Many fashion designers call Milwaukee home

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee is home to a number of fashion designers.

"There's a fashion and artistic and creative renaissance happening (here)," says Michelle Lopez, co-founder of TheMINIClassy line of children's clothing that's based in the Milwaukee area.

"When you look in the mirror and you're like 'I'm killin' it!' and you go out in to the world with that mentality that 'I feel great because I look great,' fashion is so powerful that way," says fashion designer Stephanie Schultz, creator of Silversark clothing.

Mount Mary University's Fashion Design program draws students from all over Wisconsin, according to department co-chair Sarah Eichhorn. About 140 students are currently enrolled.

"They'll start here and build up their clientele, it might be more custom ordering at first," Eichhorn said.

There are also advantages to going to school in Milwaukee.

"We have a lot of design headquarters here like Bon-Ton, Harley-Davidson, Jockey International, Lands' End and Kohl's," Eichhorn said.

Milwaukee Fashion Week is comprised of local fashion designers and other professionals associated with the fashion industry. The group holds an annual fashion show in Milwaukee every September.

Designer Lupita Murillo says their goal is to create a platform for local designers and to prevent students from leaving the area when they graduate.

"We don't just have fashion shows and that's it for the rest of the year. We actually want to create something for Milwaukee, we want to create a fashion industry here."

"If we can start doing this team thing where we are locally manufacturing our pieces, that would definitely help all of us," said Tatiana Gonzales of Les Fashionistas.

She says Milwaukee Fashion Week also provides volunteer opportunities for people across the industry, including in fashion show production.

"There is so much that goes on backstage: the production, getting people organized, getting hair and makeup, there's a lot of excitement," said Gonzales.

So, does Milwaukee have a signature look?

"I think 'comfort' is the one adjective I would place on Milwaukee. We like to be comfortable and also to keep warm," said Eichhorn.

"As long as you have pieces that make you feel awesome, that fit you well, you don't have to have tons of stuff. If you have high-quality pieces and pieces that are timeless, you won't have to worry about what's in next season, said Schultz.

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