By Alexia Hill
In the Fall of 2022, from Oct. 24-Nov. 6, Arizona Fashion Week (AZFW) lived up to its mission statement of “redefining expectations” within the fashion industry. The two-week event was organized by Scottsdale-based creative agency, Luxe and City. The agency hosted a plethora of events, including a media day, a daily fashion hub, designer brand parties, activations and three major fashion shows.
The founder of Luxe and City, Alex Salazar, gave insight to the grand event at Media Day.
“Ultimately, Luxe and City existed to support the Creative industry…We knew there were still some loopholes that needed to be filled in order to support our local industry,” Salazar said. “Arizona does have fashion, and we really wanted to shine that light on our local industry.”
The first runway show on Nov. 4 was organized at the new Arizona State University (ASU) MIX Center in Mesa, and highlighted brands: NOA The Collective, Dria Dair, JONESY Co. and Yoga Democracy.
Yoga Democracy opened the show with a stunning three-crew performance of aerial silks and hoops. As the music began, the performers climbed higher, and then their models began on the runway.
Travis Strote is the Co-founder of Yoga Democracy, and he talks about his passion for connection on the brand’s website.
“Connection… I live for connection. I love to connect people with themselves, with others, and with mother nature; and then watching them inspire and create,” Strote said.
Founders Hailey Byfield and Strote are native to Florida, but the brand has expanded into New York and Arizona.
“[We] started the company seven years ago, with $500 and a sewing machine,” Strote said. “We manufacture everything in Carefree, and we also have a manufacturing facility in NYC. We have a store here in Old Town, and we have a store in New York. Now, we’re building a manufacturing facility in Kenya, which is crazy.”
As the Nov. 4 show continued, it made way for Veronica Droulia’s sustainable swimwear brand – NOA Collective. Standing for Nature’s Own Art, Co-Founders Ben, Carter and Veronica started the brand as an homage to their home of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina and the fierceness of their people.
“I think I’m fueled by community, by connection and just good energy,” Droulia explained. “I think events like AZFW is such a great way to have that creative spark ignite in you again, we just have so many fun ideas for our next collection.”
NOA’s collection was simplistic yet eclectic with prints inspired by octopus, Louisiana gators and more. Part of NOA’s mission is to send its proceeds to a non-profit organization relating to animals or natural disaster relief. Its newest collection is giving part of its proceeds to Half Glass Full, a New Orleans non-profit organization that recycles glass.
“I kind of just wanted to stick to our roots and keep it super minimalistic, and I think that’s great with swimwear because it really just shows off what people will look like in the swimwear, on the beach and swimming around,” Droulia said. “I think it was really really fun, we had some really great music, the models were awesome…I had never seen a runway like that and I’ve been working in this industry since 2019.”
On Nov. 6, the finale night, AZFW presented six collections, five of them competing for Collection of the Year, a runway competition. The first collection to set foot on the outdoor runway was AllSaints – a classic, East London-influenced global brand. Brand leader, Tiffany Heinrich, explains AllSaints as “a digital contemporary brand with an independent spirit and a whole lot of attitude.”
“I remember walking in and saying, ‘Oh my gosh this is everything of who I am as an individual and it speaks to who I am’ so I bought my first leather jacket, brought it home with me it was a Nigerian leather jacket I still have it in my closet to date,” Heinrich said. “I remember working in the mall and seeing the sign for AllSaints come up and I said, ‘I’m going to work there some day, I’m going to be that brand’s leader someday.’ I’m happy to say that I have been here for four years now.”
With looks and sounds that bring you back to the ‘90s, AllSaints displayed its “Because The Night” collection, which included leather jackets, black down coats, shimmering cocktail dresses, and puffer vests paired with macro-logo sweaters.
“I believe that AllSaints is one of Arizona’s best kept secrets. When I took over AllSaints I was really focused on brand awareness. I believe that it is something that everybody needs to have in their closet because it is such a timeless brand that has beautiful collections for any individual,” Heinrich said.
Despite its moody, classically fashionable undertones, AllSaints joined the AZFW team to make a mark on local communities and the respective future creatives involved, similar to the goals of the organizers.
Luxe and City, the agency that made AZFW possible, understands that without media and support, the arts and fashion industry cannot continue to grow. With year one complete, AZFW will continue to branch out and make its mark in the fashion world.
“I just want to say how important design is, and how it can really change not only our lives but the people that engage with us,” Anita Lang, AZFW Sponsor said. “I’ve been in interior design for a long time here in Arizona and what I like to see is that Arizona is making a mark nationally. Let’s show the rest of the world all the talent we have here and all the passion we have here and keep this happening.”