Sisters on the Runway's Annual Fashion Show Is Here & You Need to Check It Out

The 8th Annual Sisters on the Runway Benefit Fashion Show will be taking place next Saturday on April 7, and I’m already bursting with excitement thinking about what it has in store! For those who aren’t familiar with SOTR, it is a student-run organization that works to raise awareness about domestic violence and support survivors of domestic abuse. Since its founding in 2010, the UMass division of SOTR has worked tirelessly to plan events throughout the year that fundraise for survivors, raise awareness and celebrate the organization’s mission of empowering others to change the odds. The UMass division is most known for the annual benefit fashion show that it organizes to support Safe Passage, which is a domestic violence victim shelter in Northampton.

The show has had a special place in my heart ever since I joined SOTR back in 2014. I was a freshman with no idea what I wanted to do with my time at UMass, as my major was undecided back then and I wasn't sure what clubs were most interesting to me. I remember seeing the Sisters on the Runway booth that was set up at the activities expo and thinking, Well I like fashion, why don’t I try that? That year, I joined SOTR as a member of their general body, and I quickly found out that the organization’s mission centered around more than just putting on a fashion show every spring. SOTR aims to educate people about the fact that currently 1 in 3 women, regardless of community, age, gender or race, are affected by domestic violence in their lives. It also strives to inform others that men are survivors of domestic abuse too. These facts are often overlooked by society because domestic violence doesn't get much support or recognition by media, and SOTR, through the growth of its national organizations and college branches like ours at UMass, aims to bring about public awareness to the issue in the hopes that the statistics change.

Domestic abuse survivors aren't confined to being victims for the rest of their lives. This event showcases how, through support and inner strength, many have the ability to go on to live healthier lives. Their strength is represented throughout the fashion show by student models who show off the latest fashions and trends. The runway models represent the beauty of survivors and supporters of domestic violence prevention who are brave enough to advocate for much-needed change. The presence of domestic violence in the world cannot take away the beauty and confidence of those affected, nor can it diminish their passions in life and their ability to feel beautiful inside and out. The celebration of these ideas embody the spirit of the fashion show and are what separates it from other runway shows within the fashion industry.

In addition to honoring SOTR’s mission, the fashion show gives guests an unforgettable experience. Held in the Campus Center Auditorium, guests coming to the show have the opportunity to dress up and pose for pictures on a red carpet. The organization provides student photographers who take as many pictures as guests desire. These pictures are uploaded to the SOTR Facebook page afterward. This gives attending Collegiettes an excellent reason to put on their cutest outfits and pose with their friends. While dressing up is not a requirement, doing so is part of the fun. Who knows, you may get a perfect Facebook profile picture out of it!

Alongside the red carpet affair, UMass Dining and Sweets N' More provides treats and mocktails for guests. The desserts are ridiculously amazing, and my personal favorite is the mini macaroons — I must have eaten hundreds of them over the years, they’re just that good. As if that weren't enough, guests who attend also receive a free SOTR gift bag as a thank you for supporting the cause. This favor is usually one of the organization’s famous tumblers with the SOTR logo embedded on the front. There are also fun treats inside; past goodies have included candy, SOTR laptop and bumper stickers, and phone pop-sockets among others!

Guests are also able to enter into raffles for a chance to win a variety of items and gift baskets. Past raffles have included items from Kate Spade, Keurig, and Yankee Candle. These raffles are another way for the organization to raise funds for Safe Passage, and it also gives guests a chance to support the cause while walking away winning some fabulous items!

There are also various RSOs that perform at the show, as they support and share similar missions with SOTR. This year we have two acapella groups performing, as well as a dance crew and skits performed on the subject of domestic violence awareness. The inclusion of these groups in the show helps to prove that it takes a community to make a difference and that the UMass community promotes the efforts of the organization to benefit Safe Passage and work towards creating a change regarding the issue of domestic violence.

All the features of the show help to make the event an exceptional experience for everyone. Most importantly, it brings the campus community together to change the odds regarding domestic violence. I am beyond proud to be one of SOTR’s co-presidents and be directly responsible for organizing the show and supporting the organization’s mission. I couldn't do any of this without my incredible co-president, Chelsea White, our amazing executive board, our models for the show, and fellow Collegiettes who also care about speaking out to raise awareness to this important issue.

I invite all Collegiettes to attend Sisters on the Runway’s 8th Annual Benefit Fashion Show on April 7th! The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets go on sale at 5 p.m. that day. They are $15 for any university student with an ID from their school, so be sure to invite your friends too! It is going to be a wonderful night full of celebrating, surprises, and support for domestic violence awareness.

All photos courtesy of the Sisters on the Runway UMass Division Facebook page.