As Fashion Focus Chicago kicks off this month, there’s no better place to check out the brand spankin’ new designer talent than at the Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion show. The young designer showcase (in its fifth year in Chicago, sixteenth in New York) has garnered a reputation as the place to view up-and-coming talent, and has helped designers like Zac Posen, Rebecca Taylor, Michelle Tan and Orlando Espinoza to the next level. According to Gen Art Chicago director Amanda Nosal, fashion designers are definitely in need of extra support.
“One of the main things for designers is to show their collections during fashion week. Doing that in New York costs $50,000 and up, but it’s the only way to get collections in front of everyone all at once,” she says. The Gen Art solution? Sponsorship. Each sponsor’s logo graces the stage behind one of the collections, allowing them to showcase ten young designers, many of whom would have remained undiscovered without the helpful boost.
To create the show Nosal spends the year scouring the scene for buzz-worthy designers. A few months before the final selection she contacts in-the-know shops like Jake and Hejfina to see what new local lines they’re excited about. With many of this year’s designers on only their second or third collections, the pool of talent will undoubtedly be fashionably cutting-edge. “I think this year we’re showing designers that I haven’t heard a lot of talk about [outside the fashion industry],” Nosal says. “They’re really new and really fresh, which is exciting” Included on the list are womenswear designers Abigail Glaum-Lathbury and Moire Conroy, menswear line Wrath Arcane and accessories collections by Winifred Grace and Kinsley Handbags.
While the short-term goals of the show focus on exposing our local talent to the fashion world, their long-term ambitions involve turning Chicago into the next great designer haven.
“Chicago has great designers, but not a ton to pick from. I hope as the show and Fashion Focus grow that more designers are encouraged to stay and create their business here,” Nosal says. “That’s what the goal is.” (Molly Each)
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