The Founders of Jax Fashion Week Answer 7 Questions

February 19, 2013 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Tiffany Hager & Cristina Farrell have created an incredible event that spotlights Jacksonville designers and designers that are making a break into the industry. They've managed to create an event where local designers, buyers and opinion leaders can converge to develop Jacksonville's burgeoning fashion industry.

Tiffany Hager (left) & Cristina Farrell (right)

When did Jacksonville Fashion Week begin?
Cristina: JFW debuted March 23-26 2011 with events at the beach as well as downtown to sold out runway nights and great response from the community.

What inspired you and your co-founder to bring "Fashion Week" to Jacksonville?
Tiffany: Cristina and I grew up together and we both shared a love of fashion.  I had just started an online retail business and while researching events to get involved in, we noticed there were lots of local fashion weeks popping up around the country including Charleston (where we drew a lot of our inspiration from) and even our little hometown of Gainesville.  At the time, there were only one-night charity fashion show events being done but nothing cohesive that could spotlight the Jacksonville fashion scene in a big way like these events were doing in their respective cities.  So, in 2011 we set out to bring our vision to life and successfully launched the very first fashion week event in the city to sold-out crowds.  

Compared to last years concepts and aesthetics what makes Fashion Week 2013 different?
Tiffany: The goal of JFW is to constantly be growing and keeping things fresh with new events, new designers, and new event elements such as venues, special guests, team talent and production.  This year, for the first time, we found a venue that can house all of our week's events which is very exciting.  Additionally we've added a new event entirely devoted to showcasing accessory talent, thru designer presentations and an accessory shopping lounge.  An event exclusively spotlighting accessories has never been done before in Jacksonville.  We're also working to have our benefiting charities more involved in the events, than just a beneficiary capacity, by highlighting each one in a special way each night of the event.
Where do you foresee Fashion week in the future?
Cristina: I hope to see it continue to grow and flourish with new talent. We drew a lot of inspiration from Charlston Fashion Week which has become one of the largest fashion events in the SE, not to mention a big boost economically for them during that week as well. To see people like Fern Mallis and Elle Magazine attend their event is a testament to what they have accomplished. We strive to continue to head in that direction.  

Since the City of Jacksonville has a rich history in Fashion (Joseph LaRose -Shoes, Gunnell Humphries -Edge City, Whitney Thompson -- Top Model) plus the numerous up-and-coming designers today. Where do you see the local industry in 10 years due to the aforementioned individuals?
Cristina: I truly believe that like any city, fashion in Jacksonville will always be evolving. We can see that in some of our designers that have showed at JFW from year 1. Our goal is to create the best possible space for designers, artists and models to showcase their talent. We have been blessed to have had some of our city's celebrities supporting our event (Timo Weiland-designer, Whitney Thompson, Yoanna House-ANTM). We hope to see the city continue to grow, accept and support the local talent. You can see growth in past years from the success of the Town Center and then the coming Nordstrom. That there is enough of a want here to support a business of that caliber.

As a community how can we support and bring awareness to our local designers & boutiques?
Cristina: Attend trunk shows, attend events that showcase new designers, shop at boutiques, tell people what stores you love. We welcome buyers from local boutiques to attend our events. Some of our designers are carried or have been carried locally. We hope that what you see on our runway will be available to purchase at a boutique here in Jacksonville. If you ask any girl if she would rather buy a dress where there are 100 or 5 of the same thing, she will say 5. You want to feel unique and special and that the likelihood of you showing up at an event in the same dress as two others won't happen.

What will it take for fashion in Jacksonville to reach the "next level" of emerging fashion markets such as Portland, Austin, Minneapolis, Dallas?
Cristina: It's going to take businesses in town supporting events like ours. Invest in young designers and encourage the up and coming talent.

by Gerald Joseph