Let’s face it, there’s only one fashion capital of the Americas and that’s New York City, but what if another U.S. city wanted its own fashion week or expo? Could it also be successful? Yes! And for proof you wouldn’t have to look any further than Chattanooga, TN.
Having just wrapped their second season last week, Chattanooga Fashion Expo has become one of the premier fashion events in the region. But how did a small town that couldn’t be more opposite from The Big Apple develop such a successful event? Easy, it mirrored the structure of NYFW but improved the concept, and honestly, the entire reason for having it.
As one of the South’s newest fashion hubs, Chattanooga Fashion Expo is sought out for its highly curated array of exclusive styles, fresh talent, and leading recognized designers as well as local names in fashion – all handpicked to be showcased to the Chattanooga fashion sector.
Nov. 17 – It kicked off with an innovative fashion and hair presentation entitled “Hair Peace: The Black Hair Journey” hosted at the http://www.huntermuseum The show’s visionary, Demetrius X. Seay used his deep expertise in performance to create a Story of Resilience. Introduce New Narratives. Challenge Discrimination and Transform Culture. Emmy nominated Hairstylist, Andrea Mona Bowman, admired makeup artist, Tatiana Hernandez, renowned Model coach, Chery Jordan, celebrity designer, Romey Roe and praised choreographer Damien Kyle were all instrumental in this artistic expression.
Nov. 18 – Next was The Business and Future of Fashion Seminar which took place at THE EDNEY Innovation Center | Chattanooga, TN. It was an open forum panel discussions with Katie Ford as the moderator.
Nov. 19 – The prejudging of the Sustainable Fashion Show followed the next day at the Elea Blake studio with celebrity judges Shanna Forrestall creator of Chattanooga Fashion Expo, Dr. Daniel Barker of Wabi Sabi Medical Clinc, Sharnell Holland of Prêt-à-Porter and Sarah Johnson, Industry business management professional.
Nov. 20– A key theme this year was sustainability. It ended with an Evening with 13 emergent designers, who are shaking up sustainable fashion, took to the stage during Saturday night’s showcase, each presenting a capsule collection. Off the runway, The Swap Shop, a pop-up that featured the designers’ pieces, promoted sustainable consumption by giving customers the chance to purchase garments in real time.
Designers who showcased their collections at the main CFE show included: Elle Stovall, Kandyce Hudson, Jamie Rogers, Sokanarose, The Maasaistore, Gemstone Drippin, Laura Joyner, Knot Me Jewels, Morello & Co., among others.
One of the major highlights of our trip to Chattanooga last week was the amazing boutique hotel I stayed in, The Dwell Hotel. I got my heart set on staying at the boutique hotel back when I started planning the trip, and luckily, my friends kindly indulged me. Look at the website though…can you blame me? Full of historical details and simply bursting with charm, https://thedwellhotel.c provided everything you could want from a hotel and more – gorgeously themed and furnished room, wonderful staff, and sweet surprises like a in house restaurant/bar called Syrup and Eggs. I had a great experience in Chattanooga overall, and The Dwell served as the perfect backdrop for my trip.
After a whirlwind four days, all I can say is that the fashion world should take note of this town. Chattanooga Fashion Expo undoubtedly serves as a launching pad for many designers on their way to the runways in New York and Milan.
Can’t wait until next year’s festivities!
Yours in fashion,
Dr. Courtney A. Hammonds