Kansas City Fashion Week won’t grab the attention of fashionistas until October, but that isn’t stopping Oak Park Mall from keeping the spotlight on fashion here in the Midwest while temperatures heat up this summer. The popular shopping destination at 95th and Quivira partnered with Kansas City Fashion Week and the Kansas City Fashion Council to launch a contest promoting local emerging fashion designers.
Five designers are participating in the inaugural “Make It Yours” Designer Challenge. Each designer will participate in weekly themed fashion design challenges that showcase their skill and creativity at Oak Park Mall through June. Along with the opportunity to win weekly challenge prizes, the top designer will earn a contest grand prize that includes a spot in Kansas City Fashion Week’s fall show.
The best part? Your vote will help decide the winner of the coveted slots in one of the S/S ’18 Collection Runway shows at Kansas City Fashion week, Oct. 9 to 14.
“Oak Park Mall reached out to us to partner with the contest,” said Annette Pinter, production director for the city’s Fashion Week. “KC Fashion Council is the charity partner for KC Fashion Week, so it was a great collaborative effort to get the contest launched.”
In the first two weekly challenges, the designers were asked to transform a Royals T-shirt into a designer frock and blend two different cultures into one look for a “culture fusion.” Voters can view each challenger’s designs for the week inside the mall’s lower level center court and online at the mall’s website.
Votes are taken by texting DESIGN and the number of the entry chosen to 444-222. Look for the newest weekly challenge on Mondays.
The five designers participating in the contest have various backgrounds in fashion and art.
Maret Cissner is a regional coordinator for admissions at the Kansas City Art Institute. Cissner graduated from the institute with a bachelor’s in fine arts in Ceramics in 2013.
Crystal Brakhage graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2016. She is a recent Fashion Week participant and showcases her designs in runway shows throughout Nebraska and Missouri.
Cierra McMichael has a background in business and fashion design and aims to help Kansas City become an epicenter of garment manufacturing.
Contest designers Rachel Pollak and Natasha Mwashighadi both have roots stemming from the Fashion Merchandising & Design program at Johnson County Community College. Pollak is from Overland Park and her debut collection won first place in JCCC’s annual fashion show. Mwashighadi enrolled in the fashion program at JCCC at the age of 15. She will graduate this year and plans to continue her education in Boston.
KC Fashion Week President Teisha Barber says the response to the challenge has been great so far. Barber has been promoting the contest through social media websites. and she worked with Oak Park Mall to develop the prizes designers can take home.
“You can expect prizes from many of the retailers within Oak Park Mall as well as various KCFW sponsors that we are working with to donate prizes,” Barber said.
Previous sponsors of the Fashion Week have included the Kansas City Chiefs, Union Station, Visit KC, and local television and radio stations. Kansas City Fashion Week hosts two weeks of runway shows and fashion parties each year. The multi-day fashion showcase is one of the largest events for designers, models, and industry leaders in the Kansas City area.