In a litter of puppies, Tampa Bay Fashion Week would be the scrappy one who refuses to get trampled.
The area's biggest style event has steadily grown over four years, surviving the economy and graduating from tents to a grand ballroom.
The designers have evolved, too, learning to balance big city fashion with the breezy aesthetic of where we are.
Tampa Bay Fashion Week starts Tuesday with a spate of parties and culminates Friday with a fashion show at Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor.
In the spirit of pushing through trying times (with a dash of Project Runway), we asked the designers to create high-fashion looks from size-XXXL Hanes men's undershirts. They could dye, shred and embellish, as long as they stayed true to their styles. After all, they know about making something from nothing. Here is what each designer says about their creation. To see photos of the designs, click through the slide show at right.
Kimberly Hendrix, 42, K.Hendrix in Palm Harbor and New York
"I used my fingers, one thread at a time. It's shredded and tea-stained. I just kind of like things destructed."
Trineice Cagua, 29, JCagua Swim in Leesburg
"I was going for more of a chic rocker look, something you could put on and feel feminine. These are the colors in my collection."
Dolly Donshey, 21, House of Donshey Custom Millinery in Tampa
"I'm a hat designer. I love accessories. Growing up, it was hard for me to fit in clothes, but shoes and hats always fit."
Essence Flowers, 35, Essence Flowers Inc. in St. Petersburg
"I took the T-shirt and overlaid it with gauze. My collection is called Imperfection. All of the pieces correlate to not being perfect. Flaws make character."
Renee Scarborough, 45, Two Coconuts Swimwear in St. Pete Beach
"I thought I'd make something that would be wearable. And a lot of people like blue. It's like the water and where we live."
Audrey "Pat" McGhee, 51, APM Images in St. Petersburg
"When I think of a T-shirt, it's casual. It's sporty. It's supposed to be fun. So I started thinking about denim."
Essence Flowers for Rhonda Shear, 56, Rhonda Shear Intimates in St. Petersburg
Flowers is a designer for the former Hollywood star's lingerie line. "She tells me what she likes. She'll call me at 2 a.m. with ideas," Flowers says.
Terri Funaro, 51, Terri Funaro Designs in Hernando
"I like clean lines. I like to show off the body, but you don't always have to show everything all at once."
Dali Hernandez, 33, House of Dali in Tampa
"I don't normally work with cotton, so I thought it was a little boring. I wanted to make something kind of fun and sexy. I used to be a dancer, so it's the ballerina in me."