Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Events

Ever flexible, Tampa Bay Fashion Week returns with new ideas

Last year brought a contraction of sorts for Tampa Bay Fashion Week, the annual glitzy strutting of our local design scene. Organizers cut out a major runway show in the spirit of experimentation.

This year, the pendulum is going the other way with not one, but two runway shows.

Now in its ninth year, the event returns Wednesday through Saturday. Change for the event is not new. Started in 2008, Tampa Bay Fashion Week has varied in nature each year since.

"We take the constructive feedback we receive from various participants around Tampa Bay Fashion Week, from the designers and sponsors to the audience," said Nancy Vaughn, principal of the White Book Agency and executive producer of Tampa Bay Fashion Week. "We look at what's happening in the industry overall, and in our market, and do the best we can to incorporate the feedback, adapt to the changes or just experiment with something new.

"It's just like anything in fashion. Some garments are wins, some things come in style again, and some outfits maybe you should never wear again."

This year, in addition to showcasing local designers' work, retailers from International Plaza including Neiman Marcus, Lilly Pulitzer and Free People will be featured in two runway shows at the mall Friday and Saturday. Local designers will be offering their spring-summer 2017 collections, while the retailers will showcase their fall-winter 2016 collections.

"The audience will have a chance to shop the looks from both designers and retailers now, purchasing their wardrobes for this upcoming season and custom-ordering what's new and next," Vaughn said.

Last year, Tampa Bay Fashion Week didn't include a runway show. Instead, designers were showcased in PURE Haus, a rotating trunk show for four days in a popup shop in International Plaza. The experience was an eye-opener for many of the local designers, who got a taste of offering their wares in a retail setting. They interacted with customers, and the introverted ones realized the value of a hiring a salesperson.

"They're important because people become engaged with the clothing," designer Elizabeth Carson Racker, who has participated in Tampa Bay Fashion Week since 2013, said of trunk shows. Racker, who has her own boutique in Tampa, designs custom, made-to-order pieces and specializes in evening wear.

While the popup was in keeping with the industry trend, some missed the glamor and exposure of a signature runway event.

"Some designers asked us to do both, but our event hasn't had the resources to do both — in money, staffing and time," Vaughn explained. "The popup made for extremely long back-to-back days for our team, too."

They opted to bring the night runway show back and add a second daytime event, with an emphasis on making it as simple as possible for customers to buy the looks during the event.

Organizers are using a new app called MeSpoke, which was developed locally. The app helps customers identify clothes in front of them and get to the designers' websites to shop. Customers can also shop more low-tech from their seats using runway cards with designer information on them.

Designer Tracy Negoshian straddles the local designer-national retailer line. Her eponymous brand was established in 2009, selling wholesale to boutiques across the country and online. The St. Petersburg resident now has three flagship stores: one in Naples, one at St. Armands Circle in Sarasota and another at Sundial in St. Petersburg. Her line, which features colorful printed clothing designed for women from their 20s to 60s, is also carried in Dillard's. She'll have the advantage of having people find her online, at her stores or right there in the mall during the event.

"Tampa Bay Fashion Week is great for the brand," Negoshian said. "As with a lot of brands, hanger appeal does specific styles no justice. Having women in the product and on the runway really brings the brand and style to life, and shows the style on a body."

Racker, whose resume includes showing in Ebony Fashion Fair, BET's Rip the Runway and New York Fashion Week, said the events have definitely helped expand her brand, from being in the runway shows to getting product placement in swag bags that attendees receive. And having her clothes shown at International Plaza is a bonus.

"I can honestly say, Nancy really focuses on the designers and gets us the exposure we need. . . . It's been one of the best show productions, and it's about getting people there and focusing on what's important. It's the show to do here."

Maggie Duffy can be reached at [email protected] Follow @mdalexis.

 
Comments
A fan's guide to the fun and celebrities at Tampa's NHL All-Star Game

A fan's guide to the fun and celebrities at Tampa's NHL All-Star Game

So you don’t have a ticket to the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Tampa, but you still want to feel like you’re in on the action. No problem. “Our mindset is, few are honored with a ticket to the game,” said Steve Mayer, the N...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Need a ride for Gasparilla? Captain Morgan, Lyft can help

Need a ride for Gasparilla? Captain Morgan, Lyft can help

TAMPA — Need a ride home after Gasparilla? The captain’s going to help with that.Captain Morgan Rum and Lyft have teamed up to give away $20,000 worth of discount ridesharing vouchers for Saturday’s Gasparilla Parade of Pirates.GASPARILLA: Check out ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Buckhorn refuses to give up Tampa keys to ‘deplorable’ Gasparilla pirates

Buckhorn refuses to give up Tampa keys to ‘deplorable’ Gasparilla pirates

TAMPA — Gasparilla is upon us and today those nasty ol’ pirates tried to take what they say ought to be theirs: the keys to our fine city.Mayor Bob Buckhorn wouldn’t let them go that easily. (At least not yet.) "I told those knuckleheads to come back...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 24

Bob Woodward: An appearance by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who broke the news of the Watergate scandal. 7:30 p.m., Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $29-$79. (727) 893-7832. Real Music Series: The Diamonds: The series featu...
Published: 01/23/18
How to make your own Gasparilla wreath

How to make your own Gasparilla wreath

The denizens of South Tampa sometimes refer to this time of year as Christmas-arilla, extending the life of Christmas decorations. With just a slightly sinister twist, trimmings are repurposed for Gasparilla and the parade of pirates that will wash a...
Published: 01/23/18
Struggling kumquat crop won’t hamper festival

Struggling kumquat crop won’t hamper festival

ST JOSEPH — A harvest that runs from November through March puts Greg Gude smack in the middle of what’s become a meager kumquat season, but he remembers a time when he was putting in 40-plus hours a week, and the groves and packinghouse at Kumquat G...
Published: 01/23/18
Hungry at Gasparilla? Eight great restaurants near the parade route

Hungry at Gasparilla? Eight great restaurants near the parade route

GASPARILLA: THE DINING EDITIONGasparilla. Some things are certain. There will be scantily clad pirates and liquid libations. At some point, it is advised to eat some food. Here are some of the top places that are easily accessed along the invasion ro...
Published: 01/23/18

Things to Do in Pasco and Hernando counties starting Jan. 26

FestivalsOdessa Powwow: The Spirit People Intertribal Family’s annual three-day powwow will be Jan. 26-28 at Gunn Highway Flea Market, 2317 Gunn Highway, Odessa. Gates open at 10 a.m. each day. Includes drumming, dancing, storytelling, trade blanket ...
Published: 01/23/18

Hernando County Greek Festival packs food and fun

BROOKSVILLE — What started eight years ago as a one-day indoor festival quickly grew and expanded to two, then three days.Its popularity most likely is the food and pastries, which often causes sudden outbursts of "Opa!"The three-day Hernando County ...
Published: 01/23/18

Hernando Events for Jan. 26

Events26 FridayBeginning Birding Hike: Join a member of the Hernando Audubon Society for a guided hike to find the feathered winter residents of Chinsegut. Program starts with a short observation session at well-stocked feeders then a walk to the vie...
Published: 01/23/18