RagTrade Atlanta: Putting Atlanta on the Map

I imagine the camera lights flashing repeatedly as the crowd’s eyes watch design after design hit the runway. Everything about the atmosphere feels like a New York or LA Fashion week, but there is something different about the designs. They’re fresh. New. Different. Regionally specific yet globally appealing. The collections, innovative and inspired, aren’t on display in New York, Los Angeles, Milan, London or Paris. Instead, they are snippets of the budding Atlanta fashion scene. Taking place at the historic Georgia Freight Depot on Oct. 14, the event will make RagTrade’s second fashion runway show. Calling it “the next wave of imaginative influence to and for the Atlanta market,” Dr. Courtney Hammonds, fully understands how RagTrade Atlanta is changing the reputation of the Southeast. Even more exciting, the event represents much more than a runway show; it’s a declaration of the city’s identity as a global fashion hub.

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RagTrade was founded in 2012 by a group of industry professionals that sought to develop a globally recognizable fashion community in the city of Atlanta. As such, a primary mission is to discover and promote local emerging designers. Additionally, the organization provides educational workshops, retail collaborations and an online magazine which features today’s industry news. “We bring attention to our design community,” Founder Angela Watts says during an exclusive interview as she goes on to talk about Edmond Newton, one of RagTrade’s featured designers and how he is now a contestant on Project Runway. “We were able to secure some press for him last year and just helped to spread the word about some of the things he was doing,” she continues. It’s this passion for community that propels RagTrade forward in its mission. “Support your local designers,” said Dr. Hammonds, an advisory board member who challenges the ATL community. “Create a positive culture of conscious and fashionable global citizens.” Of course, the organization’s fashion show is a fun and interesting way to do so.

rag3This year’s show features some of the top emerging designers in the city. Brendan Combs’ fusion of sleek and refined tailoring with a modern edge and futuristic twist is sure to capture some attention. Natt Taylor, winner of the Belk’s Southern Designer showcase, is sure to have the audience celebrating womenswear with her “Safari Elegance” collection. Meanwhile, Edmond Newton will present some “Fashion Rebel Chic,” while Zachary Howell will show off dramatic evening wear that corresponds with Dark Paradise, his fashion philosophy. Designing with the classy yet sassy woman in mind, Kenya Freeman will present her latest collections from her Sylvia Mollie brand. Between an amazing display of all this talent will be designs handcrafted by fashion students at the Atlanta Art Institute. Whether fond of mens or womenswear, dark or bright, edgy or sophisticated, modern or vintage, the 2015 RagTrade Runway show is sure to wow, compel and show off the emerging Atlanta fashion scene. With a style lounge for viewing pleasure and such a vast array of expertise readily available, it’s a show you don’t want to miss. But RagTrade isn’t all fun and games; it’s about business too.

rag1“Being educated and having resources is the most important thing,” Watts explains. “Sometimes designers don’t take the business of fashion seriously, so really knowing and being educated about the industry–knowing what a collection is, knowing how to put a collection together–is key.” For this reason, RagTrade extends its reach beyond runway shows and works to enhance and share business knowledge to emerging designers as well. The entire process of putting the runway show together is backed by collaborations, workshops and mentoring. As the fashion director of the Art Institute of Atlanta, Hammonds also acknowledges the importance of business as a key to success. “The ultimate objective,” he writes “is for students to be refined into tomorrow’s creative intellects and leave a mark within the industry that’s long lasting.”

Sure, it’s no secret that New York, Los Angeles, Milan, London and Paris are well known fashion hubs. But if you don’t realize that Atlanta is well on its way to becoming one as well, now you do. Meshing the drive of New York City with the intimacy of a small town feel, Atlanta brings something new and fresh to the fashion industry. RagTrade Atlanta is a major force behind that vision; it is “fashion’s next voice.” Aiming to emulate the popularity and success of some of the world’s largest fashion events, RagTrade has planned the following for the week of Oct. 12; the Opening Night Party will take place on Oct. 13; the Runway Show on October 14; a VIP Sip and Stroll at Phipps Plaza on the 15; and the Lincoln Motor Company Exclusive Test Drive on the 16th.

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For only $30, the event promises to be one of a kind. Even better, proceeds from the Runway show help benefit charity. Passionate, exciting and innovative, RagTrade Atlanta continues to go above and beyond expectations. There’s no doubt about it–RagTrade ensures that the Atlanta fashion scene will make its mark permanently.

-Sharita Gilmore