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What's Wrong Milwaukee's Fashion Week
And what I think could make it better.
Model wearing a design by Kelvin Hayden. Photo by Lynee Ruiz.
Disclaimer: The views of this article are entirely my own. 

I was really excited to hear someone was attempting another local fashion week, and it blasted off this past weekend. 

When the schedule of events came out, I was a bit disappointed to see what I hoped not to, which was that most of the fashion shows were showcasing boutique clothing. While I absolutely love our local boutiques and support them, I had hopes that the focus of "Milwaukee Fashion Week" would err on the side of our local designers. (View the Milwaukee Fashion Week schedule here.) 

Why? Well, if Milwaukee fashion shows are known widely for boutique clothing, what sets us apart from any other city? While the clothing sold in boutiques can be different from those in department stores and chains, you can still find most of the same items at small boutiques across the country. 

But I was happy to see Third Coast Style taking part in many events (a Milwaukee boutique that specializes in selling local designs). The boutique is a huge step forward in supporting our talent. There are also Fashion Forums and business discussions taking place with many of Milwaukee's leaders in fashion education and awareness.

Does this mean I don't support and admire the hard work of the individuals that put together this year's version of fashion week? Absolutely not. Putting on a fashion show and host of events of this scale is very difficult, and they deserve to be recognized for that. 

I was able to attend the "MKE Runway" show at Spin on Sunday night, and found it was well executed. There I met a breath of fresh air, boutique owner Lizzi Weasler, who own's Lizzibeth, an online boutique and pop up shop that specializes in shopping parties. She's a young, fashionable entrepreneur with killer style that shows through in her selection of apparel and accessories.

The point of this critique is not to discourage boutique fashion shows. They are great for showcasing what boutiques have in store. And I will personally continue to support, attend and buy from them. The point of this is to sharpen a fashion line that has been blurred, which is that Milwaukee has so much more to offer than what our fashion week is currently showcasing. Why can't they show it all?

Luckily, there were events outside of the fashion week "initiative" that restore my hope. First, Redline's Re-purposed Runway, a show dedicated to designers. One-of-a-kind collections were shown and each one was better than the last. Barely Practical blogger Corleen Heidgerken gives you a front row view here. Along with that, a contest was held to design a water -themed gown out of recycled materials. The results were stunning. 

In addition to the Redline show, "Project Runway" designer Timothy Westbrook held his own show dubbed "Paleontology of a Woman" at the Public Museum.

While many may argue the point of our fashion shows is to celebrate the fashion and culture of our city, I beg to differ. Boutiques should continue to produce shows with what they have in store, but this should not be the main focus of our city's fashion week. I think we're so much more than that.

Homepage image via Shutterstock. 




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