A highlight of the year for fashion enthusiasts far and wide, Phoenix Fashion Week 2018 returns to Talking Stick Resort Oct. 18-20. A new dynamic line-up of 12 emerging apparel and accessory designers from across the country are ready to entertain fascinated crowds, showcasing their collections as they make their debut on the runway while competing to win the coveted title of designer of the year.

We spoke with three Arizona-based designers about their experiences as emerging designers for Phoenix Fashion Week including participating in the rigorous bootcamp, their inspiration and process creating their collections, and what they’re looking forward to when they debut their collections Oct. 18-20 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.

Jummy Salami

Salami, designer of SiSi Aduke will be debuting her 12-piece summer/spring afro-fusion collection on Friday, Oct. 19 featuring glamorous dresses, jumpsuits, and bold prints and fabrics for the sophisticated woman.

Salami moved to Phoenix a year ago, and decided to get involved in the fashion community as a designer. “I stumbled upon the Phoenix Fashion Week Eventbrite and I was immediately enthralled by what they were doing,” Salami says. She decided to be apart of Phoenix Fashion Week as a volunteer after she heard glowing commendations online and from people she had met about the process and how beneficial it was for emerging and established designers.

“When I started attending a few events, I thought, ‘these are people I need because they’re really involved in the community,’ which was big for me, and I saw that desire to help designers succeed…so I decided to submit an application.”

Salami was very excited when she found out she was selected as one of this year’s emerging designers, but had some doubts she was ready for the intense bootcamp and creating a collection to debut at Phoenix Fashion Week.

“I thought, ‘I’m not ready for this,’ but when I spoke with the Phoenix Fashion Week team, they were very encouraging, and I think they believed so much in my brand and me as a person, that they gave me a chance to launch my brand…it bolstered my confidence that I could do this.”

Going through the emerging designer bootcamp, Salami says she’s learned a lot about herself in creating her collection. “I’ve learned a lot about the artistic side of me…which is trying to fuze a few different extreme parts of my heart, and bring them together on the runway—and see the beauty I create.”

Her SiSi Aduke collection blends fabrics to create something new— dresses, jumpsuits and separates with bold patterns and colors, portraying both simplicity and complexity. Salami hopes her brand and collection convey a cultural appreciation with African prints while showcasing the global appeal of prints in fashion. “If I am able to convey that this is not just African wear, but something that can be appreciated by people of all races and that it’s African-inspired,” Salami says.

Designing for the sophisticated woman, Salami says she aims to create quality pieces that will last and be relevant in fashion for years to come. “I design for someone who is adventurous, and open-minded,” Salami says. “A lot of people aren’t used to fusion-prints, so I design for women who are open to trying new things in their life and with their fashion choices.”

Given Phoenix Fashion Week’s success, Salami hopes her and other designers’ collections will bring Arizona more recognition as a fashion hub, in addition to working with Phoenix Fashion Week in the future. “I believe Arizona’s fashion scene has a lot to offer, majorly because I see it as a huge melting pot of different cultures, and the fashion scene here is really growing…and I’m thankful to be apart of it,” Salami says.

She’s excited to see everything come together on the runway when her collection debuts on Friday, October 19. “And then seeing all the other designers, we’ve been on this journey together, we’ve seen how we’ve grown and seeing how everything comes out on the runway, I think I’m looking most forward to that.”

JC Donaldson

Donaldson, founder and designer of Being Dapper, will be debuting his Gatsby 1930s and 1960s-era inspired collection on Fri. Oct. 19 featuring sport coats, suits and polos for gentlemen of all ages.

Donaldson’s journey to fashion week was three years in the making. He attended the shows for a long time, then started making men’s accessories-flower lapels-and then he began getting inquiries asking to make shirts. “Then Phoenix Fashion Week staff encouraged me to send in an application to be an emerging designer, so I made the decision last year to participate, and the rest is kind of history,” Donaldson says.

All emerging designers go through a bootcamp at Phoenix Fashion Week that teaches them skills to develop their brand identity, create a business plan, and how to create a collection that’s true to their brand. “The bootcamp challenged me to take Being Dapper to the next level,” Donaldson says, which he focused on the brand DNA, which was challenging since he decided to switch to the contemporary category halfway through from the streetwear/lifestyle category. “It’s more challenging, but it’s more rewarding in the end, so I said ‘why not?’ because you have to give everything you’ve got since lots of people are watching that stage, might as well present a new collection, a new level of Being Dapper—and Phoenix Fashion Week has encouraged that transformation.”

That transformation started with making what Donaldson calls “gentlemen’s T-shirts,” that have typography describing the gentleman lifestyle that can be dressed up and dressed down. The collection has expanded to include suits, sport coats and polos, which Donaldson says are designed for their target demographic, the 30-year-old bachelor “who wants to enjoy the finer things in life and appreciates dressing really well,” which he hopes is conveyed to the audience. “The collection encompasses the lifestyle of this gentleman—from casual to professional—capturing every phase of a gentleman’s life. There’s something for every young man to older gentleman.”

Donaldson says he hopes Being Dapper will bring something new to the Arizona fashion scene. “I wanted to give some zest to men’s contemporary, it can be fun; and do it with a brand that is versatile and scalable. My collection is customizable, so people can have their own way of Being Dapper,” Donaldson says.

The designer is looking forward to showing his collection and what Being Dapper looks like on Oct. 19, and “taking that powerful name and then exemplifying that through fabric.”

MaryElizabeth Stewart

Stewart, designer of Rockin Street Wear, will debut her rock and roll-inspired collection on Thurs. Oct. 18 featuring leather and denim pieces for edgy men and women that can be dressed up or dressed down.

A graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York, Scottsdale resident MaryElizabeth Stewart decided to participate in Phoenix Fashion Week to grow her brand under the leadership of the Phoenix Fashion Week team while gaining exposure, making connections and being apart of a tight-knit community.

Stewart says creating her 12-piece collection has been full of hard work, and is inspired by rock and roll. The collection for men and women features fabrics like denim and leather to create edgy looks that reference rock and roll such as music-inspired shirts and jackets, camo print, leather jackets with patch detailing, distressed pieces, and hoodies.

“I design for a person who loves streetwear, someone who is a social trendsetter,” Stewart says. “The collection is about someone who can feel cool and confident wearing something dressed up or dressed down.”

Being involved in Phoenix Fashion has helped Stewart perfect her brand and grow in many ways. “With help from the Phoenix Fashion Week team along the way, debuting the collection is really awesome since it’s going to draw attention to where we’re from since we’re based in Phoenix. It’s the perfect place to debut the collection since everyone who’s there loves fashion…I’ve learned so much about the brand, and going through the bootcamp has sent me in a perfect direction for the brand.”

She hopes to inspire people in the fashion community in Arizona, and that people feel confident when wearing Rockin Street Wear, as well as continuing to grow the brand and building a community in the fashion industry in Arizona.

When she debuts the collection on Oct. 18, Stewart is looking forward to the audience seeing the designs. “I can’t wait to see how things are going to look and move on the runway. It’s always fun to see the crowd’s reaction too.”

Phoenix Fashion Week 2018 Designer Line-up: Emerging and Established Brands


Lifestyle Apparel — Activ Intimates, Nani Swimwear, Rockin Street Wear, WVSH

Established Brands: Fashionably Pink, Community Showcase (12 Brands), Ali Jawad FIDM Debut, Qmulative

FRI. OCT. 19

Contemporary Apparel — Being Dapper, Cody Chris Collection, MollyKate Cline, SiSi Aduke

Established Brands: Nouvelle Palm Beach, #ForTheStars by Jacob, Design ME by Al-Mutawa, SVETIK’S Haute Couture

SAT. OCT. 20

Luxury Apparel — Amanda Casarez, Chau Chic, Orlando Dugi, Zelenco

Established Brands: Aconav, Christine Adar, Yas Couture by Elie Madi, Finale– Rocky Gathercole

Phoenix Fashion Week 2018 is Thurs. Oct. 18 to Sat. Oct. 20 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at Talking Stick Resort, 9800 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., seating begins at 7:30 p.m. and shows begin afterward. Tickets are $50+ and can be purchased online here. To learn more about this year’s show, how you can watch the first-ever Phoenix Fashion Week Livestream, and programs such as The Business of Fashion Seminar Series presented by FIDM, visit PhoenixFashionWeek.com.