Philly Fashion Week provides launchpad for designers and models of color

Runway couture and high design lovers are celebrating 10 years of innovative fashion this week with the return of Philly Fashion Week.

Guests and designers from around the world will be able to see various Philly-themed fashion shows across the city. Genos’ Steaksis even making room for a grand runway at their famed cheesesteak spot.

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“It amazes me how far this has taken off,” said Kevin Parker, 29, founder of Philly Fashion Week (PFW), which is running now through Sept. 4. “Philly has been so deserving of this spotlight and I’m happy to have kept believing in it each year.”

Parker was 18yearsold when he first conceived the idea to create a week that showcased the “best of Philly fashion.” He is now part owner of FBH-The Agency, with fashion guru, Kerry Scott, that is the producing company of top fashion events in Philadelphia.

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Even though New York Fashion Week (NYFW) has the standard across America for fashion spectacles and showcases, Kevin was determined to “give the city a chance to show its difference.”

“All fashion weeks are different and should be that way – we’re not trying to copy New York Fashion week because the designers in Philly have their own style and taste to give the runway,” Parker added.

Some of the notable distinctions at PFW are the increased diversity of the models, body types and designers that are featured each year. Parker said it is crucial to have such inclusion “because that reflects the city and world we should live in.”

“Talent is talent.I’m proud to say that my team and I have given many of the designers/models of color a place to launch their careers within this extremely competitive fashion industry,” Parker said.

“Every year I come out and the event never ceases to inspire me,” said local designerIan Alexander, 23. Alexander, who has been doing PFW for the past 3 years, credits the event for giving him celebrity clients and global exposure.

“My work has been featured in the recent Lil Mama music video and on America’s Next Top Models … All this came from someone who saw my designs on that runway,” Alexander said.

This notable impact has led to Parker finally receiving the huge corporate sponsors, such as Macy’s and Ritz-Carlton, something he has always wanted to help make this event “something to gawk at.”

“Some of the setbacks I initially had when starting this event were getting local and major sponsors to help endorse and support this … It took time, but the gradual build has made me more business savvy and invested in making this event soar,” Parker said.

However beyond the recent sponsorship boost, Parker’s personal highlight at this week’s event is being able to honor and recognize his mentor and advocate Fern Mallis, creator of NYFW.

“Getting the chance to honor her with the PFW Icon Award and her being willing to come out and support this event validates how this city is becoming a fashion force to be reckoned with,” Parker said. “It’s been 10 years, but we’re finally ready to take the runway!”

PFW Event Highlights

Sept. 1:
-Fashion Wit Geno’s – outdoor fashion show and block party

1219 S. 9th St.,7 p.m.-10 p.m.

Sept. 2:
-Luxe Men’s Runway Show – all white event.

​Ritz Carlton Hotel, 10 Avenue of the Arts,7 p.m.

Sept. 3:
-Fern Mallis press reception, award ceremony, book signing and fashion presentation

Macy’s,1300 Market St., 5 p.m.

-Ready-to-wear runway show

Crane Arts Building,1400 N. American St, Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.

Sept. 4:
-Couture Runway Show

Crane Arts Building, 1400 N. American St, Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.

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