Streetwear Had Its Own Moment At NYFW During SFW RUNWAY, An Event Founded By Naomi Alabi
Hi, Naomi! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, we appreciate it. Now about the SFW Runway, how did you come up with the idea to create the event?
I've always loved fashion shows. It can be a really great tool to introduce designers to new audiences while helping them strengthen their brand's credibility. The initial idea for SFW RUNWAY came during my time working for IMG; one of the biggest production platforms in the world. I saw that most designers that fit that category of street-style were being denied an opportunity to showcase and are often looked down upon. I saw this as a great opportunity to create something that serves a group of people that fashion gatekeepers did not want to recognize as important.
Why did you choose to represent Streetstyle specifically?
I developed a love for Streetstyle growing up and being raised by a single father who did not have budget to prioritize shopping. My options for fashion were my dad's oversized hand me downs: Being a girly girl I had to rework my dad' old Tommy Hilfiger Jeans and T shirts and create something entirely new. I chose to represent emerging streetwear and Streetstyle designers specifically because I recognize how unfair it was that these amazingly talented designers were invisible to decision makers in the industry. I started doing this during a time that these designers were treated like outsiders in the fashion industry. I identify with their story; just because someone doesn't come from a traditional fashion background or isn't backed by huge funding, doesn't make them any less deserving of the same professional resources that successful brands have access to. I'm happy to see that so much has changed since then; Streetwear is literally the lifesaver of many fashion brands. It seems like every relevant brand is adopting streetwear silhouettes and styles in order to stay relevant. I also want to make sure that the original innovators of that style benefit from the opportunities that come from Streetstyle's mass adoption
How do you choose the designers who will be attending the event?
We have an application process. While a fashion show is a great marketing tool for brands, not every brand is ready. Only about 5% of the applications we receive are actually approved to show with us. Many of the other designers interested in showing need a lot more business development and brand building to truly benefit from the visibility opportunity that a show presents. This is why we started producing workshops and are currently finalizing our "FASHION BUSINESS FOUNDATIONS" online course. I found myself teaching a lot of the same skills to these brands hence I decided to wrap that up in education.
You're currently looking for partnerships and sponsorships, so what are the values and ideas you search for in a business partner like this?
The biggest thing I'm looking for in potential partners and sponsors is their interest in also amplifying the voices of emerging talent. My favorite thing to say is the world doesn't need just another fashion designer. I want to work with brands that are interested in empowering our emerging designers(Through funding and resources) to make an impact and prioritize solving some of the problems created by the fashion industry. For me, it's not just about giving underrepresented designers a voice, it's about empowering those designers to have something unique to say and to bring to the table.
When you first thought about creating SFW Runway, what were your goals for this project? Do you feel like you have reached them?
I love to say I had the grandiose vision in the beginning but that was not the case. My vision was simple in the beginning and continues to expand as I get to learn more about my clients and myself as well. I initially wanted these emerging brands to simply feel celebrated and empowered. I've done that hundreds of times over. Overtime, that goal has expanded to wanting to help them gain a clearer understanding of how the current fashion industry works and what their place could be. And now I have moved into wanting to secure partnerships and funding for my brands. The vision I say expands the more I get to know my designers and what their needs are.
Is there any specific Streetstyle brand you'd like to have on the runway?
I would love to have Fear of God designer Jerry Lorenzo come in as a mentor one season Or even a Kerby Jean-Raymond FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PYER MOSS; GLOBAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF REEBOK. My designers look up to these men that have had to carve out a seat at the table of fashion for themselves and I think recognition from them would be life changing.
Other than creating a Streetstyle event, have you ever considered designing your own line?
I love fashion so much and actually have thought about designing my own line. I have a very unique point of view but I simultaneously don't believe in creating noise in the world. Everything I do with the intension of being purposeful and impactful. For example, I am a huge fan of merging fashion with technology. I feel like those two industries don't communicate with each other enough. We can solve so much of our waste and over production problem if we would look at tech companies for innovation. For now, my purpose and skillset calls for me to focus my energy on trying to educate, promote, and empower other brands.
How do you think SFW Runway currently contributes to Fashion and what else can we expect to see from you and from the event?
Fashion has the tendency to be a very exclusive club; we can't grow as a collective if we keep drowning out the voices of new comers and people who don't come from the same background as us. This simplest answer to that question is we empower talent that diversify current perspectives in fashion. To date, I have worked with over 220 designers and they've all landed on their feet in a wide variety of ways. I've represent designers that are currently working as in-house designers for LVMH brands or have secured really cool collaborations that I am proud of. My biggest
Creative Director: SFW RUNWAY @sfwrunway
Producer: Naomi Alabi @iamqueennaomi_
Photographer: jovanna reyes @jovannareyesphotography
Model: Alyssa @ko.taly