Last April fashion took over Wilmington, as the inaugural Wilmington Fashion Weekend (WFW) jumpstarted a craze that’s long been in the making. Models strutted down the runway, a trunk show, which featured goods from a host of local vendors, wowed attendees, and parties painted the city. As well, a portion of the proceeds benefitted DREAMS of Wilmington, a local creativity inspiring nonprofit for Port City youth.
Local fashion consultant TJ Dunn and A Boxed Event owner Khalilah Olokunola, aided by Libby Dunn and JJ Knight (Prologue PR owner), honed in on this burgeoning market and devised the local fashion celebration. Selling out each show, overall about 1,000 fashionistas came out to support WFW.
Now, on the heels of WFW’s success, they have set into motion Fashion on Front. This Thursday, Bakery 105 will showcase the Port City’s stylish flair. The night will offer live music and exclusive shopping. Most importantly, it will foster partnerships and a growing community of local apparel and accessory purveyors.
“It was part of those round-table conversations after WFW,” Olokunola tells of the event’s founding. “We wanted to keep up the moment and extend the opportunities to support local businesses that thrive off the individuals that shop ILM.”
As well, the team launched a website devoted to local garment and accessory peddlers (http://wilmingtonfashion.com) in April. It details the efforts of local shops and designers and provides information for aspiring models. The site features blogs by Tabitha Shiflett that enlighten on local trends and events. According to Olokunola, the site is still reaching out to its core following; however, as they utilize it and Facebook to raise awareness about events, such as Fashion on Front, a loyal patronage will form in time.
“[Local trends right now include] super bold prints with minimalist handcrafted jewelry,” Olokunola informs. Such jewelry can be found at Shelton Metal, which will be among the vendors at Fashion on Front. Structured dresses, too, top the list of hot local items. “These work great for me since I’m such a curvaceous woman,” Olokunola describes.
Distressed jeans, paired with a basic tee and kimono, also turn heads on Wilmington streets. The look can be accessorized with a chunky necklace and a pair of shoes that pop. The items that make up this look can be found at local retailers, including: Edge of Urge, Oliver, Aqua Fedora, Lula Balou, and Tickled Pink—all of whom will be present at Fashion on Front.
“I need to be clear: Even though some of us love name brands, fashion is not about whose name you wear,” Olokunola says. “The importance of it is that fashion is a creative expression of who you are. It’s your voice and [it’s] as soft or loud spoken as you want.”
Oliver, TEE and ZEE, and Forge and Foundry are among newcomers that didn’t participate in WFW. The event will showcase men’s ware, too. “[They’re showing] pure excitement at the opportunity to gather with the community and celebrate the creative talent and fashion Wilmington has to offer,” Olokunola says.
Other contributors for the event include: Bloke, Second Skin Vintage, Casey Crespo Designs, Perla Segovia, Kasey Noe of Kinis Botique, Stella & Dott, SideArm Surf and Skate, SMH Jewelry, and Just Like Honey Clothing. Hot off the “Triple Threat Art Show” held at Annex Surf Supply in July, Suzi Drake, will be in attendance with her eclectic jewelry featured on her Etsy site, Whistlepig Workshop.
“I think relationships are extremely valuable in any business,” Olokunola remarks. “As far as the boutiques, each one has its own style and by cultivating the relationships with each other in the same field it can often lead to longterm friendships, support and growth—especially when there is something [they] both can relate to.“
While style will be the evening’s main focus, there also will be live music from electric blues and gutter-folk outfit Justin Lacy and the Swimming Machine. The Fermental wine and beer lounge will keep glasses filled, while Fork and Cork will offer a build-your-own brisket station, and Canapé will provide light bites. Dessert will come from 9 Bakery and Lounge. “It’s gonna be a good one!” Olokunola expresses.
Attendees will receive the opportunity to shop the local purveyors, and they will receive 10 percent off when displaying their ticket at all participating stores for one week after the event. Folks can purchase tickets at http://wilmington-fashion.ticketleap.com/fof/.
Fashion on Fr ont
Thursday, Aug. 21st, 6 p.m.
Bakery 105, 105 Orange St.