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Diversity and Inclusion Meets Fashion

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Jessica Herrera

The inaugural Tempe Fashion Week kicked off at Sun Devil Stadium. Designers, stylists, models and vendors came together for one night to celebrate fashion and diversity on the runway. Inclusivity was the main focus of the show, and every detail was carefully selected to spread a message of body positivity.

“We were looking for diversity, inclusion and you will see all of those things,” said Shannon Love, model director of Tempe Fashion Week. “It doesn’t matter the skin type, if you are bigger or smaller, it doesn’t matter. We just want you to be at your best, that’s supreme confidence.”

Photo by David Ulloa Jr.

Photo by David Ulloa Jr.

Tempe Fashion Week displayed designs from local brands that ranged from streetwear to couture. Models in the fashion show were of diverse ethnicities, which allowed the audience to feel connected and identify with the models.

Fashion brands such as Sueño kicked off the night by showcasing designs by Lauren-Bacall Snowden. Her designs included many pops of vibrant colors and fabrics. She describes her collection on Instagram as “bold, vibrant, fresh, beautiful, inclusive, and most of all genuine.”

House of Donaldson, a brand that “delivers confidence through custom luxury,” was also present at the fashion show. Designer JC Donaldson makes clothing that transcends beyond the classic suit and tie with original designs that are gender neutral. He has mastered reinventing the common blazer into dresses and worked with various fabrics, such as denim patch work, to complement his suits.

Photo by David Ulloa Jr.

Photo by David Ulloa Jr.

Laboratory, with experimental fabrics; Water Vixen Swimwear, with intricate luxury bathing suit designs; and Senti, with West African attire for the modern man, brought the audience something new and innovative not only with their unique designs but also with their models. These designers selected models who embodied their message of inclusivity.

Photo by David Ulloa Jr.

Model Ari Webb, wore designs by Sueño and Leonor Aispuro. Growing up in Phoenix and representing her Afro-Latina roots has been very important to her, especially being a part of the very first Tempe Fashion Week.

“Showcasing diversity impacts the audience when attending fashion shows by providing a wide variety of people who may potentially look like them or represent their same backgrounds,” Webb said. “I believe times are changing and so is the fashion industry. Consumers are not only looking for big name brands anymore, but sustainability in designer clothing. Something they can get behind and support.”

Photo by David Ulloa Jr.

The show was filled with creative designs that ranged in all types of fabrics and suited all body types and sizes. The message behind Tempe Fashion Week was diversity and inclusivity, expressing a new sense of what the fashion industry needs – which will surely set a standard throughout Arizona.

Tempe Fashion Week proved that Arizona is making noise in the world of fashion, with designers and models that actually represent their audience. Fashion brands that are just starting out, as well as more established brands, felt the support all throughout the venue.

In one night, the audience witnessed that there is beauty in being unique and that style inspirations can come from your diverse backgrounds for one common goal – fashion.

“Arizona is contributing a breath of diversity to the fashion industry,” Webb said. “We need more of each culture in this industry if we want to make a difference and I think that can be found here.”


What did you love about Tempe Fashion Week’s diverse panel of models? Let us know on Instagram and Twitter or leave a comment!

Reach the writer and photographer on Instagram


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