By KACIE CLARK
Downtown isn’t the only place to explore Indianapolis’ burgeoning fashion and art scene. Recently, the spotlight was on Indianapolis’ northwest side as local fashion production company Midwest Fashion Week hosted “Global Fashion Indy,” an invitation-only event celebrating the vibrant international cultures represented in the Lafayette Square area. Put on in partnership with the International Marketplace Coalition (IMC) at their brand new 56,000 square foot Global Village Welcome Center, the evening featured an art exhibition, international food and beverages and a runway show featuring local designers of diverse backgrounds who expressed their unique cultures through fashion.
While large metropolitan centers are typically home to diverse cultures, suburbs are now seeing significant increases in foreign-born populations, and Indianapolis is no different. These individuals are often small business owners looking to make a better life for their families while also proudly sharing their heritage with others through food, craftsmanship and service. Coined in 2011 by the New York Times as a place “where the world comes to eat,” the northwest side of Indianapolis is also home to artists, musicians and designers whose talents are generally underrepresented in the city — and have very few opportunities to showcase them. The International Marketplace Coalition (formerly the Lafayette Square Area Coalition) is hopeful that the recent event is only the beginning of a much-needed change for Indianapolis and beyond.
“The city of Indianapolis is very diverse, and this event was about showcasing the diversity that we at the IMC have been celebrating since our founding in 2005. Fashion has always been a medium that we talked about but have never had a chance to explore, and the representation of Mexico, Pakistan, India, China, Africa, Haiti, Greece and America was well presented in the fashion show. We are thrilled with how it all came together because we truly believe the growth of these designers can stimulate more job creation within the community,” said Mary Clark, founder of the International Marketplace Coalition.
The event, hosted by radio and TV personality, writer, public speaker, and voice-over actress Erica Pierce, also featured live entertainment by the Indianapolis Chinese Performing Arts and Colombian harpist Rodrigo Hernandez. During the runway presentation, the collections of designers of various ethnicities were featured, including Marta Navarro (Marimar), Berny Martin (Catou), Elan Furs, Ethiopia “Ethie” Asmerom (Tsehai Design), Korka Diatta (Mosaan), Sadaf Khan (Sadaf Ayaz Khan), Mariah Jackson (Vivien Jackson) and Vestonia Davis-Richardson (NiLUV).
“This was a great experience and very inspiring for me. I have been in Indy for 20 years and have never been to a fashion event where communities from different backgrounds, specifically immigrants, were offered the opportunity to showcase their talent at no cost. We need events like this to create more diversity and inclusion in Indiana, especially on the northwest side of Indianapolis,” said designer Korka Diatta of the event.
Global Indy Fashion Show (Photos provided)
Catou designer and Midwest Fashion Week director Berny Martin is also optimistic that more events like this will be adopted in the city. “Indianapolis is bursting with talent. We’ve always known it was here, but in areas with fewer resources, it often goes undiscovered and unsupported. Our goal now is to find ways for these gifted individuals to share the unique stories they tell through their work. This means making more partnerships locally, domestically and internationally to see how we can help them grow, and this was a great first step,” Martin said.
Proceeds from the event will help the International Marketplace Coalition further its mission, as well as the Fashion Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides underprivileged youth with hands-on training in the area of fashion design.
“Fashion is an industry with the potential for immense growth in Indy and we are happy to support the work of Midwest Fashion Week and the Fashion Community Foundation as they create a platform for local talent to be recognized and nurtured through events like these,” Clark said. Looking ahead, Midwest Fashion Week anticipates the expansion of its international presence in the coming year and hopes that Indy residents will take a closer look at the vibrant cultures already present in their hometown.