Fashion Week kicks off in Chicago - New York News

Fashion Week kicks off in Chicago

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago Fashion Week kicked off Tuesday night with a runway fashion show in downtown Chicago.

Glitz and glamour always surround a fashion show, but Chicago Fashion Week isn't striving to be like the high-end celebrity-magnet fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan, or Paris.

"We invite people from the public to come to our fashion shows which is very unusual," Ysaguirre says. "In most of the cities, you can't get ticket to a fashion event."

Angel Ysaguirre works for Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, which is hosting the five day event. He says the city has two main goals. The first is to support local emerging designers.

Tuesday night's kick-off showcased some of the best Chicago has to offer, including the latest designs by Maria Pinto. The native Chicagoan was thrust onto the world stage after Michelle Obama wore several of her dresses.

"I think being in Chicago as an artist, the community really supports everyone who live and work here, so I think by bringing more attention to the emerging designers, giving them a chance to have exposure certainly helps everyone," Pinto says.

Pinto just re-launched a new brand M20-57 by Maria Pinto through a Kick Starter campaign. She contemplated making her comeback in New York, but she is here to stay.

Designer Shernett Swaby launched her label in Chicago four years ago.

"The city is so hungry for fashion, you actually get a chance," adds Swaby. "They want to see your work. In New York, there are too many designers there, you get lost so quickly."

Ysaguirre says the second goal is to have Chicago Fashion Week appeal to all kinds of consumers and not just the big spenders. One series of fashion shows will focus on larger women.

"Chicago has the largest market for shoppers of color, so African-American women and Latinas spend more money in fashion in Chicago than in any other city," Ysaguirre says. "So, we need to tap into those customers."

Ysaguirre expects Chicago Fashion Week to take on a personality of its own. He says there are several things that make Chicago Fashion Week unique: it's support of local designers, organizers actually going out and finding emerging designers to showcase from the four Chicago design schools, and it's showcasing of men's fashion. There are many fashion events catering to the male audience and that is not common.

The fashion shows begins Wednesday and runs through Friday evening at Millennium Park. They are free to get in, however, you do have to get a ticket.

For a schedule of Chicago Fashion Week events and ticket information: FashionFocusChicago.org.

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