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May 2, 2013

Fashion Week comes to Cleveland

Event spurs student interest in fashion curriculum

By Kelsey Smith

Cleveland Fashion Week starts on Friday, May 3 and runs through Saturday. May 11. Since the creation of Cleveland’s own fashion week in 2002 by Donald Shingler, a native Clevelander and a cosmetic dentist, the event has grown to be third biggest fashion event in the country, after New York City and Los Angeles.

Each year when Fashion Week is around the corner, Cleveland State University students interested in fashion and design start wondering, with all of the growth in Cleveland’s fashion industry, why does a school like Cleveland State not offer a fashion program?

Right now, the closest class to fashion design is “Costume Design and Construction,” offered through the Theatre Department. It is open to all students, but is only required of theatre students who are technical tracked. This class is taught by Teresa Pieritz, the costume shop supervisor in the Theatre Department.

“I do have several students who are interested in costuming as a career,” Pieritz said.

Pieritz added that costuming is different from fashion design, so it is difficult for her to compare the two.

“This is a guess here, but I think that there are no courses in fashion at CSU because there is no related department to support the faculty and facility needed,” Pieritz said.

Students in other departments are working to break into the fashion world as well.

Shayla Simmons, a sophomore English major, is volunteering with Fashion Week Cleveland as a designer’s assistant and general team member.

“I got involved with Fashion Week because I had considered becoming a fashion journalist, and I decided the best way to start getting involved with fashion was through the local Fashion Week,” Simmons explained.

Simmons believes that Cleveland State could benefit from adding some fashion-related courses.

“Adding such courses would diversify the curriculum and allow people interested in going into the fashion industry a chance to study what they love,” Simmons said.

Cleveland’s presence within the fashion community really started to take off when Cleveland native Valerie Mayen appeared on the eight season of the popular reality-competition show “Project Runway.” Mayen, who runs her boutique called Yellowcake in the Detroit-Shoreway District, finished seventh on the show and presented her spring/summer collection at New York Fashion Week in September 2010.

With a Cleveland-based designer making national headlines, Cleveland’s fashion week began to steadily grow in popularity.

The fashion-related events take place during the first week of May and have become the highlight Northeast Ohio’s growing fashion community.

Known as the “educational fashion week” since organizers use programs to educate the public on the innerworkings of fashion design, merchandising, consumerism and growth, Fashion Week events include exhibits, films, lectures, tours, workshops, and, of course, a runway show, which concludes the weeklong festivities. The events are held at various universities, museums and cultural institutions throughout the area.

“Fashion isn’t just haute couture,” Shingler explained to “Women’s Wear Daily." “There are elements of fashion in sports, in business, in cultural institutions. So, if you broaden what the term means, you can begin by including events at different institutions and other venues around the city.”

In the midst of the runway events, there will be a discussion on the importance of having four-year bachelor degree colleges with fashion design and merchandising courses in the area. Currently, the only colleges in Northeast Ohio with these programs are the University of Akron, Ursuline College and Kent State University.

Photo courtesy of www.ClevelandFashionWeek.com