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SUNY Buffalo State's Runway 8.0
by Jeff Czum
On Saturday (4/25), students enrolled in the Fashion and Textile Technology (FTT) department at Buffalo State College will have the opportunity to showcase their creations and designs in the eighth installment of Runway. This years’ theme, titled ‘Innovation,’ will recognize and celebrate the “Year of the Innovator.”
“We’ve seen it all around us,” says Erin Habes, lecturer in the Fashion and Textile Technology department. “Especially with the new access to technology in the FTT department. We have everything from body scanners to digital printers.”
“It’s a very hands on experience for my students,” Habes said. “They’re really thrown into the fire and I’m just here to guide them when they need it, but for the most part, it’s entirely their project.”
In a “Project Runway” setting, Runway will highlight the best work of students and alumni designers.
“It’s funny, I really think the Project Runway TV show has brought about an awareness to the fashion industry. Our show is based around the fact that all of the students showcasing their work had to qualify with a jury process and will get a critique and feedback from the judges we bring in for the event.” Habes said.
One of the most exciting features of the event is the collection designed by the Senior Designers.
“This will be their senior thesis,” said Habes. “They’ve worked hard all year and have taken innovation in a direction of what was innovative throughout the history of fashion.”
Nine Senior Designers will all be competing for the Nancy Belfer Award, a grant of $1000, with a complete set of professional shears courtesy of Eastman Machine, a Coats & Clark thread pack and a photo shoot with one of Buffalo’s most respected photographers, Luke Cropping.
“The judges want to see that ‘wow’ factor,” said Habes. “They want to see how well it works with the theme, their stage presence, originality, quality and construction, and just their overall image.”
Top students will also be rewarded for Best in Show, Student Collection Award, and the Erika Hoerner Award, which was established to honor Erika’s life and passion for the fashion industry and will be given to an outstanding student in the Fashion Show Production class. Erika was a promising Buffalo State fashion student tragically killed in a car crash in 2011.
Habes says the entire experience not only allows her students to get a glimpse of what they’ll be walking into once they graduate, but to see the enormous support Buffalo has for the fashion community.
“When I first put Runway together 8 years ago, we held it off campus at Clifton Hall located in the Albright Knoxx,” said Habes. “It came together quite quickly, but you could tell that the people in Buffalo were starving for something fashionable, something cool and unique.”
“That year, 2,500 people showed up and only 500 could be let in,” says Habes. “It created so much buzz and it was an incredible way to kick off the series.”
“There has always been something so real and authentic about Buffalo and the community,” said Habes. “That’s why we had it off campus at first. We wanted to focus on getting the word out to the community and create an awareness for our fashion department.”
It definitely got the word out.
Runway has been held at various venues around the city including the Burchfield Penny, the Pierce Arrow Building, and now finally, their home at the Campbell Student Union for the third consecutive year.
“We decided to move it back to campus because they recently did a full renovation of the student union and kept us in mind when purchasing equipment,” Habes said.
“Everything is better than what it was. The lighting is better, the sound is better and it’s all Broadway grade and state of the art.”
Aside from being one of Buffalo’s largest fashion events, Runway is also the department’s biggest fundraiser. All ticket proceeds will go toward the FTT department scholarship fund.
“Last year, we raised more than $25,000 and we were able to endow our first scholarship,” Said Habes.
“We were also able to establish the Runway Forever Fund, which was all thanks to two gentleman who attended our show last year. Thomas Coates and Brad Mason were so impressed with our production that they contacted the head of our department, Dr. Lynn Boorady to discuss a donation of $10,000.”
“The Runway Forever Fund has allowed more students to participate in Runway and we also use that money to purchase accessories and footwear for the shows. It’s a great way to complete a student’s collection while also teaching them about the life of a stylist when working on a budget,” Habes said.
There will be two shows this Saturday, a matinee at 3pm and an evening show at 8pm.
“The 3pm show is a great opportunity for high school students and younger kids to come and see what the event is all about,” says Habes. “It’s more family friendly and they get to see something cool and exciting.”
“We also have a contest running for local high schools. The school with the highest number of students attending the show will receive a $500 college scholarship for one of its students. If the student decides to go to Buffalo State, the scholarship increases to $1,000,” Habes said.
“The evening show is when we pull everything out,” she says. “It’s just like the red carpet and there’s a lot more of an electric vibe. There’s excitement everywhere.”
Runway has come a long way since it began in 2008.
“The fashion community in Buffalo is moving in a really good direction,” Habes said. “It’s kept me here and it’s been a real pleasure to have been a part of it for the past 10 years.”
“I know what it was like to have a store 10 years ago. It was really tough for any business owner to stay afloat, and now to be able to see boutique businesses and local designers thriving and releasing ready to wear collections makes me extremely proud,” Habes says.
“I want Runway to inspire my students as well as the community. I want my students to be the change,” said Habes.
“We’re all creative and with the theme of innovation, I really want them to go out into the world and be the change they want to see.”
For detailed information and tickets visit runway.buffalostate.edu
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