For a designer, a fashion show can bring big benefits to brand and business. Shows allow designers to display their lines to the public. They can supply designers with more exposure in an attempt to boost business. But several of the new and fresh designers at Indiana Black Expo’s “Fashion Here & Now” were not interested in doing the show for business gain, but for personal reasons.
This year’s fashion show – held Saturday, July 18 at the Indiana Convention Center - featured designers from Indianapolis to Senegal. There were boutiques, accessory designers, and even an international fashion designer featuring collections at the show, but for many, their motivations were similar.
Mauri Miller started his own men and women’s custom clothing company about a year ago, and today was his first IBE fashion show as a designer.
While Mauri admits it has been a good week for marketing and PR, he’s at the fashion show for more. He’s here for the experience and the good times that come with it.
“I won the entrepreneur of the year earlier in the week through Indiana Black Expo and the Mayor’s office, so it’s been great,” Miller said. “I get to work with the models and many great people to put the show together, which is all a part of this neat experience.”
Participating in IBE Summer Celebration has been a piece of Miller’s life since he was in the 7th grade. He used to participate in the youth summits. As he got older he became a model, joined the fashion show’s board of directors, and started his own fashion line.
“It’s been kind of full circle, as I’ve been in the fashion show, I’ve sat in the board meetings to plan it, and now I have designs in the show,” Miller said. “I will definitely be back in the fashion show, it’s just a fun event that I really enjoy.”
Mauri Miller was not the only designer at the show with a personal purpose. Fashion designer Yemi Sanni was there to showcase her line, which contained an important message. Sanni knew Black Expo was about heritage, and that’s exactly what her fashion is about.
“My clothing line is an Afro-contemporary themed line,” Sanni said. “Basically, it’s you being able to use African or international cultural fabrics to create everyday pieces that you can wear.”
Sanni is from Nigeria, and through the use of Africa- infused fabrics in her clothing she showcases her culture in combination with local or more mainstream clothing pieces.
Sanni’s stylist, Coco Cuffie, pulled Sanni’s designs as a basic foundation, collaborated with Profyle Boutique in Indy and then interwove the boutique pieces with the collection Sanni created. This combination of Sanni’s heritage and everyday clothing truly allowed Sanni to express her passion for her culture in a way everyone could appreciate.
IBE’s fashion show also featured designer Mike Sylla, whose Senegal designs are based out of Paris and who also had a message similar to Sanni’s. After his models took to the runway, Sylla came out on stage carrying Senegal’s flag.
Sylla made it clear that being a part of IBE’s “Fashion Here & Now” fashion show was important to him, and not just because of the business benefits.
“It is important that we come to Indy, to show the world our designs and teach them about Africa," Sylla said.