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PHXFW is a Catwalk to Aspiring Designers’ Dreams

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 17:10

Samantha Patterson

Samantha Patterson

Samantha Patterson

Samantha Patterson

Phoenix Fashion Week (PHXFW) draws thousands of key industry professionals and guests to Phoenix every year for a week of fashion and education. Among these professional is this year’s crop of 12 emerging designers, a lot of them young, college-aged entrepreneurs working hard to launch their line and get recognition by top industry professionals. This group may be the first to tell you, the fashion world is not an easy one to break into, but for aspiring trendsetters PHXFW can be the key in making them a success. 
With Phoenix as one of the leading fashion industries in the Southwest, executive director Brian Hill has created a setting where designers can not only experience the aesthetic side of the fashion industry but learn about the business with seminars and guest speakers.

For this year’s event, PHXFW has partnered with Collins College to sponsor the Business of Fashion Seminar Series. The three-day event covers a number of fashion business basics anyone trying to figure out what to do with his or her line can benefit from. 
Nicole Bissing, Department Chair for Fashion Design and Merchandising at Collins College, pushes her students – and anyone interested in starting a clothing line – to take the PHXFW classes.

“It's so important to start out right,” she said. “It's easy to get enthusiastic about your line, and being creative is a huge part of it but having the business skills to back you up really will ensure your success.”

From a young age, 25-year-old Michael Poulos dreamed of owning a T-shirt line. After graduating from ASU in December 2010, he refocused his passion, attended last year’s fashion week seminars and used them as a launching pad for his line, Living Dreams. 
“The classes they offered were like your Fashion 101,” Poulos said. “And the speakers they had in each of the classes were nationally recognized names. I felt like it was a pretty good opportunity and got a lot of great information from them.”

Poulos learned about the emerging designer category and used it as motivation to push forward his brand and get featured in this year’s line up. After nearly missing the cut, Poulos became the last of the 12 to be of 200 applicants.

The year’s classes include "Launching your Fashion Business without Breaking the Bank," "The Business of Fashion Finance: Start-up 1-2-3," "Merchandising Your Fashion Business" and "Styling 101: Succeed as a Stylist.” Top industry professionals like expert Mercedes Gonzales and the President and Founder of the Fashion Business, Frances Harder, are scheduled to speak and lead a few seminars. 
“[Organizers] make sure that Phoenix Fashion Week is not just about the pretty fashion that we all love to see on the runway,” Bissing said. “They back it up with educating the designers and mentoring the designers.”

Samantha Patterson, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising graduate and one of this year’s emerging designers, can vouch for the benefits of seminars like the ones offered at PHXFW.

“Attending a program or going to an event like Phoenix Fashion Week is valuable because of the connections you are going to make,” she said. “Even if you have the skill set to be part of the industry, it’s hard to break into the business when you don't have those connections.”

Phoenix Fashion Week is one of the best fashion networking opportunities that Arizona has to offer, Bissing said. 
“Everyone in the industry should be there,” she said. “It is one of the biggest marketing events in the fashion industry in Arizona.”

The benefit of Phoenix Fashion Week, Bissing added, is that all of this information and opportunity come together in one event, so a fashionista trying to break into the industry would be smart to attend. 
“Take every opportunity you have available,” Poulos said. “Whether it's a class, a networking event or a fashion event, you really just have to be out there and it will only be a matter of time before you get noticed.”

Phoenix Fashion Week, Talking Stick Resort, 9800 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale, 480.850.7777, Wednesday, October 3, to Sunday, October 6, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., $25 to $100 ($10 to $15 per Business of Fashion seminar)

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