Runway shows, workshops, photoshoots: Springfield’s inaugural Fashion Week

SPRINGFIELD — A unique array of fashion designers and brands are taking center stage now during Springfield’s inaugural Fashion Week.

Attendees can expect an extraordinary lineup of talented designers and brands, presenting their collections that dazzle with a variety of styles and aesthetics. The main events include a series of runway shows, presentations, workshops, photoshoots and curated experiences, all of which put a spotlight the latest trends in fashion and design.

Fashion Week was established was to showcase the region’s emerging and established designers, models and fashion brands, providing a platform for creativity, innovation and artistic expression.

Designers showcased include Klothes by K, AVADO, Sheldon Smith, Generational Drip, Ragz 2 Riches, Digital Boombox Network, Gypsy Clothes, Devin Davon, Level Up by India Anderson, Q Demigod, Savonne, SELF INVEST, Josefa da Silva, Sheldon Smith, Soul for Art, Stonington Clothing Co., Claude Russell-SHEIN and Designs by Dani Simone.

Earlier in the week at Make-It Springfield’s “Sewing 101″ and designer bag workshop and challenge, Sheldon Smith, membership and operations coordinator, helped participants with the basics of the sewing machine.

“Make-It Springfield is a place for people to come and create,” Smith said. “People bring their own skill sets to the table and then show what they can do.”

Of the 10 people that registered for the make-your-own-bag challenge was Wenting Jia and husband Nels Frye. Jia and Frye said they attended Tuesday’s designer bag challenge to network and gain more skills.

Jia is the owner of J.W. Frye, which specializes in upcycled eco-friendly materials such as cotton, glass and plastic.

“We are in the final stages of opening a 400-square-foot eco-friendly lifestyle and apparel store on the first floor of the MassLive building,” Jia said; MassLive is the sister media outlet of The Republican.

The J.W. Frye storefront space is supported by the Latino Economic Development Corp. and will be among a group of Latina women-owned vendors on the first floor.

In Springfield, Jia hopes to make Springfield the J.W. Frye brand’s home.

“The vision is to make collection items for boutique stores in Springfield and then ship it to New York,” Jia said.

Jia hopes the skills and partnerships she makes at Fashion Week will lead to collaborations with local artists to create a Springfield city line. Eventually, she even hopes to collaborate with celebrities like Snoop Dogg.

Springfield Fashion Week kicked off on Tuesday with “Sewing 101″ and “Manifesting Your Own Epic Life” workshops, and the inaugural Fashion Night Out.

On Wednesday, the Designer Bag Challenge was held at Make-It Springfield, a designer meet and greet was hosted at the PROVEN pop-up shop, and a Fashion’s Finest Photoshoot party was held at Megaland Studios.

On Thursday, from 6 to 9 p.m., a Paparazzi at the Park fashion show was followed by a bar crawl at White Lion Brewing, Dewey’s Jazz Lounge, Del Ray Taqueria and Bar, and more.

On Friday, from 5:30 to 6 p.m., speed dating will be hosted at PROVEN, followed by a celebration of the Fabric of Mason Square, a fashion show and community block party. The Cosmic Cycles fashion show and block party also will be held at Ben Swan Way from 6 to 10 p.m.

Fashion Week will end on Saturday, with the Fashion Oasis fashion show at Nixon Studio Rental on Race Street in Holyoke from 7 to 9 p.m.

Additionally, for Fashion Week only, the PROVEN pop-up store at 813 State St. will feature pieces and merchandise from participating Springfield Fashion Week designers. The store is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Springfield Creative City Collective, Mason Square Transformative Development Initiative and Black and Brown Wall Street aim to help professionalize and organize the budding regional fashion industry, said Tiffany Allecia, executive director of the collective.

The Springfield Creative City Collective, which is supported by funding from MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative and TDI Creative Cities Program, awarded Bartell and Co. owner and Fashion Week founder Joron Stimage-Norwood with $1,000 for the initiative, as well as over $5,000 in additional funding for various events and experiences throughout the week.

“Springfield Fashion Week is important because it allows the community to uplift each other through nontraditional means, while displaying alternative talents and interests of our region. Fashion affects us all directly or indirectly, and it’s nice to bring some focus to the subject, so we can all learn, share and grow,” Stimage-Norwood said in a statement.

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