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Fashion in Charlotte

Designers bring their craft and artistry to the Queen City scene

Did you know Charlotte has a fashion scene?

It’s understandable if you’ve been in the dark until now — asked to describe the style of the average Charlottean, many of us would think first of the on-a-good-day-possibly-slightly-less-dull-than-dishwater uniform of the mid-level banker. Do a little digging, though, and you’ll uncover a surprising wealth of vibrant creators, small studios housing big dreams and a population of eager consumers simply clamoring to be a part of it.

The pole star of this small but growing world is our very own biannual Charlotte Fashion Week (CFW). This year’s fall event is scheduled for Sept. 25-29, on the heels of corresponding events first in New York City then in London, then in Milan, Italy. Admittedly, those three may enjoy somewhat greater brand recognition than CFW, but bringing haute couture home confers at least one major advantage: these designers, our designers, have the pulse of the city. Creators and consumers don’t exist on separate planes.

While many of those who participate in CFW — which takes pride in declaring that a sizeable portion of its proceeds go to charity — are unashamed of their aspirations to win a place among the sparkling lights of Paris or the neon glow of New York City, others desire nothing more than to craft their lives, their businesses, and their art right here. They are the ones who bring Charlotte fashion to life.

They, and the creatives bringing us wearable art through arguably less mainstream avenues. This July, for instance, AfricStyle Initiatives and NoDa Creative Arts Studio will present their third annual summer fashion show, with this year’s event drawing inspiration from the unconquerable spirit of Wakanda.

Clothing enthusiasts seeking to experience Queen City fashion would do well to attend not only these two events, but as many more out of the dizzying array of options as they can manage before wearing through the soles of their carefully chosen shoes. At its best, the local style scene, in all its exquisite diversity, abides by one simple rule. It’s not fashion in Charlotte. It’s fashion of Charlotte.

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