Athens Fashion Collective

Loving Local: Athens Fashion Collective | CLOTH & KIND

When I transferred from the College of Charleston to Athens, GA to attend UGA as a college student in 1990, my plan was to move back to my roots, specifically the beach, as soon as I graduated. But like many transplants before and after me, Athens has a way of ensnaring you to stay, in the best kind of way. I fell completely in love with the enchanting energy of this small North Georgia town, with its huge magnolia trees and historic homes on practically every corner. In the end though, what really sealed the deal for me was that I became an integral part of a very palpable culture of creativity. For those of us who call Athens home, with our eyes closed, we can hardly throw a stick in any direction and not hit a ridiculously talented artist. I still marvel over just how much concentrated creative and varied talent resides in Athens, which includes successful artists, photographers, textile designers, cermacists, interior designers, architects, builders, woodworkers, chefs, musicians, and of late, fashion designers. And yet, the town remains very personal and relatable and on any given day, I could literally run into any number of these people at the farmer's market or local bakery. I can't imagine ever living anywhere else, ever again. Athens is home.

That said, just look what my town is up to now.

Athens Fashion Collective is an independent group of professionals founded by Sanni Baumgaertner, Rachel Barnes, and Maggie Benoit, that emphasizes locally made, sustainable fashion. Since its inception in the fall of 2010, the Athens Fashion Collective  has produced a semi-annual fashion show giving local designers an opportunity to present and sell their collections, while also collaborating with other creatives in the community, and promoting sustainability in production practices. This year's show, Revive + Recreate, is the sixth fashion show produced to date, and with each show, the Athens Fashion Collective members have worked to develop and support independent designers with a goal of facilitating small scale manufacturing here in Athens. "We hope to foster an environment for designers in which they can develop their lines here, as opposed to moving to New York, as well as a culture of consumers who want quality, locally-made garments," said Amy Flurry, an Athens Fashion Collective member and co-founder of paper-cut-project, who brings her own experience in international fashion to play on a local level. "Sustainable fashion is a design philosophy where the creation of the clothing is produced with consideration to the environmental and to the social impact. Essentially we want to create new work but with minimal waste, recycling when possible and keeping production closer to home so that those jobs stay home," Flurry explained. "We approach this with an eye toward making choices that enrich the community we inhabit rather than deplete it." In other words, this is do good fashion with heart and pluck.

Loving Local: Athens Fashion Collective | CLOTH & KIND

Plan to see collections from six different area designers including Community Service, Laurel Wells, Shawna Lea Maranville, Lindsey Simunec, Colleen Quinn, and Zidisha Dambuza. Many of the designers have hand-dyed their fabrics and in keeping with the show's Revive + Recreate theme, many have repurposed vintage pieces. Expect a showcase of talent, including the production contributions of Meredith Thornhill and Seyi Amosu, as well as local hair and makeup artists from Pageboy, Model Citizen, Elijana Cosmetics, Mary Sigalas, and Mary E. Denis. The talent stretches beyond fashion design though as no party is complete in Athens without a wicked DJ and good food. Bring your dancing shoes and come hungry for bites from sponsor The National and parnter Epting Events.

Fashion show aside, I also can't wait to see the show's venue, an incredible new event space located on the second floor at One Press Place, in the Athens Banner Herald newspaper building downtown. The venue touts huge old windows that flood the space with natural light and look out over the gorgeous Athens Greenway and with its rode hard and hung to dry industrial feel, the space alone is worth coming out to see. However, Epting Events, on board as a partner in Revive + Recreate showcase, made this space happen for the Athens Fashion Collective and have significantly contributed to making this year's venue unmistakably unique. Pair that with the venue's gracious size, accessibility and proximity to downtown, it makes for an ideal spot for the Revive + Recreate fashion show.

Loving Local: Athens Fashion Collective | CLOTH & KIND

Moving forward with a with a vision of local manufacturing, the Athens Fashion Collective is also in dialogue with Epting Events about using their current event facility, one that still houses a number of industrial sewing machines and cutting tables from the last occupants. "We have been talking with them about the possibility of reviving those tools in a more modern, small scale production, possibly as a collective," Flurry said.

Curious about what to expect from this show? Have a look at this video from the 2011 Athens Fashion Collective fall show. You in? Then here's the NTK: Tickets are only for sale at the door. Bring cash or CC. There are only 100 seats, but they are not reserved so if youโ€™d like to sit, you need to get there early, otherwise plan to stand.

WHAT:  Athens Fashion Collective Fall Fashion Show "Revive + Recreate"

WHEN: Thursday, September 26 from 8-10 (show starts promptly at 8:30)

WHERE:  Suite 220 at One Press Place, Athens, GA  (Athens Banner Herald newspaper building downtown next to the Classic Center)

PRICE:  $10 ($7 with a student ID)

PHOTOGRAPHY CREDIT | Ian McFarlane