Fashion Community Week is a fabulous force for good. Twice a year, the nonprofit hosts events typical of an international fashion week. There are fashion shows and fancy cocktail parties and industry conferences — all at high-profile venues like The Clift Hotel and the Fairmont San Francisco. But the difference lies in who is putting the shows on and who is benefitting.
Instead of established marketing machines, FCW is organized by students of Hult International Business School in San Francisco. And instead of well-known fashion labels and supermodels strutting the cat walks, the student coordinators recruit emerging fashion designers and models, providing them a platform to shine.
Every six months, a new team of students coordinates a new group of designers and models to create an entirely new showcase. Behind all that hard work, 14-year fashion industry vet Shirin Hashem is the quiet foundation. Hashem founded FCW as a sort of nonprofit fashion industry incubator, to provide opportunities for emerging talents in business, fashion design, and modeling. As a Saudi Arabian woman who moved to the United States immediately before 9/11, she experienced real challenges as a result of the social and political environment. Providing opportunity — especially for women and underrepresented groups — is her passion and the impetus for founding FCW. Each spring and fall, a new set of students and designers work together to pull off that season's Fashion Community Week. Each season, the team selects another nonprofit that will receive proceeds from event tickets. For spring 2019, the Princess Project, which outfits teens in need with prom and formal wear, was the beneficiary.
This year, FCW took place March 13-16. Events included a press and designer meet and greet, an industry conference for fashion startups to pitch ideas to venture opportunities and receive mentoring, and runway fashion shows Friday and Saturday nights. In total 11 designers were showcased over the weekend, with talent hailing everywhere from San Francisco to Bulgaria to Korea. Shannon Ashford, creator of Los Angeles company Tomfoolery (Tomfoolery.la), took home the Best Designer Collection Award on Friday evening. Ashford's line of women's drop-seat rompers and jumpers was designed to eliminate the pain of removing all clothing just to use the restroom. The clever design unties at the waist with a drop seat that's joined at the crotch. "I hand sew and hand paint each of my jumpsuits," said Ashford. The cotton blend Ashford works with is from Thread International — a company that ships recycled plastic out of Haiti and processes it into soft, wearable fabric. "I have always loved to sew and studied art in college. I love jumpsuits but hated that I had to take off everything in a public bathroom stall. I came up with the idea and started creating a prototype. I launched Tomfoolery in 2017."
An East Bay highlight included 24-year old emerging model Justyce Key (Instagram @justycekey), an economics student and multidisciplinary artist, walking for both Chicago label Kucci Bu and Oakland brand Accent. Gretchen Key, his mother, watched Friday night from the audience. "He's always been an athlete, playing basketball," said Key, "but only recently started modeling for Bosk and Oaklandish. Friends encouraged him to audition for FCW, and now we're here tonight. He's committed to school but also wants to continue pursuing modeling."
In the ready-to-wear department, new Bay Area brand Accent shone. The design duo sources vintage and secondhand blazers, coats, and vests as the base for its one-of-a-kind creations. Accent mixes and matches fabrics, textures, and finishes for chic outerwear looks that range from high fashion to casual. Partner Chris Ategeka (organizer for TedXOakland, mechanical engineer, and serial entrepreneur) and Keren Southall (actress, dancer, model) source and hand-sew all the pieces. "Our looks are made sustainably and ethically," Southall said. "We're about re-use." FCW was their debut show, so be sure to check them out AccentStyles.com and Instagram @accentstyles7. Painters Seol, Fashion House Elena Hristova, Mia Maree Couture, Fabric Davinci, Guadalupe Ramirez, Kucci Bu, Agaati California, Willam Lei, and Anomis Clothes were the other talented designers showcased. For information about the remaining designers or to get involved with an upcoming iteration of Fashion Community Week, visit www.FCWSF.org.
Dandelion Post debuted its new location Feb. 19. Loyal fans can expect the same well-curated brands of the apparel and accessories boutique, but with the coming warm weather you'll also find new items from spring lines. Owner Jaime Levine's current favorite is a chic and versatile black jumpsuit made by New York label Loup. As for spring styles, shoppers will find on-trend wide leg jeans, tops in golden yellow and plaid, and a modern take on the flowy peasant blouse.
"We have more space for jewelry, so expect to see a more expansive collection," shared Levine. Beyond traditional selections in brass and gold — from designers like Sarah Safavi — you'll now find work from San Francisco silversmith Denise Heffernan. Explaining the reason for the move Levine said, "We really liked our previous location (on Telegraph Avenue), but we didn't have the same kind of community and opportunities for walk-by traffic we have here. Also, our old location was split into two rooms. Now we have one big room and separate office space, which works so much better for our shop."
Stop in and shop any day except Monday, or pop in for a designer pop-up during spring. Pop-up announcements will be on Instagram (@dandelion_post) with a partylike atmosphere and refreshments. What's more, you can scope the gorgeously colorful mural by Berkeley artist Alex Steele (@alexsteele) painted just for Dandelion Post. 421 40th St., Oakland, 510-858-3742, www.DandelionPost.com.
EM Deli & Catering has moved its Oakland location to Montclair Village. Pop in for lunch and select from pre-made Korean foods in the hot case such as spicy pork rice bowls (deopbap) or kimchi fried rice. In the cold case you'll find prepared and packaged Korean side dishes (banchan), sushi-like rolls (kimbap), and fresh and marinated meats, like barbecue galbi and pork belly for cooking at home. The grocery has a wide selection of frozen Korean foods — the octopus dumplings looked especially good — specialty Korean snacks and desserts, juices and teas, and Korean spices and condiments. Stop in, say hello, and pick up some tasty treats. 6119 La Salle Ave., Oakland, 510-834-3651, www.EMDeliCatering.com.
Fashion Community Weekfeatured emerging designers. Photo courtesy Fashion Community Week.