Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Local Designers Get a Shot at the Runway

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 11:14 AM

If you've ever thought about designing your own clothes, Memphis Fashion Weekend is here to make that passing thought into a fledgling design into a runway reality. The Emerging Memphis Designer Project is new to the Memphis Fashion Weekend festivities in March, and we sat down with organizer Abby Elzemeyer Phillips to find out the details.

Why did you decide to add this to the Memphis Fashion Weekend lineup?

We got a lot of submissions last year from local designers who either had full collections but weren't the current season, or didn't have full collections and therefore couldn't show on their own. This was a way to bring all of the designers in Memphis together to create new Spring/Summer 2013 looks without having to create a whole new collection — because that's time consuming, it's costly, and it's hard to do if you're not a full-time designer or you're just starting out.

So how does the process of selecting designers work?

We have an application process and the designers will submit sketches for Spring/Summer 2013 looks. We have given them a color forecast. For Spring/Summer 2013 there are four different color forecasts that showcase the different trends for the coming season and we picked the one called "Clarity." It has a lot of beautiful pastels and also has some rich plums and greys. We're asking that designers stick with this color palette so that when they all go down the runway together they'll still look like a somewhat complete collection.

So you're hoping to get multiple designers involved in one collection?

We're hoping to have 25 looks walk the runway. Each designer can submit up to five looks. We may have five designers with all five looks, or 25 designers with one look each. We're just not sure what that breakdown is going to be yet.

What does the application itself entail?

What we're requiring is a sketch and for people to fill out the application. We've said that if people want to submit a mood board to help us understand their creative thought process that would be helpful, but it's definitely not necessary. So many people are creating mood boards on Pinterest that creating a mood board is much easier than it used to be.

The application is really a chance for us to see the designer's background, find out whether they've done anything like this before — which they do not have to have done anything like this before. We're totally open to people going, 'Oh, I've always wanted to do that, let's see if I can.'

What sort of resources will be available to these emerging designers?

Each designer gets $40 per look, which isn't a ton, we know, but at least we can give them a starting point. Sew Memphis is one of our sponsors of this event and they are going to be giving time slots for the Emerging Memphis Designer Project to come and use their sewing machines. They'll also be giving one class to the designers to kind of give an overview of how to use the machines and the idea of patterns. If all they've done are sketches, and they haven't brought them to life yet, they'll get a better idea of how to do that.

Another one of our sponsors is the Memphis Fashion Group, Charlisha Renata, and she'll be there to help designers with the business side of things. She'll be mentoring the designers that are chosen, helping them figure out what is their aesthetic, how to stay true to that, and helping them with the business side of fashion.

What's in store for the designers after the Memphis Fashion Weekend?

I'm hoping we'll be able to team up with boutiques to showcase the designs but also help these designers make a connection for future sales. I know K'Presha downtown desperately wants to use local designers and is totally open to trying to sell local pieces and doing custom looks for people. It's just at this point she's had a hard time trying to find local designers.

What would you say to someone who has very little experience with designing, maybe doesn't even know how to sketch, but is interested in designing for the show?

That's the hard part. Because if you don't know how to sketch, it's hard for us to be able to see what your designs are. If we get something that we feel has the creativity behind it, has the passion behind it, we'll make sure we do everything we can to get the full idea of what they want to do for the application process. But we'd rather they give sketching their best try. We have on our website a couple of helpful links and one of those is a link to a YouTube video on sketching and some tutorials. We hope people utilize those links to help them through the process.

For more information on Memphis Fashion Weekend or the Emerging Memphis Designer Project, visit or

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