‘Fashion capital’ refers to the cities that hold fashion weeks to showcase their industry. They are major influences on international fashion trends. Design is overwhelmingly concentrated in these superstar cities, as are design schools and fashion magazines, along with a local market of affluent consumers. When we talk of fashion capitals Paris, Milan, London and New York immediately come to mind.
There is no denying the retail, economic, and fashion spending power that Orange County packs. Although economically integrated with Los Angeles, Southern California’s wealthiest county stands alone as it continues to define its own fashion strength, revealing its own potential for Orange County to be the newest player among the prestigious group of fashion capitals.
OC Fashion Week® president Kathy Marino points out that if fashion capital status was based on retail spending, then Orange County would be a fashion capital too.
“The OC has become one of the most sought-after global destinations for retail shopping and the fashion industry has taken note,” Marino says. “Orange County is a leading fashion capital, not only in the U.S. but on a global scale. It is a leader in the retail markets and that is, quite frankly, indisputable.”
Marino cites some impressive data from the Chapman University Anderson Center for Economic Research to back her claims. Orange County is a leader in Southern California business activity, churning out an incredible $195 billion economic output annually. Retail sales account for about a third of that figure.
“Orange County Fashion Week® is centered on a metropolis of significant retail economic output that can justify not only its purchasing power over and above fashion capitals in leading countries, but it can also justify fashion tourism and international commerce.”
The nation’s fifth-largest county has an established and prosperous hub of new technology, life science and aerospace industries, along with a strong finance and real estate sector. It is home to Disneyland and the County’s glorious 40-mile coastline is peppered with surf beaches and marinas. The OC is enriched with a broad mix of business, financial services, entertainment, cultural and leisure activities. The vast shopping mall, the South Coast Plaza, is the highest grossing shopping center in the US, reaping in an astonishing $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Shoppers fly in from every corner of the globe to shop at the Plaza’s high-end retailers such as Gucci, Tiffany & Co and Armani.
“Orange County isn’t getting the fashion industry branding it is due.” Marino says fashion center rankings are so often based on the volume of internet popular keyword searches which are notoriously unreliable indicators of purchasing power. “Nor is OC receiving acknowledgement for its billions of dollars in luxury apparel spending. The County is a viable global market and destination and the Orange County Fashion Council is its greatest supporter – we exist to support local emerging talent and bolster international commerce and exchange.”
One of OCFC’s latest initiatives is the Fashioned for the Future program, the finale highlight of OC Fashion Week® which allows some of the industry’s most exciting budding talent to showcase their work for the chance to debut a full show and complete runway 24-piece collection in the Spring/Summer 2016 Season on the main stage of OC Fashion Week®. These designers team with expert mentors to engage in project management activities; they get to take their creative ideas out of the classroom and into the design studios – here they get a taste of the fierce competitiveness needed to survive the high-fashion world.
“It’s important to us that these emerging creatives are provided with more than just schooling and hope, and maybe a bit of work experience. We want to give them more. We want to challenge them, make them accountable for the execution of their work on a much higher level. We are teachers, mentors and the ultimate platform from which brands can launch and prevail.”
Judges for the Fashioned for the Future competition are from local fashion colleges and key retail industry purveyors as Fashion Director Renee Young Fullerton College, Professor Fashion Merchandising, Diane McGroarty Saddleback College and key retail and beauty industry purveyors as Rachel Brumbaugh Regional Academy Director of Toni & Guy Hair Dressing Academy, Sarah Pyle Education Director, Principal owner, Ariane MacDonald of Dawson Cole Fine Art, CEO Manna Kadar of Manna Kadar Cosmetics, CEO of Betinnis in Brea, Chadia Almeddin, Publisher Christina Mathias of Runwayz magazine, and Greer Wylder, owner of OC’s main featured blog Greer’s OC.
OC Fashion Week®, March 13-16, celebrates a new season of talent design and style and is proudly presented by Maserati of Newport Beach. The event includes 26 fashion designers and Fashioned for the Future, presented by the Art Institute of California (AOIC), Orange County with the gracious support of AOIC fashion director Mary Ann Gale.
There are numerous catwalks among luxury venues around the county, including the five-star The Resort at Pelican Hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From the opening night to the last, guests will enjoy the glamour and luxury of high fashion alongside the artwork of internationally renowned sculptor Richard MacDonald at Dawson Cole Fine Art Gallery & Sculpture Garden. In addition, this year will see the 2nd Annual Pandemonium: World of Fashion Photography Awards, hair presented by Toni and Guy Hairdressing Academy, make- up by Manna Kadar Cosmetics, and accessory styling presented by Betinnis in Brea. Orange County charities Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Orangewood Children’s Foundation are beneficiaries of the week-long event and the premier fashion television show Fashionista Now Boarding® will televise all the action to 16 million households, on and off the catwalk.