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Inclusive Chicago Fashion Week takes place
By Vee L. Harrison
2018-11-13

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Chicago Fashion Week was a seven-day celebration of designers, models and absolute flyness presented by FashionBar Chicago. FashionBar is a fashion marketing firm and they are destined to create Chicago into a fashion capital.

On Oct. 21-28, 10 fashion events took place in various locations across the city, and each show gave a bit more than the one before it. The week was epic, but for many across the nation, a phrase like "epic fashion show in Chicago" may seem out of place. However, the staff at FashionBar Chicago is working toward making sure that Chicago is branded as a fashion capital, and Chicago Fashion Week is just a start.

There are so many outlets to make money in Chicago—and fashion is just one. Chicago Fashion Week is just one method in which Fashion Bar CEO Tony Long sees Chicago's economic growth coming to past.

"Chicago deserves to be a fashion capital," Long told Windy City Times. "Putting fashion on a pedestal will make Chicago's economy boom. Fashion can bring so much business to this city, and Chicago needs that."

Fashion Week in the windy city featured several of Chicago's very own designers. Samuel Minor, designer of Ugly Bear 90, said that having his designs showcased at Chicago Fashion Week was a dream come true.

"Chicago is not a huge fashion platform," said Minor. "I'm excited to be a part of helping make Chicago become a platform for [it]."

Minor is 24 and was raised in Chicago's Cabrini-Green projects. His brand is actually inspired from the deaths of his friends. Minor said when they were young men, they loved high-end fashion—so, after their death, it was up to him to continue the fashion legacy. He said his designs are meant to have a positive impact on today's urban youth—to show his peers that a positive life comes out of working hard.

Of course, designers couldn't showcase great fashion without having a great list of talented models. Models of all shapes and sizes took the runway during Chicago Fashion Week. That was major for Long, who said inclusion is a key factor in fashion.

"The most important thing about this week is to understand that fashion means inclusion," he said. "Fashion does not mean conforming. Fashion is freedom."

Inclusion is the reason why Long also hosted a show specifically for transgender and non-conforming individuals to model for the show. The Trans Media and Fashion show took place on the sixth day of Chicago Fashion Week at the Spiegel Building in Bridgeport. The show intended to send a message: Models do not need to conform, and fashion is for everyone.

Michael Dean, a non-conforming gay male model from Chicago, took part. Dean walked in the show and said it was a liberating experience.

"When I step into those heels, I feel powerful," said Dean. "We need to embrace that everyone is different. People offering judgements because of someone's clothing is unfair."

Models who worked the runway in Chicago Fashion Week were no amateurs. Chadon M'Be had just returned from Paris Fashion Week and was elated to participate in Chicago's event. M'Be said she believes that, one day, Chicago will be seen for all its talented designers and models.

"It was a beautiful experience," saids M'Be. "Chicago is very underrated in fashion, though. They don't take Chicago models seriously, but soon they will."

D'nia Defrance also modeled in shows during Chicago Fashion Week. She also believes that Chicago could elevate its fashion persona, in due time.

"It's so many individual styles here in Chicago," said Defrance. "In due time, Chicago will be seen."

Regan Kolbo was a model, though, who wasn't from Chicago. She and her mom drove eight hours to witness Chicago Fashion Week. Kolbo had absolutely no regrets, she said, about the long drive.

"What FashionBar is doing to build up fashion in Chicago is incredible," said Kolbo, 19. "Being a model in Chicago Fashion Week was a great way to grow the city into a fashion capital."


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