When it comes to fashion, our region may fall behind some of the usual players — New York, Los Angeles, Paris — but the Greater Seattle area still is considered to be at the forefront of the global $320 billion industry.
The region ranks sixth in the nation in terms of numbers of those employed in the field, with a higher than average concentration of fashion designers, more than 330 within the metropolitan area, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One of the premier venues to showcase the works of local designers is the annual Fashion Week hosted by The Bellevue Collection, during which the Pacific Northwest’s most fashion-forward flock to Bellevue to view the apparel of more than 50 participating brands.
The week-long event takes months of preparation and a staff of roughly 40 people working backstage to ensure smooth operation. It includes numerous parties, shopping opportunities, and high-end runway shows boasting apparel with a combined total cost of approximately $100,000. Funding comes entirely from Bellevue’s own Kemper Freeman family, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to local nonprofits.
“We started Fashion Week at The Bellevue Collection over 14 years ago to give a voice to our Northwest fashion perspective and to combine fashion with fundraising to benefit our community,” said Jennifer Leavitt, vice president of marketing for Kemper Development Company. “Fashion Week is an exciting and experiential event that supports both our retailers and our community needs.”
Each year, 100 percent of ticket sales benefit the event’s nonprofit partners. Last year, more than $50,000 went to Bellevue LifeSpring, an organization working to combat poverty on the Eastside, and an additional $56,000 went to Special Olympics Washington. This year, Fashion Week will again dedicate its charitable giving to Bellevue LifeSpring, as well as Ben’s Fund, a grant providing financial support and guidance to children and young adults with autism. In total, Fashion Week has raised approximately $1 million for local causes and organizations since the event began in 2006.
“Giving back to the community we live and do business in has always been a part of our family and company culture here at Kemper Development Company,” said Kemper Freeman, chairman and CEO of Kemper Development Company.
The goal for Fashion Week is to harness the prominent regional fashion industry to establish The Bellevue Collection as a philanthropic pillar in the community and as a destination for the arts, added Leavitt.
This season’s styles will be on display at The Bellevue Collection from Sept. 25–29. Visit fashionweekbellevue.com for more information.