The Evolution of Fashion Week MN

After seven years, how does this uber-talented community continue to reinvent itself?

It’s fall fashion week for Minnesota yet again. Over the last seven years, the Fashion Week MN community has grown into an established microcosm of Minnesotan style fanatics who buy, wear, and support one another’s work—a network of designers, producers, stylists, and artists who attend each other’s shows and find new ways to collaborate each year. An evening at Fashion Week MN feels like a veritable who’s who of Twin Cities style, art, and media, with everybody dressed to the nines and ready to strut their stuff both on and off the runway. 

“People treat this like their own fashion show,” says CEO Sarah Edwards, who has led the bi-annual local fashion experience for the past seven years. “Yes, there are amazing looks on the runway, but all the people in the audience are their own, other fashion show. It’s so fun to see what everyone wears.” 

This fall’s Fashion Week MN is no different—although the team behind this fabulous event series is set on growing, especially when it comes to sustainability and equity.

Courtesy of Dammel Photography

Edwards and her team know they can rely on seasoned producers and dedicated fans to create fashion-forward experiences time and time again. But Edwards, who says she attends every single fashion show, says the Fashion Week MN community is far from set in its ways and more than happy to welcome newcomers into the fold. 

“It’s always evolving,” she says. “We’re taking time after every season to ask about what’s working and what’s not working. How can we make this more equitable and sustainable?”

Equity

This starts with finding the right people. Edwards begins with the selection process for producers, who are chosen by an advisory board of local fashion experts and community leaders in a competitive application process. Once selected, getting connected with venues, DJs, stylists, and makeup artists are just the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s a mix of trying to find new producers who have a fresh, new perspective and giving them the tools to succeed, while also letting veteran producers just do their thing,” says Edwards. 

There are several familiar creatives in the event lineup this fall. Designer and producer Keiona Cook of Qe’Bella Couture has been a staple in the Fashion Week MN world, known not only for her bold womenswear but also her philanthropic efforts to help children develop skills like sewing, public speaking, and financial literacy. And Minneapolis-based clothing brand Energy Gear will wow attendees with edgy-meets-futuristic designs that will stand out on the runway and on the streets of the Twin Cities. 

Courtesy of Dammel Photography

Last year was Coalesce Collective’s first time dazzling the Twin Cities fashion world with its colorful runway show. This fall, the AAPI artists group returned to Fashion Week MN with designs that Edwards called “mind-blowing.” The Monday show, Coalesce: 1922, was an artistic window into a time when women’s voices pushed boundaries around race and culture, using the power of art and fashion. Edwards called the event, hosted at the American Swedish Institute, a “cultural mashup,” as part of an ongoing effort for the Institute to welcome all people.

Sustainability

It wouldn’t be Fashion Week MN without sustainability-focused events. Dynamic producer duo Rose + Bull will be kicking off the week with a vintage runway show, and on Sunday, Into The Studio hosted a panel on the behind-the-scenes magic of sustainable fashion. 

“I love Into the Studio because it focuses on the story and the education of the designers, and their process. We get an idea of what really goes into that profession.” Edwards says. 

As for what’s new and improved, Edwards is especially looking forward to the Fashion Week MN community diving into the meaning behind buzzwords like “metaverse” and “sustainability.” The intersection between technology and fashion grows ever stronger, and events like The Future of Fashion will explore what that means for the fashion community and creators in our state. The event will include esteemed panelists like Amir of Rem5, Tara Daily of the DressDecode app, and Shelisa Demuth, the executive director of Beta.mn and founder of LAUREL Development. These experts will discuss where the future of fashion is headed and how tech can help fashionistas make stylish, smart, and sustainable choices. 

Courtesy of Dammel Photography

Most importantly, Edwards says her team is continuously finding new ways to make Fashion Week MN a creative, fun space for anyone and everyone, by championing events and styles that are as inclusive as possible. Edwards has hired multiple consultants from across the Midwest to guide Fashion Week MN toward being more inclusive of all bodies, both on and off the runway. Together with these consultants, the Fashion Week MN team is hoping to create a space where everyone can share their creativity and personal style with the world. Everything from the individual venues to the chairs and the clothes have been created or selected with the goal of helping people feel comfortable and beautiful.

“Fashion can be kind of exclusive,” says Edwards, “but we’re really trying to break through that.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

Tuesday, September 20: The Future of Fashion

Wednesday, September 21: Luxe Streetwear

Thursday, September 22: Fusion

Saturday, September 24: Golden Hour

Saturday, September 24: EVOLVE

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