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As Sacramento grows, our fashion week struggles to keep up. To explore possible solutions, we look to Russia and NYC, who are setting the standard for inclusive fashion and innovation in the industry.

Fashion provides an outlet for creativity and originality to address a vast worldwide consumer market. Although geographically separated, the fashion industry in Russia and locally in California, both provide opportunities for designers to embrace new ideas to address their respective markets. From technology to supply chain innovation, fashion markets have the power to enhance our experience of personal expression.

Moscow hosted the 37th season of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia in mid-October. What makes the up-and-comers of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia buzzworthy is their ability to define fashion on their own terms. This may mean crafting a genderless label, embracing technology to overcome disabilities, or bringing the local Post-Soviet aesthetic to the front row.

Mr. Alexander Shumsky, President of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia and Russian Fashion Council pays close attention to young talent since his early days in the business. Together with the Museum of Fashion, they presented “Futurum” an event dedicated to bringing the standout designers of the new generation to market. It is a platform that connects art, technology, and fashion. Young talent is the future of Russian fashion. Our goal is to create a platform for young designers to express themselves in a less traditional way than the Fashion Week format,” commented Shumsky.

Innovative developments from this program were the surprise hit of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia (MBFWR) this past season. The I-Inclusive collection debuted by Kseniya Bezuglova, provided high fashion for people with disabilities. Models showed the life-changing fashions created for wheelchair and prosthesis users. Further, innovations using technology showcased smart fabrics. The fabric, which is similar to a wet suit, had technology integrated into it that responded to a little device connected to the outfit, which then gave motion to the model’s damaged nerves in her fingers. Another notable innovation includes computerized-created vision which allows a blind person to “see” some of the world around them.

Other innovative programs included pop-up shops to showcase and create visibility for young designers and support consumer demand for locally-produced goods. These innovations are important because they encourage local designers and expand the local and Russian economy, overall. “Futurum is a huge opportunity for up and coming brands like mine, Otocycon and Volchok get the exposure we otherwise would not,” commented Lesya Volchok-Rusakovich.

In the Bay Area, there are two flagship schools for fashion designers, California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco and Oakland, and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Both schools educate talent who are poised to bring change to the local and international fashion industry.

We are proud to celebrate the newest voices in the fashion world with a cutting-edge, interactive installation experience. This year’s Fashion Experience addresses the relationship between fashion, culture, and social identities while debuting this next generation of audacious designers,” commented Lynda Grose, pioneer of sustainable fashion design and Program Chair at CCA.

Disposable fashion brands still account for the majority of the fashion industry in the US. However, programs are being developed to improve the sustainability and responsibility of fashion and improve the consumer experience of local and global fashion buying.

Similar to the Russian fashion trends, themes explored by young, Bay Area talent champion inclusivity and diversity, explore individuality, and incorporate life-changing experiences like those created by the recent California wildfires.

Students typically work collaboratively to problem solve on a range of challenges, from experimental technology fabric developments to virtual reality to new dressing and digital construction systems.

Across America, design and fashion colleges, and universities are changing the definition of fashion. Parsons School of Design’s Open Style Lab program in New York City strives to make style and accessible clothing available to people of all abilities through innovative collaborations.

Monday, February 18 marked the start of Sacramento’s annual Fashion Week. Sacramento Fashion Week states that it works closely with local higher education institutions to recruit and develop talent as well as provide an avenue for students to learn real-world skills.

Sacramento Fashion Week gives these young emerging designers from around California an opportunity to showcase their collections, many for the first time. Yet, year after year, there is a lack of local talent applying to participate in our Fashion Week. Possibly, SACFW can follow the model of a global Fashion Week and provide a platform like Moscow’s ‘FUTURUM’ that doesn’t just provide an opportunity to showcase their collection but also provides grants and education in execution to selected participants.

There is also room for improvement in the selection process of designers for our local Fashion Week. With so much talent in neighboring fashion institutions, there is a lot more creativity to be discovered at SACFW.

Every detail is crucial in the production of a successful show. Sadly, it didn’t take a trained eye to see the lack of attention to detail at past SACFW shows. From snagged nylons to visible tags, and freezing temperatures at the venue, the last few years of Sacramento Fashion Week haven’t helped this city dodge its small town stigma. With Sacramento on a trajectory of growth and culture, there must be a greater emphasis put on the fashion industry.

The hope is that Sacramento’s 2019 Fashion Week learned from its past shows, and will draw inspiration and organizational elements from the likes of cities such as Moscow, New York, and beyond. Regardless of its shortcomings, it is always exciting to see what each year will bring to the local runway. Regardless of the location, emerging talent today is truly changing the future of fashion.

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