crime in North Minneapolis.
“Fashion can move more towards activism and creating conversations. These panel events are crucial to making us stop and think about what we’re wearing and more importantly, why we’re wearing it and where it came from,” Edwards said.
Andy Ramcharan and Sheema Ramcharan directly addressed the issue of sustainability in fashion through their Live Model Sketch and Panel Discussion event. Fashion Illustrator Jennifer Adam kicked off the event with an inside look at fashion illustration, and then attendees were given the opportunity to sketch a look from featured designers Jocelyn Yang of Jocii Designs. Speakers shared what they can do to become more sustainable and what changes still need to be made within the fashion industry.