Winston-Salem Fashion Week (WSFW) may be one of the best-kept secrets in this town. But if Nikita Wallace and Winston Cup Museum owner, Christy Spencer have anything to do with it – it won’t for long.
It is actually coming up on the fourth year for this fun event that showcases up and coming designers looking for exposure and a break in the competitive fashion industry. This year, for the first time, all 13 designers are North Carolinians. Wallace even has a waiting list of designers wanting to exhibit if anyone drops out. And we bet you didn’t even know that our city even had a fashion week!
How WSFW got its start
Wallace had the opportunity to move and work in the fashion industry in New York City. Over time, she landed a job with a company that worked with new/emerging designers looking to get exposure for their brand, get their garments in retail outlets and have them showcased during fashion week. This experience taught Wallace about what emerging designers needed to give their careers a jump start.
In 2007, Wallace moved to Winston-Salem and put her career in the industry on hold to focus on raising her children. Eventually, she went back to school at Salem College where she encountered the fashion talent of many young students at the school. This inspired her to put her industry knowledge to use and create the first Winston-Salem Fashion Week in 2015.
Although Wallace currently works part-time in the food industry, the annual Fashion Week event is her focus. It takes working with a team throughout the entire year for the event to fully come together. The process starts with Wallace doing a social media post in a couple of places to create a casting call for designers at the beginning of the year. Interested designers who respond submit portfolios and are interviewed, with Wallace having final decision on who is selected. Once she has her group of designers, she and the WSFW Management Team start planning the event starts planning the event with each of them and their design style in mind.
The event – September 21-30
Fashion week is actually more than just a one-day event. It truly is a week of activity. The weekend before the main fashion show, Wallace and her team hold an opening night event, similar to how they do it New York before fashion week. This year, the Winston Cup Museum is going to be the venue for the Opening Night Reception, which is free to the public. Attendees can meet the designers, who will all be on hand, and get a sneak peek at some of the fashion from models.
“I had driven past the museum so many times and wondered what the space was like, thinking it was just a garage or place where racecars were stored. I think the backdrop of the cars and memorabilia will give a different vibe to what fashion is all about,” shared Wallace.
How Christy Spencer got involved
“I love the idea of tapping into unknown and local designers and local artists and allowing them an outlet to showcase their talent. When I met Nikita over coffee last year, I was already excited to hear about WSFW. However, meeting her in person put my enthusiasm through the roof, as she is so vibrant and passionate about the mission for WSFW. You can’t help but get excited right along with her!
Nikita and I were introduced by a mutual friend, Mackenzie Cates-Allen, who is the brainchild and executive director of the Winston-Salem Ambassadors – which is another organization I have a passion for myself. Mackenzie told me that she had met someone that I needed to meet – and the rest is history.
The museum is the perfect place to have the Opening Night Reception because it’s really where Fashion Art meets Car Art! My husband, Will Spencer (car enthusiast and museum owner), has always stood by his belief that cars are mobile art. The museum is a fun place to host any event so having amazing clothing and fabulous people all gathered to celebrate creativity and fashion under the museum roof is going to be a serious fun event. We can’t wait!”
Among the local businesses that will be providing refreshments for the Opening Night Reception are Dewey’s Bakery and Foothills Brewing. Based on past attendance, Wallace expects over 300 people to mix and mingle on opening night. Candidate for US Congress and Winston-Salem Councilwoman, DD Adams, will be giving the welcome address.
On Thursday of Fashion Week, Wallace will be featured at Venture Cafe Winston-Salem. This free discussion will cover the impact fashion is having on the economic system as well as the sustainability of fashion in the community.
The actual fashion show occurs the weekend following opening night. Attendees to the two-day runway show will be treated to fashion from our North Carolina up and coming designers.
“It’s such a busy, fun, whirlwind weekend, “said Wallace. “We have over 350 people attend each day of the runway show.”
Fashion Week has proven to be instrumental in boosting the careers of the young designers who participate. Wallace shared that one designer from a previous show moved to New York and was featured in Vogue Italia and is presently dressing celebrities. Others have gone on to fashion weeks in cities, such as Charleston and have expanded their business as a result of the exposure.
“In the end, this event is helping to prepare these young, talented individuals for bigger platforms – and what I hope are exciting, successful careers. For me, it’s a thrill to be a part of that process.”