“It’s a theme we left purposely open-ended,” said Erin Habes, ’03, FTT lecturer and Runway coordinator. “Everybody who created a collection looked at the focus and built their collection off of that.”
Now in its 14th year, Runway will be held on Saturday, April 30, at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m., in the Sports Arena. The show, which is open to the public, will highlight the collections of five seniors, showing what Push for Progress means to them, along with many other student designers in the program.
Senior Atiya Lino was inspired by the struggles Black people face because of the color of their skin.
“I want to uplift our people and celebrate our triumphs,” Lino said about her collection, “Colors Bound to Tired Skins.” “I feel like Black people have been taunted so much for their skin. When anybody wears this, you can see that we’re all united in the face of whatever we’re going through in any point of life.”
For Cameron Johnson, a senior FTT major whose collection is titled “Power of Patterns,” viewed Push for Progress as an opportunity. “It’s a push for a positive change, to acknowledge any issues or changes we have to make for the better,” Johnson explained.
Seniors Mouse Rodriguez and Jessibel Velazquez saw this year’s focus as an opportunity to address sustainability and inclusivity in fashion. Rodriguez’s collection, “Advantage,” seeks to make inclusive fashion for people of all body types and genders, while Velazquez was inspired by the “overproduction, overconsumption of clothing in the fashion industry,” and aims to change the direction of fashion to a slower and more sustainable pace with her collection, “Rerouting Innovation.”
“I think that progress comes from youth,” said Ali Eagen, who teaches FTT 451 Senior Project. “It’s carried through by students and young people, so the theme is really fitting. It’s been fun to see all the students have such a personal connection to it because they each got to pick something that really matters to them.”
Since its debut in 2008, Runway has given students a professional venue to showcase their talents. While designs from FTT students are featured in the show, Runway also collaborates with students in theater, dance, graphic design, fiber arts, and photography. Students work behind the scenes on marketing, creative direction, logistics, and stylistic choices, including accessories, music, and ambience to go with the pieces.
This year Runway is also collaborating with students in Africana studies who have been involved in the planning process and will highlight some of their spoken-word pieces during the show.
Collaborations are key for this year’s focus, according to Habes.
“If we’re saying we’re pushing for progress, I wanted to make sure we put our money where our mouth is,” Habes said.
Community partners for Runway include local Black-owned businesses Eat Off Art, a clothing and art business created by Alexa and Edreys Wajed, ’97, and Get Fokus’d Productions, a creative media arts company developed by Aitina Fareed-Cooke, ’12, ’16.
Runway is also collaborating with Thrift 2 Fight, whose mission of mobilizing fashion and promoting sustainability inspired this year’s pop-up thrift event, with proceeds from the sale of donated clothing on April 30 going to the Buffalo Community Fridge, the Western New York Peace Center, and the Center for Self-Advocacy. With Push for Progress in mind, the planning team decided to take donated clothes that cannot be sold and use them to create the runway itself.
“It’s all sustainable; it’s green,” said Jessica Piper, a student producer. “We’re trying not to make any waste.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first live show Runway has had in three years.
“We are so excited to show up for the 150th anniversary of the college,” Habes said. “It’s a celebration!”
The public is invited to join the celebration on April 30. Tickets for the 2:00 p.m. show are $10 for students and $15 for general admission. Tickets for the 8:00 p.m. show are $25 for students, $30 for general admissions, and $100 for VIP.
This year’s Runway will be especially meaningful as the first Black Fashion Scholarship will be presented during the event. Proceeds from ticket sales will support this scholarship, among other initiatives.
Runway sponsors include Buffalo Art Movement, M&T Bank, Eat Off Art, Get Fokus’d Productions, Thrift 2 Fight, Buffalo State College's 150th Anniversary, Rachel’s Mediterranean, the Franklin Crocker Show, Renew Bath & Body, In-room Plus, the Dessert Parlor, Studio Vegan, Terrior Grocery Store, and Flying Bison.