Around the world, spring is regarded as fashion season – a time when the new styles emerge and are featured in big-city fashion weeks. Finally, fashion has invaded Wilmington, North Carolina.
The first annual Wilmington Fashion Weekend (WFW), founded by local Style Consultant TJ Dunn, will take place in the start of April. Dunn moved to North Carolina’s Port City from Atlanta five years ago.
At the age of 29, Dunn says this is his first time executing a project of this caliber. “It’s been intense,” Dunn said. The event’s popularity is rapidly increasing after only being in the works since late Oct. 2013.
So, another fashion event, what’s the big deal?
Wilmington Fashion Weekend is different because its heart and driving purpose is to boost and enrich the local economy and community.
“It’s all about bringing the community together and providing an outlet for fashion. We’re creating a launching pad in Wilmington for models and hair, makeup, and fashion designers that have previously been overlooked,” Dunn said.
Wilmingtonfashionweekend.com states the event’s mission: “We want to put Wilmington, NC on the map as a leader in fashion. Our event will highlight emerging designers, local talent, accessories ateliers, and local boutiques. We plan on bringing hundreds of visitors to the region, helping our industry grow and continue to develop.”
The local focus has a two-pronged approach. Firstly, only North Carolina-based, local boutiques are being featured in the fashion and trunk shows. In addition, the models to be featured present an aggregate of hometown talent, both experienced and newcomers to the world of fashion.
One example of WFW’s efforts to work with the community was hosting an Emerging Designer Competition. Among seven contenders, an up-and-coming fashion legging designer Casey Crespo won and will be featured, giving her the opportunity to further reach the community; a challenging endeavor in the competitive fashion arena. For this competition, the team collaborated with Jessie from downtown’s Edge of Urge boutique.
Secondly, the WFW team has partnered with local non-profit organization Dreams of Wilmington. The organization offers a combination of after school programs and arts education for local students.
According to Press Secretary Alicia MacDonald, the fashion team has been helping DREAMS student participants make jewelry. During the event weekend, students will be gaining real-world experience in entrepreneurship as they market and sell their handmade crafts in the trunk show. Dunn said “We are incorporating some of their product in some of our fashion shows.”
In addition to corresponding with the press, MacDonald is TJ’s assistant. MacDonald said “I helped with the model fittings, respond to the main email account, and do other various tasks.” MacDonald is balancing all of these roles while still a senior in high school.
“The target audience is broad,” Chelsea Sule, WFW’s Team Manager said, appealing to everyone from, “high school students to the general community who regularly attends fashion events.” Sule, 26, is involved in various tasks from being the makeup artist, gaining sponsors, meeting with consultants, and marketing.
Full-time model and UNCW Senior Remington Jay Perregaux said Dunn, a business acquaintance, asked him to participate in the fashion shows. “I’m not sure if I can commit to modeling in Wilmington Fashion Weekend due to my other involvements,” said Perregaux, “but I will be attending to show my support 100 percent.”
Perregaux does not believe the event is on the radar of most UNCW Students – yet. “I haven’t talked about it to any students, but I actually heard someone mention it the other day around town when I was getting a haircut.”
In attempt to ensure the event is well and diversely-attended, ticket prices are being kept low. Individual event tickets range from $15-$25 and the all-access and VIP passes are $50-$65. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to DREAMS.
From the beach shops, to downtown stores, models will be showing off a bit of something for everyone. Some of the retailers working with the fashion weekend include Aqua Fedora, Bloke, Bijuju, Edge of Urge, Gentlemen’s Corner, Lula Balou, Lure, Sweetwater Surf Shop, and Southern Frog.
Overall, Wilmington Fashion Weekend is setting the stage for the fashion and design scene in the Port City and will serve as a benefit to many in the community.