Columbus, OH

Fashion Week Columbus struts back into the city

The Lantern
Model Madison Thompson styled by Xantha Ward. Credit: Tony Bentivegna

While Columbus may not be as trendy as New York City or Los Angeles, it remains fashion-forward in its own right.

This year’s Fashion Week Columbus — also known as FWC — will showcase the original work(s) of many Ohio-based fashion designers from Sunday to Sept. 30, according to FWC’s website . Jennifer Moore, the style director for FWC, said the prolonged event is a high-quality hub for Columbus’ diverse fashion talents and sensibilities.

“It is the perfect opportunity to showcase the talent that’s within Columbus, and it’s an opportunity for folks to come together that love fashion,” Moore said. “It’s always a great experience for first-time designers to showcase their talents and designers who are seasoned on the runway to continue their efforts. It’s where creativity comes alive.”

Some 2023 events include Sunday’s “14th Annual High Fashion Tea Runway Show,” Tuesday’s “Passport 2 Fashion By The Spice Age” show and Thursday’s “Philanthropy Meets Fashion” interview at the Columbus College of Art and Design, the FWC website states.

Moore said FWC is also partnering with Nurtur Salon for a sustainable fashion experience, titled “Recycled Runway Fashion Show,” scheduled for Wednesday.

“The designers participating in that fashion show – there’s seven of them – make a garment that is all recycled materials,” Moore said. “I believe this is our second year doing this particular show, and it’s just so much fun.”

Notably, Moore said this year’s FWC will be the first one since the retirement of its founder, Thomas McClure.

“He founded Fashion Week 14 years ago, and his legacy is Fashion Week itself,” Moore said. “To be a part of such an amazing experience, to be a part of a family which we’ve come to be is such a good feeling, and to continue out his vision and see it grow and manifest into something different is just an incredible feeling.”

Moore said as a part of this vision, there are particular qualities she looks for when selecting featured designers. Demonstrating innovation is usually at the top of her list, she said.

“I love designers who are inclusive and who promote not just gender inclusivity, but race and age,” Moore said. “I have a designer who has a model, one of his models that he uses all the time, who is in her 70s. I love things like that because you’re never too old to grace our runway.”

Ultimately, finding new talent and uplifting up-and-coming designers are important actions that allow Fashion Week Columbus to thrive, Moore said.

“I love newcomers to Fashion Week,” Moore said. “We have a lot of designers that return to our runway because they love Fashion Week so much, but I also love the opportunity to showcase new designers.”

One of those new designers is Sydney Peters, who will be making her debut at the High Fashion Tea Runway Show. Peters said her preparation for the show has been rigorous.

“Obviously it’s making a lot of garments, a lot of clothes, it’s doing a lot of fittings with the models,” Peters said. “It’s kind of coming up with the whole creative idea because you wanna make sure that everything you’re creating tends to all the senses, not just the visual and the outfits, but also the music.”

Peters said one of her defining characteristics as a designer is that she is completely self-taught.

“I’ve never taken a single class on fashion design,” Peters said. “I’ve always known that I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was very young.”

Peters’ family has a lengthy history with Columbus fashion, she said. More specifically, Peters said her family has owned boutiques and department stores in the Columbus area dating back to the 1800s.

“[The Union Department Store] was created by my great-great-great-grandpa,” Peters said.

Peters also said her inspiration for this show, as well as her overall career, is her childhood memories of her youth and mother.

“A lot of it is inspired by gardening and flowers,” Peters said. “I used to plant gardens with her. My mom passed away when I was 9, so I want to honor her in a way.”

Moore said the shows and events featured in Fashion Week Columbus are meant to be accessible, with several of the events being free. Moore also said FWC encourages members of the Columbus community to sign up as volunteers , which can grant them access to certain ticketed events.

More information about Fashion Week Columbus 2023 and its various events can be found on the FWC website .

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