Questions: Fashion Weak

Just weeks before it was scheduled to go off earlier this fall, Emerald City Fashion Week was abruptly canceled by its creator, Steven Paul Matsumoto. A challenger to the established Seattle Fashion Week, Matsumoto had hoped his event would help create a fashion incubator dedicated to assisting emerging designers. Changing the culture of fashion in Seattle, however, has proved to be one hard stitch to sew. The entrepreneur talked with City Arts about his struggles, why he hates drunks at runway shows and what’s next on the drawing board.

What’s wrong with how runway shows are done in Seattle? I discovered there are two reasons behind Seattle fashion shows. One, to promote the nightclubs, and two, to promote a charity. But how do they benefit the designers? A runway show should be about a business rather than the show itself where people are just there to drink and party.  

You had to cancel your show. Why don’t you give up? I thought, I could either crawl into a hole or realize that this is what it is, so, next! Next year, we’ll work on being a little more methodical and a little less off the cuff. As with the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.  

What will you do differently? The fashion incubator will be the spearhead for the show. Once it’s up and running, we’re going to have staff on hand who will be working forty hours a week and getting paid. When people are just volunteering, like this year, they still have to find ways to pay rent, and those things take priority. 

Why is a fashion incubator important? Toronto has had a fashion incubator since the mid-’80s, and it’s a model for us. By establishing an incubator, we’ll be able to supply tools for designers who have two or three years of experience under their belt but who can’t afford equipment or showroom space, which is very expensive. If we are going to be on the same level as New York or LA, we’ve got to get the fashion industry involved with the incubator.  •

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