Seven at Seven
5/3: 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Brooklyn Arts Center • 516 N. 4th St.
Quite a few of my friends religiously shop at stores like Forever 21 and American Eagle, despite the fact that Wilmington has a plethora of independently owned clothing stores and boutiques all over town. I’m sure some encore readers can relate. But let me ask you this: Has Forever 21 ever put on a fashion show for you, or volunteered to set up shop when they’re closed just to give you an idea of what they have to offer?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
On May 3rd, the Brooklyn Arts Center becomes host to many local fashion boutiques as they celebrate a night of style, by Wilmington and for Wilmington. Seven at Seven, presented by Wilmington Downtown, Inc. (WDI)—a non-profit organization focused on improving everything downtown-related—will bring together design, music and art under one roof. All monies collected will help WDI improve the quality of life for residents and create a more appealing atmosphere to draw others to the Wilmington riverfront. The organization will also help promote downtown shops and boutiques, and raise money to benefit other areas of our historic region.
John Hinnant, president and CEO of WDI, says the show was originally created as a way to celebrate WDI’s 35 years of continuous development and improvements. The first plan was to host a gala fund-raiser, which would include a fashion show, but after discussing the idea with a few shop owners, the direction changed.
“We decided to target the shops’ existing customer base in order for them to benefit,” he says. “I firmly believe that WDI should coordinate fund-raisers that benefit our downtown as a whole, in addition to our organization.”
In fact, he notes the event is not expected to generate tons of revenue, as general admission tickets are only $10 (VIP and seated tickets will be a little more, but there will be a limited number sold). “The desire is to showcase the existing retailers,” Hinnant says. “If they are successful, we are successful.” What money WDI does make will be used to entice businesses and people who may be looking to relocate here.
Seven at Seven also boasts the downtown start-up business Kickstand Events, made up of the partnership of Kate Matthies and Courtney Shaver. The women specialize in planning weddings.
“The young ladies at Kickstand have really embraced this event as their own and are supporting it for the same reason we are: to promote growth among our downtown retailers,” Hinnant says.
The event itself will consist of two back-to-back fashion shows: one showcasing daytime looks, and another with social and nighttime outfits. Seven local boutiques and shops will highlight the latest fashions, including looks from aMuse, Aqua Fedora, Elizabeth’s Ladies Boutique, Island Passage, Lure, Return Passage and Wonder Shop.
“We’re going to have a lot of color,” Jenna McKnight of Aqua Fedora says. “It’s all summer looks, but with so much color.”
Elena Wright, co-manager of Island Passage, says they’re taking their looks to the West Coast. “There’s gonna be a lot of orange, a lot of fringe,” she notes. “Overall, it’s a very California, beach-girl look.”
Kelsey Gibbs of Wonder Shop will show six looks each for day and night—“swimwear to evening, some crochet-type outfits, and white, flowy layers and fun prints.”
There will be items fit for many budgets and shoppers. However, Hinnant and company are certainly hoping to appeal to a different set of possible entrepreneurs. “We targeted apparel shops that cater to young professionals in Generations Y and Z,” he admits. “These generations will likely make a huge difference in the future of our downtown workforce, and we want to make sure our downtown is appealing to them. These are the folks who will live, work, eat, play and shop downtown.”
In addition, any and all other local businesses have been encouraged to participate. The courtyard at the Brooklyn Arts Center will be turned into an open-air marketplace for the night, featuring many pop-up shops. “Any downtown retailer, regardless of the product they sell, is encouraged to participate,” Hinnant explains. “The courtyard will be open before the show, during intermission and afterward. Shops can sell and vend their merchandise, or simply hand out collateral material promoting their business.”
For those who have not browsed through any of the retailers before will have a great opportunity to familiarize themselves with one of downtown’s many offerings. “encore readers are true downtown fans,” Hinnant adds, “and if you support downtown, you should attend this event. It is designed to grow our great downtown boutiques.”
General admission tickets are $10 and include entrance into the event at 7 p.m. Seated tickets are $20, and front-row seated tickets are $25. The big advantage comes with the VIP tickets, which allow for entrance into the Brooklyn Arts Center at 6:30 p.m. for light appetizers from local restaurants, the first opportunity to check out the pop-up shops, and a private seating area in the balcony. A limited number of VIP tickets are available, so it’s best to purchase them early at sevenatseven.eventbrite.com.