PRESS RELEASES

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum Relocation

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum Relocates Headquarters to CACHE’s Springdale Creative Hub

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum (AAFF) today (Oct. 17th, 2020) announced the move of its headquarters and operations to the new Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange (CACHE) creative hub in Springdale — the former home of Arts Center of the Ozarks.

With support from the Tyson Family Foundation, CACHE took on operations of the collaborative arts space in early September with the goal of expanding equity, inclusion and expression across all artistic disciplines and Northwest Arkansas communities.

“CACHE is excited to have AAFF as the first anchor tenant occupying the space,” said Allyson Esposito, CACHE executive director. “AAFF has developed long lasting and deep connections with both the local Marshallese and Latinx communities in downtown Springdale. AAFF’s presence in such a historically important location provides the opportunity to expand these relationships and provides room to foster inclusive and culturally responsive creative programming in the new location.”

AAFF’s sewn goods production and administrative staff of seven will also headquarter out of the space. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, AAFF has largely pivoted its programming to focus on micro-batch sewn goods manufacturing, having made and donated over 10,000 fabric face masks for the local community. The accompanying #GetYourMaskOn social media campaign reached over 40,000 Arkansans and is one of the first public service campaigns launched to promote the importance of face masks use in the state. 

“We are thrilled to be moving operations to such an important location” said AAFF CEO Robin Atkinson. “We envision downtown Springdale as a potential cultural epicenter for the region and are excited to expand our programming and relationships to reflect the diversity of cultural production in the community.”

On Friday, Oct. 2, AAFF will launch a designer residency program titled “EMERGE” to focus on connecting local talent with nationally and internationally recognized professionals in the field of apparel design and fashion. The program will host a set of 11 fashion designers along with one “Designer in Residence” through Jan. 2021, with a formal presentation of the program’s production set tentatively for Feb. 2021 in the building’s theater. 

AAFF has several upcoming activations, including a set of three drive-in style video screenings of previous NWA Fashion Week runway shows from years past. The events, called “Re-Runway,” will take place in the North parking lot on Oct. 9, Oct. 16, and Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. The events will be accompanied by a live DJ, along with food and beverage options. Masks will be required and social distancing will be enforced. 

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum is supported in part by educational program grants from the Walton Family Foundation and programmatic grants from the Tyson Family Foundation. 

Introducing Designer In Residence

ARKANSAS ARTS AND FASHION FORUM INTRODUCES DESIGNER IN RESIDENCE,  BRUCE DAVIS OF 22ND ELEMENT

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum (AAFF) is thrilled to debut details for EMERGE, a newly developed designer residency program established to both further develop talent in the area, as well as attract visionaries from other regions to collaborate, train, and learn from the regional creative community. This project will kick off its inaugural season this Fall 2020. EMERGE, presented by AAFF, unveils its new brand identity, featuring the logo included in the image above, created as a visual representation of the rising talent participating in this incredible program. This curriculum will strive to build an ongoing platform to grow local and regional talent through collaboration and mentorship from industry experts in fashion, sustainability, manufacturing, and creative design.


EMERGE will engage one experienced Designer In Residence, as well as a select group of local designers – referred to as the Designer Cohort, to support the growth of the existing local talent, foster creative production, and contribute industry knowledge to the local community. AAFF and EMERGE are thrilled to announce Bruce Davis, Designer and Creator of 22nd Element as the Designer in Residence for the Fall 2020 season.


Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Bruce draws inspiration for his brand from the periodic table, and the 22nd element – Titanium, which he describes as a “strong and lustrous metal”, qualities he identifies with in relation to his collection. According to Bruce, 22nd Element is built on the idea of creating a fresh perspective on the future of apparel, creating “ready-to-wear with a mixture of both edge and class. The clothes that I make are genderless and inclusive. I take pride in knowing that I engineered clothes based on embracing individuality.”


Bruce believes that fashion should always go beyond turning heads, that it is about manifesting your true self. Four years into his design career, he is continuing to learn the art of fashion and design. Bruce is determined to continue to give the world the look of his most precious element, Titanium.


AAFF and EMERGE are now seeking applicants to apply for the Designer Cohort Portion of the program. 10 Arkansas-based designers will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, collaborations, and attend talks with Visiting Mentors and Bruce Davis, the Fall 2020 Designers in Residence. These 10 designers will receive a material budget to help with the creation of a program inspired project made while in collaboration with the Designer in Residence. Applications for the EMERGE program will be due at Midnight/CST on Tuesday, August 25th. To apply or to learn more about our Designer in Residence please follow this link: https://bit.ly/2DtzvAH

EMERGE!

ARKANSAS ARTS AND FASHION FORUM RECEIVES WALTON PERSONAL PHILANTHROPY GRANT FOR DESIGNER RESIDENCY PROGRAM

The Walton Personal Philanthropy Group at the Walton Family Foundation has given the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum a generous grant, to fund the development of a Designer Residency Pilot Program for the Northwest Arkansas community. This grant is dedicated to supporting the development of a Nationally Recognized Designer Residency Program with the goal of creating a program that attracts outside talent with name recognition and industry credentials to NWA to work, train, and grow the existing local designer base and integrate with the NWA design community. This funding has given the organization the capital to begin seeking industry experts and established working designers to the area (either in person or virtually) to grow the skills of the existing local talent, fostering greater levels of creative production, sharing industry knowledge, best practices, and cutting edge aesthetics. 

The program will be titled EMERGE | A Designer Residency Program: Identifying, Incubating, and Promoting New Talent in Fashion. The program itself will embody three levels of involvement including industry professionals defined as ‘Visiting Mentors’, working designers defined as ‘Designers in Residence’, and our current network of local designers defined as ‘Designer Cohort’. Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum leadership will work to recruit three to four nationally-recognized industry professionals to commit to a certain number of virtual class sessions determined by AAFF. Visiting Mentors will work with current AAFF Cohort Designers to lead virtual workshops, host talks open to the public, and help strategize with AAFF leadership on the growth of the fashion industry in NWA. Visiting Mentors will also closely mentor the Designers in Residence in one-on-one virtual sessions. 

AAFF strives to develop programming that is relevant and provides educational opportunities and professional support for aspiring designers, artists, and other creative professionals who are committed to building a vibrant and inspired creative fashion community in Arkansas.

Arkansas Community Foundation Grant

ARKANSAS ARTS & FASHION FORUM RECEIVES GRANTS FROM THE ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION FOR THE CONTINUATION OF MEDICAL MASK PRODUCTION

The Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has received a generous grant from the Arkansas Community Foundation to continue funding the production of medical masks for the Northwest Arkansas community. The project initiative will allow AAFF to continue to donate masks to front line workers, first responders, and healthcare professionals. With the funding received from the Arkansas Comunity Foundation, AAAFF will be able to staff and pay full-time workers to create masks that meet CDC standards. The gifts are dedicated to supporting the work of local seamstresses from diverse communities to produce high-quality cloth masks to be donated to local medical facilities. This funding has given the organization the capital to begin production on 7,000 cloth masks for the community. Partnering with students from their sewing workshops alongside professional sewist from Canopy NWA, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has established the first non-profit sewn goods workshop of its kind in Arkansas.

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum leadership will continue to work with organizations such as the Sewn Trades Collective, Urban Manufacturing Alliance,  and the Arkansas Maker’s Task Force, to stay up to date on best practices, material resources, and needs within the local community, in Arkansas, and on a national level. To increase efficiency for this project, AAFF will purchase their own laser cutting device that will increase the production rate of the medical masks, allowing AAFF to assist more clinics and health professionals in need.  AAFF will also continue to receive support from The Northwest Arkansas Community College Technology and Building Sciences department as well. They played a major role in speeding up the mask production process by using their own laser cutting device.

Upon the reopening of the country cases of COVID-19 have spiked and are projected to continue to rise. The Center for Disease Control is continuing the recommendation of universal mask wearing for all people who must interact with the public. This includes a recommendation for the public at large, along with healthcare professionals, frontline workers, and first responders. Because of this spike in new coronavirus cases The Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum wants to continue their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and once again, flatten the curve.

The Regional Arts Service Organization (RASO) Grant

ARKANSAS ARTS AND FASHION FORUM RECEIVES NWA COUNCIL GRANT FOR CONTINGENCY PLANNING, GROWTH, AND DEVELOPMENT OF ONLINE CONTENT

The Regional Arts Service Organization (RASO) at the Northwest Arkansas Council has given the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum the generous Bridge Fund Grant, supported through a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, to fund the development of a contingency revenue stream in lieu or in addition to live in-person events for the Northwest Arkansas community. This one-time gift is dedicated to supporting the rethinking of AAFF and Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week’s current business model and will assist in crafting an adaptive response to an unreliable live-events climate through maximizing online sponsorship opportunities, creating direct to consumer product fundraising opportunities, and exploring the development of subscription-only content and experiential opportunities. This funding has given the organization the capital to begin production of a new digital platform and web-based marketing to achieve new capacities for opening revenue streams beyond live event ticket sales and in-person fundraising events. With a robust online presence, AAFF & NWAFW will be able to expand income potential, develop new and exciting programming, and grow the reach of content beyond the regional base. 

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum leadership will work to build an online platform to bring live and pre-recorded event content online, develop new content for the launch of the digital platform, as well as a streamlined contingency planning for live events. This will enable AAFF to work directly with local contracted web developers and in-house marketing team alongside contracted videographers, artists, designers, hair and makeup talent, models, educational speakers. AAFF strives to create programming that is relevant specifically to under-targeted and underrepresented populations. AAFF wants to increase the visibility of minorities across racial, ethnic, economic, physical, gender expression, and ability based divides. 

AAFF and NWA Fashion Week stand in solidarity with the Northwest Arkansas Council in fulfilling a mission of creating a more inclusive NWA region. We come together and know that a diverse and inclusive region is KEY to our future. We see you, we hear you, we stand with you and pursue meaningful action against white supremacy and racism. 


Interested in helping with the development, design process, and implementation of AAFF’s new website? Click on the link below and fill out our questionnaire. We would love to hear from you! Or, contact our Director of Special Initiatives, Katie Marquess by sending an email to katie@arkansasfashion.org

https://forms.gle/c3cD6GLmy8M5GeSWA

TYSON FAMILY FOUNDATION GRANT FOR MEDICAL MASK PRODUCTION

ARKANSAS ARTS AND FASHION FORUM RECEIVES TYSON FAMILY FOUNDATION GRANT FOR MEDICAL MASK PRODUCTION

The Tyson Family Foundation has given the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum a generous grant to fund the production of medical masks for the Northwest Arkansas community. This one-time gift is dedicated to supporting the work of local seamstresses from diverse communities to produce high quality cloth masks to be donated to local medical facilities. This funding, along with a grant from the Arkansas Community Foundation, has given the organization the capital to begin production on 2,000 cloth masks for the community. Partnering with students from their sewing workshops alongside professional sewist from Canopy NWA, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has established the first non-profit sewn goods workshop of its kind in Arkansas.

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum leadership is working with the Sewn Trades Collective and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, along with the Arkansas Maker’s Task Force, to stay up to date on best practices, material resources, and needs within the local community, in Arkansas, and on a national level. To increase efficiency for this project, AAFF has also received assistance from the Northwest Arkansas Community College. The implementation of the Technology and Building Sciences department’s laser cutting technology has increased the production rate of the medical masks, allowing AAFF to assist more clinics and health professionals in need. 

On April 3rd the Center for Disease Control released new guidelines recommending universal mask wearing for all people who must interact with the public. This includes a recommendation for the public at large, along with healthcare workers, food services workers, delivery drivers, and anyone else who must conduct essential business. Because of this increased demand for cloth masks across the entire population, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum began to seek funding to increase production from the volunteer-based services they had already been soliciting since March 20th with the launch of the volunteer based Mask Maker Challenge. Information on that program can be found arkansasfashion.org/masks

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has pivoted its focus to respond to the needs of the local community, and to continue to provide both creative outlets, and professional opportunities. Along with the new mask workshop, AAFF has also been distributing masks made by volunteers from throughout the community and has distributed more than 1800 masks to date to local hospitals and clinics. They plan to distribute at least 2000 more by mid-May. Additionally, they have also begun offering masks for retail to the public through their Buy One / Give One program in partnership with local seamstresses. Each mask purchase includes a donation from the seamstress to a local healthcare provider. 80% of proceeds from those sales go directly to the seamstress, and 20% are donated to AAFF to continue their mask distribution projects.

“The Future of Fashion”  

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum Announces “The Future of Fashion” Event 

The Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum (AAFF) will hold “The Future of Fashion” event on Thursday, October 3rd, a fundraising event for the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum. Seven of the nine local designers from our first-ever Designer Cohort workshop (held on August 31st, 2019) will showcase their work during the event. These designers worked one-on-one with the former Editor in Chief of Nylon Magazine to develop their collections and perfect the look of each show. Gabrielle Korn will return for the event as a guest speaker and panel judge and will be joined by other fashion industry experts to speak on the future of fashion in Arkansas.

Each collection will compete for the opportunity to be manufactured in a micro-batch at the new headquarters of the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum, based in Springdale, AR. The winner will have their most commercially viable garment, selected by a panel of guests judges, produced in limited quantity for retail in the NWA area.

          “The Future of Fashion” will showcase the burgeoning fashion industry that Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum seeks to develop in the heartland, the current state of fashion in NWA, and the newest collections from our local designers and talent found across Arkansas. 

Proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to funding Educational Programming, professional support, and creating opportunities for local micro-batch apparel projects that provide jobs and creative outlets here in Arkansas.  

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum’s Designer Cohort Participants Include:

Basana Chhetri

Big Sister

Ethwes

Felix Bui

Herron Hats

Hope & Faith

Richie Clark Clothing

Robbie’s Era

Rosie Rose Designer

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum “The Future of Fashion” Impact 

AAFF will provide Scholarships and Production Grants to aspiring Arkansas-based fashion designers as well as, educational workshops, classes & panel discussion and mentorship opportunities for our local creatives.

Most recently, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum was accepted into the Walton         College of Business Social Innovation Challenge. Company leadership and designers will participate in a program developing a consumer facing retail experience for Arkansas-based designers and develop small business skills for designers across cultural backgrounds. 

Our vision is to create a fashion and design industry here and Northwest Arkansas through the support, groom, and growth of these designers and creatives.  We strive to educate the Northwest Arkansas audience on the environmental, financial, and social benefits of building a robust design-led apparel economy in the region.

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum in Partnership of NWA Fashion Week 

Each season the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum dedicates time and resources to ensuring that designers based in the state of Arkansas are able to participate in NWA Fashion Week, ensuring visibility to their brands and professional development opportunities toward the goal of establishing a thriving fashion industry in our state. “The Future of Fashion” event will be held during NWA Fashion Week’s Fall 2019 lineup, held October 3rd-5th.

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum’s “The Future of Fashion” Details 

Thursday, October 3rd

Doors at 6:30pm

Drake Field, Fayetteville

Tickets $30 – $150

Tickets Available At: https://stubs.net/event/2655/the-future-of-fashion-nwa-fashion-week-fall-2019

New Headquarters!

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum Announces New Programming, Headquarters 

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum Announces New Programming, Headquarters 

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum (AAFF) announces the expansion of their educational 

programming and the opening of a new 6,500 sq ft headquarters in Downtown Springdale. The new location will house space for offices, workshops, artist collaborative spaces, alongside a sewing lab and classroom. 

In 2018 AAFF launched a year long pilot educational program with the support of the Walton 

Family Foundation. Programming included speaker events, educational workshops, and student designer showcases. AAFF worked with hundreds of individuals interested in growing the fashion community in Arkansas, including pioneering programming with the Marshallese and Latinx communities based in Springdale. 

Thanks to an additional grant from the Walton Family Foundation, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion 

Forum will expand their programming to create longer running sewing courses, more in-depth educational experiences, and speaker series events featuring industry experts from across the nation. 

AAFF’s Educational Program includes three main areas of programming: 

– Student Designer Showcases – Educational and Professional Development Workshops – Public Speaker Series 

New programs include a beginners sewing course pioneered by designer Basana Chhetri, the founder of Nepal’s first fashion institute, who is building a course specifically for a cohort of Marshallese women interested in growing skills in sewing and design. Courses are also being designed for the general public by designer Sindhu Varagani for introductory and intermediate sewing for adults, teens, and pre-teens. 

In addition to the new office and additional programming, Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has 

also been selected to participate in the Social Innovation Challenge pioneered by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Arkansas. Working with faculty and students, AAFF will help develop a customer facing retail experience for designers and creative producers to build their experience selling their products to the community. They will also develop programming to provide designers with educational 

opportunities related to developing and managing an LLC business venture through which to sell and produce their designs. 

“We believe that the outpouring of enthusiasm from the community shows that we’ve really hit a nerve in terms of an untapped appetite on the cultural landscape. Teaching basic sewing skills, alongside transferable skills such as business, marketing, entrepreneurial skills and more, we think we are truly growing an industry from the ground up here in NWA. And we think there isn’t anywhere better suited for this type of development than Downtown Springdale. Thanks in large part to the amazing support we’ve received from the Walton Family Foundation, we’ve been able to dream really big, and we do think the sky’s the limit for how far our programming and participants can go with these new skills.” 

– Robin Atkinson, CEO, Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum 

About Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum: 

The Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum was founded in 2017 with the hope of providing a central location for creative producers in Arkansas to find professional development resources, creative inspiration, and a community of support. 

The mission of the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum is to provide educational opportunities and professional support for aspiring avant-garde fashion designers, artists, and other creative professionals who are committed to building a vibrant and inspired creative community in Arkansas. Within this mission, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum pursues three main areas of programming: 

● Providing educational workshops, classes and panel discussions for both fashion professionals and the public to increase understanding of the art of fashion. 

● Providing educational scholarships and production grants to aspiring fashion designers. 

● Providing educational mentorship opportunities for aspiring photographers, models, hair stylists, makeup artists, videographers and other aspiring professionals to work with established professionals in an educational environment for the development and enhancement of professional skills and knowledge. 

Each season the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum dedicates time and resources to ensuring that designers based in the state of Arkansas are able to participate in NWA Fashion Week, ensuring visibility to their brands and professional development opportunities toward the goal of establishing a thriving fashion industry in our state. 

Jane Harkness Attendance

Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum Announces Jayne Harkness to attend Future of Fashion Event.

Jayne Harkness President of J.H.G & Partners, Executive, and mentor, is set to be a guest judge at Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum Future of Fashion event on Thursday, October 3rd, 2019. Jayne Harkness has been a fashion industry leader for the last 25 years, with her start as Division Merchandise Manager at Barneys. Jayne is a founding member and currently Chief Creative Office of BANDIER, the first luxury fashion fitness wear boutique, and has held key positions such as SVP at Calvin Klein, President of Wholesale at Coach and Louis Feraud and, President of Couture at Isaac Mizrahi.

Through her consulting business J.H.G & Partners, her clients have included: Adeam, Sally La Pointe, Araks, Norisol Ferrari, Starbucks and Baha Mar and Rosewood Hotel Retail Bahamas. 

Jayne along with Gabrielle Korn (former Editor in Chief of Nylon Magazine), will judge seven local designers during the runway show and, the winner will have their most commercially viable garment produced in limited quantity for retail in the NWA area. Additionally, the evening will feature an exciting silent auction with pieces coming straight from the runway.

Future of Fashion Event Details 

On October 3rd, Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum will hold  Future of Fashion, a fundraising event featuring Jayne Harkenss and Gabrielle Korn ( former editor in chief of Nylon Magazine).  Seven local designers will showcase their collections at this event compete for the chance to be micro-batch manufactured at Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum’s headquarters in Downtown Springdale. 

Proceeds from the Future of Fashion event go directly towards educational programming, professional support, and creating opportunities for local micro-batch apparel projects that will provide jobs and creative outlets here in Arkansas.