CLEVELAND — Fashion Talks – and in Cleveland, the conservation had been quiet too long. So Aimon Ali, a recent transplant from Toronto, is striking things up.
"I was like, you know what, I'm going to do a fashion show," Ali said in a recent interview with 3News' Sara Shookman ahead of this weekend's first "Fashion Talks" runway event.
Ali worked on similar high fashion events in Canada and was searching for the scene here, and sadly, mcoming up empty.
"Cleveland has a food scene. There's a big scene for drinking and parties and art, but I didn't see anything for fashion specifically," she recalled.
Sensing the lack of a cohesive fashion community, Ali started to think about ways to bring the talented designers, shop owners and influencers she was meeting, together.
"There are great talented designers [here]," she said. "But how would we know if we don't have a platform for them to showcase? So I really want it to be like a very local with a little bit of international [flair]."
So Ali got to work - planning her debut big runway show this weekend at The Madison featuring both emerging fashion designers, and local established designers. The event will also offer networking opportunities, shopping and live performances.
In advance of the big runway show, Ali has also organized preview events, where 3News caught up with a few of the participating designers. Many of them agreed, the pandemic had not been easy on the fashion industry.
"I’m really excited to be presenting again," designer Victoria Cohen told us.
Liv by Olivia Grandis designer Olivia Grandis said she was "Definitely nervous. It’s big deal, it’s my first fashion show. I’ve been in the fashion industry for a few years now, just never designing for myself."
The diversity of design is one thing Ali wants to highlight with her efforts. As a Muslim, born in Pakistan, and raised in Canada, Aimon felt her own style stood out here in a way she hadn’t experienced before.
"I wanted it to be inclusive because that was something that I struggled with when I first moved to Cleveland," she explained.
Jada Taylor, the designer behind Mixd Fashion, can relate.
"I feel like Mixd Fashion is truly me and who I am. I’m a little bit street. I’m a little bit country too, and also it’s about diversity. It’s exciting to see people buying my clothes," she said. "It’s always been my mantra and ideal, and I’m glad that now it’s getting more recognition, because people are speaking up, the talks and conversations are happening."
That diversity is helping the fashion world grow. "It introduces people to a new narrative," said designer Ashley Bohanon of Bohanon & Co. "A new perspective. Another style. More creativity for sure."
Saturday’s show is just the start for Ali, who is already dreaming up her next steps.
"I just want us to bring high fashion events to Cleveland and help build a stronger fashion community."
For more information on Fashion Talks - click here.
You can also find tickets for this weekend's The Runway event here.
Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a story published on Jan 15, 2021.