Designer Yennie Zhou’s fashion line at Sacramento Fashion Week 2012. Photo by Kondrya Photography.
Are you a Project Runway fan? Do you enjoy mimicking Heidi Klum’s posh composure and the famous way she proclaims, “You’re out?” If so, this next week was created for you. While you won’t be determining anyone’s fate, you will be witnessing their beautiful artwork in motion.
Sacramento Fashion Week (SACFW) begins this Sunday evening with a launch party at Mix Downtown and the faculty behind the grand event is busy pulling the finishing touches together. This Sunday evening kicks off a week that includes a fashion forum, hair and make up workshops, a boutique show and shop, and ends with extraordinary designer showcases.
With all the anticipation leading to Sacramento Fashion Week, who better to consult than the creative mind behind its branding? Luckily, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with SACFW’s Creative Director, Will Rodriguez, who took time out of his increasingly hectic schedule to answer some questions:
Alexandra Auger: As the Creative Director for SACFW (on top of your full-time day job as Design Engineer for Weidner Architectural Signage) you must have a passion for fashion. How and when did your love for fashion develop?
Will Rodriguez: My love for fashion really started just a couple of years ago. As a designer, I naturally observe everything around me and try to dissect it down to the fundamentals: balance, color, symmetry, shape, etc. Fashion covers all of that through the lines of the clothing, textures of the fabrics, and the shapes it creates on your body. To me, style comes from your personality and can be reflected in the way you dress and in some cases, your personality can reflect the attire. You always seem to feel good on the days you are dressed well and who wouldn’t want to be happy all the time?
Sacramento Fashion Week’s Creative Director, Will Rodriguez.
AA: Since it was founded in 2006, Sacramento Fashion Week has really grown. How long does it take to prepare for SACFW and what goes into it?
WR: Sacramento Fashion Week takes several months to put together. The 2012 week was in planning for six months, this year’s week? Almost nine months. There’s a lot that has to come together in order to put together a good show: Sponsorships, strategic partnerships with organizations, and most importantly having a dedicated staff to deliver on the vision.
AA: How did SACFW choose to partner with the Junior League of Sacramento?
WR: When we sought out to find a beneficiary for this year’s week, we really wanted to find someone who had similar goals and interests outside of fashion. While the glamour and flashing lights are great, one of our focuses has always been to develop the future talent that would become the greats in fashion. We wanted to find someone who we could have a symbiotic partnership with to not only help us promote the event but essentially help develop professional skill sets in areas that we needed help in. Most of the women that are part of the Junior League come from some sort of entrepreneurial or business type background which is important for us because SACFW is technically a big startup. The experience and direction from the Junior Leaguers truly helps us accomplish our goal of producing future leaders.
The Sacramento Fashion Week team plans for months in advance of the event.
AA: This year, a new event has been added called the “Boutique Show & Shop.” What inspired the addition of this event?
WR: Retail has always been an important aspect of fashion. Part of what we have identified is a need to promote the unique businesses that give Sacramento its style personality. While most people think by default to go to the mall to shop for their latest wardrobe, we believe that you can find better variety and sometimes some very unique pieces by just shopping local. As part of one of the other goals of our organization (to help stimulate our local fashion economy) we set out to find a way to promote them and give them a platform in which their brand can grow. Being a business owner is tough and having to put together a show for your own store can sometimes seem impossible, especially if you don’t have experience in the logistics of it. This is an area where we thrive, so we’ve decided to try to lend a helping hand while also providing our audience with a unique experience. We’re bringing the mall of local boutiques to the Elks Tower.
AA: How have you changed the branding of SACFW to enhance it over the years?
WR: I would say that when I came on board (originally as a partnering business under the name Umbrella Haus) we officially created the SACFW brand. Three years ago, there was no brand. It was simply an event with a name and no real identity. We brought it to life with a look, a feel, and an aesthetic that you now see across the board. I’ve always stressed — sometimes compulsively — strict guidelines on how the brand is represented. To me, a detail as minute as our logo appearing pixelated or in the wrong color is unacceptable and we would take action to have it corrected. I feel that good branding is simply a matter of being consistent and current. Over the years, we’ve expanded our branding efforts by creating standards that affect our core operations. From the way we communicate to the public, to creating a personality for the brand, we’re constantly monitoring public perception. In the future, how and where you see the SACFW brand will become even more strategic.
Models get ready for a Sacramento Fashion Week press party. Photo by Kondrya Photography.
AA: I read on the SACFW website that you avoid using stock images for the SACFW marketing campaign and instead use local talent to photograph and model for your ads. How did you go about finding local talent for the position and why is this important to you?
WR: This goes back to our core goals and values of promoting local talent. It’s easy to take a stock photo and create a poster or ad out of it. The hard work of taking the photo is already done. But in the real world of fashion, that’s not how it’s done. If you go to New York, Milan, or any other major fashion hub, the practice of using stock photography to promote a brand is unacceptable. I want the staff that we work with to get a realistic experience of what it’s like to work for a fashion brand. While we may not be selling our own products, we are still selling a brand and, again, the representation of our brand is very important. Along with that goes the promotional aspect of it in which, by using local talent, we’re putting a face to our event. We use regional models, photographers, hair and makeup artists because we want people to see what the best talents within our region can produce. Sacramento is a city with so much great talent that often times goes undiscovered and/or even neglected. Bigger cities such as SF and LA end up becoming home for a lot of these talented individuals and that’s something we want to change. Sacramento is a great city and there’s absolutely no reason why talent should seek bigger markets to thrive. Let’s keep the talent here, let’s keep the jobs local, and, more importantly, let’s continue to build on the foundation of a thriving hometown.
AA: How does the SACFW faculty interact with the community outside of the events it hosts during the SACFW?
WR: This year, we began something that we have been trying to get off the ground for some time. We call it our Fashion Affairs. Typically hosted every second Thursday of the month, the Fashion Affairs serve as a way to unite all the different people who make up our local fashion community. The idea of the Fashion Affair was inspired by the Capital Creative Collective (CCC)’s Designer Pint Night. Founded by Jake Favour, Designer Pint Night has been a resource for many local creative talents to meet, mingle, and collaborate. Several great city improvement projects, events, and even job opportunities have all come out of a bunch of like-minded individuals getting together for a pint of beer. Having been part of the CCC for several years now, I can definitely attest to the significant impact it has had on my personal and professional development. Therefore, I wanted to bring that same unique opportunity to the fashionistas of Sacramento. And, at the end of the day — if nothing else — it’s an excuse for you to get dressed up and catch up with friends over delicious cocktails. We’re all just looking for an excuse to dress up anyway.
Guests await the next designer’s collection at Sacramento Fashion Week. Photo by Kondrya Photography.
Having been to Sacramento Fashion Week in the past, I can attest to the incredible talent one can witness at the events. I particularly enjoy the designer showcases that display the innovative minds of local designers, stylists, and models. It also helped that I held a personal connection to the show I attended, as my cousin was one of the talented designers.
Attending the show taught me that there is so much more talent here in Sacramento than people realize. The event opened my eyes to a beautiful community of artists — extraordinary minds whose creations inspired me to push myself as a fellow creative being.
Speaking with Will and hearing his passion about his craft reminded me of a beautiful quote I once read and that stuck with me (as many do). It was said by none other than the famous designer Coco Chanel ; “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with idea, the way we live, what is happening.” What this quote taught me is that inspiration is everywhere and to never ignore the call to the drawing board. Whichever your craft, don’t count anything out as a source of inspiration. Just as the stories of designers at SACFW will teach you, inspiration is everywhere.
Can’t wait to see what SACFW’s has in store this year? Check out the full event listing here and find which individual events fit your fancy! There’s a little something for everyone throughout the week.
Watch the teaser video below & be sure to make it to the Launch Party this Sunday!