The PHXFW Shop Garment District Experience

August 25, 2016

Arizona’s most fashionable men and women squeezed past each other and chatted in the Moxy hotel‘s bustling conference room, which was lined wall to wall with pop up boutique shopping spaces from each of Phoenix Fashion Week‘s fourteen emerging designers.

Shoppers admired clothes off the racks and tried on garments, shoes, and accessories, all in anticipation of what each designer would bring to the runway show later that night–four new garment designs–a preview of their full collection for October’s highly anticipated runway show.

Urbanite Runway had the chance to attend a Phoenix Fashion Week event for the first time, and here are our observations and thoughts on the Shop Garment District experience.

Shop Garment District is the second event in a series of three, all of which are a part of Phoenix Fashion Week’s ‘Designer Bootcamp.’ Fourteen designers from around the globe were chosen to participate in the four month long bootcamp, where they hone their brand and learn about the fashion business. The culmination of designer bootcamp is the main runway presentation in October at Talking Stick Resort, where each emerging designer shows a full collection and a lucky few are crowned ‘Designer of the Year.’

Shop Garment District is particularly exciting in that the local fashion public gets to visually see what the designers bring to the table in a capsule collection runway show. Patrons can shop items from the designers’ past collections and then get a taste of what is to come in October, all in the same night. There’s no better way for an audience to get acquainted to a brand by experiencing the full scope of a designer’s work, both past, present, and future, which Shop Garment certainly accomplishes.

Another key stand out of the Shop Garment experience was seeing the range in design aesthetics from each designer, which varied from classic inspirations to modern trends. Since each designer comes from a different hometown and has a unique design aesthetic and brand mission, guests were really able to take in a wide range of clothing and creators. It was also refreshing to see shoe and jewelry designers included in the emerging designer lineup, who collaborated with the clothing designers to round out the styling of each model for the night’s runway show.

Models were also an important part of the Shop Garment District event and the bootcamp experience, as they go through a four month long bootcamp of their own leading up to October’s runway show. The forty models that were chosen to participate in the Top 40 model competition have had their fair share of challenges to complete alongside the designers, such as a headshot competition, a print ad challenge, and a runway walk challenge. In October, one male and one female model will be named ‘Model of the Year’ and win a contract with The Agency Arizona.

Ultimately what makes the Shop Garment District event stand out from other local fashion shows is its place in the Phoenix Fashion Week Designer Bootcamp system. This type of event and business/brand support system for not only up and coming designers, but models as well, is rare in today’s fashion industry, making Phoenix Fashion Week a gem. For these fourteen designers and forty models, this is a chance for them to learn and be fostered from some of the best in the Phoenix business and expand their brand and themselves to a larger market.

In today’s global fashion market, creative directors take over for a few years designing a brand’s clothes, and then leave. It is commonly referred to as “designer musical chairs” by today’s fashion media, and has been scrutinized for its lack of effectiveness in sustaining a brand’s vision. Some creative directors stay for many years, like Karl Lagerfeld, whose decades at Chanel and just last year, 50 years at Fendi, showed how designer longevity is the key to a brand’s success. Though unfortunately, in today’s ever-changing fashion landscape, Karl’s long term brand status is the exception to the rule, and fashion designers continue to rush to find an empty seat before the music stops.

While these fourteen emerging designers may not have global domination and brand longevity like Chanel yet, maybe with the leverage and support of Phoenix Fashion Week’s designer bootcamp, they can all get a little closer.


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