Sat 4/30 – Sat 5/7
CoolCleveland discount $5 (regular price $15) for Fri 5/6 for all-inclusive ticket to A Night At The Museum includes admission to all Western Reserve Historical Society museums, Retail’s Night Out, vintage clothing sale, cash bar, and exclusive curator guided tour. Click here to purchase tickets before 5/5 for discount.
When one thinks of fashion, New York City, London and Paris come to mind. However, for the past dozen years, Donald Shingler has done his best to add Cleveland to that list. While such a statement may seem ludicrous or hyperbolic at face value, the truth is that the Cleveland-based cosmetic dentist’s dream has become a reality.
Fashion Week Cleveland boasts a mission to inform consumers and industry leaders about the cultural importance and economic importance of fashion design, manufacturing, marketing and merchandising.
This year’s Fashion Week Cleveland, which takes place Sat 4/30 through Sat 5/7 at different Cleveland venues, naturally includes designer runway shows at the Arcade, as well as a slew of other posh events. But there’s something even more special that seemingly legitimizes the affair in industry circles.
The centerpiece of Fashion Week Cleveland is invariably keynote speaker Fern Mallis, a New York City fashion industry leader and insider. She’ll be headlining the Fashion Week Cleveland Speaker Series at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland, as well as signing copies of her new book Fashion Lives: Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis.
CoolCleveland talked to Donald Shingler about Fashion Week Cleveland.
What does Fashion Week Cleveland mean to Northeast Ohio?
In my opinion, there’s New York Fashion Week, an industry event in an industry town. And then in the United States, there’s another industry-respected fashion week called Fashion Week Cleveland that focuses on education. The industry in New York City and all over the country is all about this Fashion Week Cleveland thing.
Industry leader Fern Mallis will be in town as this year’s keynote speaker. How significant is that for Fashion Week Cleveland?
She coined the term “Regional Fashion Week” to describe Fashion Week Cleveland and other regional fashion weeks that have followed. In some ways she’s the creator of New York Fashion Week, and she’s coming to the first regional Fashion Week in the United States. Her importance to the industry is so much greater now. It’s really special to have her here. She’s the foremost influence-maker, if you will, of the industry. Having someone of that stature coming out and giving the keynote is very important to us, and very important to Fern Mallis.
What other events of note are planned for this year?
We have an educational program at the Halle Costume Museum [at the Western Reserve Historical Society.] Also, we will show the film Valentino; The Last Emperor on fashion and retail at Crocker Park Cinemas. Then, of course, we have 12 designer runway shows, a Night at the Museum at Western Reserve Historical Society on May 6 (CoolCleveland 66% discount available), and an industry style runway show on May 7.
What type of attendance does Fashion Week Cleveland enjoy?
We have brought more than 10,000 people to our events thus far. This year, 5,500 people will attend films, seminars, museum exhibits and runway shows, while 550 will attend our designer runway shows at the Arcade.
Take us back 12 years to when you started what would become Fashion Week Cleveland.
Really, on my end, it was to promote downtown retail in a city that was not only void of retail but void of people. It was a way to bring folks downtown. That was the kind of big-city event that just wasn’t seen anymore. We saw black and white pictures of Lucille Ball at a runway show at the downtown Higbee’s or maybe Judy Garland at a fashion show at another department store. But the idea of the big-city runway show really disappeared, and it certainly wasn’t in Cleveland. I wanted to bring that back. I wanted to bring something unique to the city and that’s what we did. Originally it was just retail fashion shows and simply called the Cleveland Fashion Show.
What kind of reaction did you receive when telling people about your vision for the Cleveland Fashion Show?
I would say it was very similar to when the Rock Hall decided we’re going to make a hall of fame for rock musicians. What does that mean? And they probably had to explain nobody has done that before but think of Cooperstown and the Football Hall of Fame and then you’ll understand where we’re coming from. So what I did was I had this single day of retail shows that were called the Cleveland Fashion Show. That started in 2002. People were coming to a big-city event downtown. It was sold out for two years in a row. And then in 2004, we became a Fashion Week.
Looking ahead, where does Fashion Week Cleveland go from here?
We’re going to continue to draw folks from across the country, such as industry insiders and educators. Also, we’d like to increase our speaker series. Maybe you’d see say Kate Spade speak at the Museum of Art, Rachel Zoe speak at Severance Hall and Calvin Klein at the Rock Hall. We’re hoping to create a really educational event that draws people from across the country, but those people who are leaders and educators and executives.