Milwaukee Fashion Week

Milwaukee Fashion Week Brings on the Talent

Meet the local designers featured when Milwaukee Fashion Week returns in October!

By - Sep 11th, 2019 03:10 pm
Model: Brittany Victoria. Designer: Mj Designs. Hair & Makeup Artist: Robyn Schlei. Photographer: Dave Hathaway.

Model: Brittany Victoria. Designer: Mj Designs. Hair & Makeup Artist: Robyn Schlei. Photographer: Dave Hathaway.

Lights – Camera – Fashion! Milwaukee Fashion Week is gearing up for their 5th annual event, which includes three nights of incredible talent and endless runways, while supporting the health of our community.

During the week of October 6th, Milwaukee Fashion Week (MKEFW) will feature a variety of industry events throughout the Milwaukee area, including showcases at the newest Black Swan venue Plant No. 4, as well as an elaborate Gala event at the Harley-Davidson Museum complete with a sit-down dinner, fashion show, entertainment and more. Tickets are available for all events, however, the tickets for the industrial-chic Gala will only be available until September 25th. Tickets can be purchased here.

MKEFW partners with a different local nonprofit organization each year. This year, they will partner with the Charles E. Kubly Foundation, which seek to better the lives of those affected by depression. National Depression Education & Awareness Month takes place in October, and the week of October 6th specifically is Mental Health Awareness Week. The Charles E. Kubly Foundation works to increase public awareness of depression and its devestating effects, defeats the stigma associated with the disease, and supports suicide prevention programs, all while bringing improved access to quality mental health resources within communities.

“While the runway shows will be the highlight of our Fashion Week, we want to ensure sponsors, participants, and the community walk away with more,” says Director of Marketing and Communications Brittany Peterson.

This year’s talent includes a mixture of 29 designers stylists, and boutiques. Each evening will feature a diverse range of fashion. With new and familiar faces, the 2019 showcases will include rockstar inspired designer and artist Paula Hare of Gearhead Fashion, retro/vintage inspired designer Pamela Marie of PM Designs by Pamela Marie, a highly anticipated collaboration between Alex Hart of Build-A-Bow LLC and Nas Lane of NL Suits, and a jaw-dropping showcase by Elena Velez.

“Milwaukee is full of creatives and artists; we want to foster those relationships and provide everyone with a look into the city’s thriving fashion scene,” says Peterson.

And this year’s perhaps grandest event will be the much-anticipated Gala. Taking place inside The Garage at The Harley-Davidson Museum, this event includes a sit-down dinner, an elaborate fashion show, Riggs & Alley from 103.7 Kiss FM as guest emcees for the night, a special Lady Gaga inspired performance by Cynthia Starich, and more.

There will be eight unique showcases walking The Gala runway, and below features a sneak peak of what a few designers have in store.

Build-A-Bow and NL Suits

Racine resident Alex Hart-Upendo has a keen scene for both fashion and business. And he’s only 10-years-old.

Since the age of 5, the now fifth-grader has been building the foundation of his own budding fashion and special events business: Build-A-Bow. It’s aptly titled, because shoppers can truly build their own custom bowtie, hair bows and pet bows.

The company started when 5-year-old Alex was tested as gifted, having an IQ higher than most children in his age group. This unfortunately left him isolated and bullied by his fellow peers. He wanted to take the negative term “nerd” and turn it into something positive and fashionable.

From being bullied to bowties, now 10-year-old Alex holds a successful company that not only creates bowties, but also hosts monthly community workshops. He has written and published a book titled “Bullies Bowties and Brilliant Alex,” and even donates his books for underprivileged children and schools. He is dedicated to changing the world and impacting the lives of others one bow at a time.

For MKEFW 2019, Alex is teaming up with Nas Laine of NL Suits. Nas Laine dresses many Milwaukee-area executives and professional athletes, as well as artists who come into town. What’s most important to him, though, is creating custom suits in all price ranges. Some NL Suits shoppers include athletes like Donald Driver and Shaq, and comedians Brian Quinn and Joe Gatto from Impractical Jockers.

This duo will bring Milwaukee suits and bowties together to create one deeply stylish, creative line!


Known for their signature Dino Harem pants that have been spotted on the children of Beyoncé and Jay Z, the Kardashians, and featured on The Today Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and more, co-founders and lead design boss ladies Michelle and Andrea teamed up in 2014 to create theMINIclassy.

TheMINIclassy is a super cool, high-end kids’ streetwear brand. Michelle and Andrea are two moms with an extensive educational background in fashion and felt their style of clothing was something that was missing in the children’s fashion world. The Original Dino Harem Pants put their brand on the map, and they have now grown to offer amazing quality bottoms and everything from bloomers to outerwear for newborn children to up to 12-years-old.

In under five years, the duo went from sewing at a dining room table to selling their clothing line at stores worldwide, including luxury retailers Nordstrom and Barneys New York, as well as many other high-end boutiques.

All of theMINIclassy garments are curated to be uniquely fashionable and functional. Every design is kid tested and approved, all while being made in the USA. See how theMINIclassy helps encourage kids to be themselves: this fashion line is for all the little dreamers out there.

Elena Velez

A native of Milwaukee, Elena is a recent graduate of the Parsons School of Design with a duel focus on fashion design and creative entrepreneurship. Her thesis collection was shown in September 2018 at both New York Fashion Week, under the mentorship of VFiles, and London Fashion Week as a guest of the Swedish Fashion Council. Featured in Vogue, Business of Fashion, Office Magazine, The Cut, WWD, Vice, Paper Magazine, and Dazed, her work has taken her around the world from Paris to Sydney, and finally New York where she currently resides.

But for MKEFW, Elena is back in her hometown to showcase her current work. She is best known for and has received international attention for her integration of custom forged, bespoke steel features. Her brand mission centers on the pillars of sustainability, self-sufficiency and authentic co-design. At the core is a call for urgency in the democratization of creative capital in the U.S. through the empowerment of young professionals in underserved artistic communities like her own. Through mentorship, collaboration, accessibility, and skill sharing, community bonds are strengthened.

Elena aspires to lead a quietly conscious fashion label that rejects current industry conventions of excess, exclusion, and geographical condescension, while stressing authentic process, community engagement and compelling storytelling. Her works have been seen on Solange, Grimes, Charli XCX, and Brooke Candy. Recent commissions include custom tour and appearance looks for the Kali Uchis, Arianna Grande, and Halsey tours.

Tickets for Milwaukee Fashion Week are on sale now and will range in price from $30 to $125. And, right now, MKEFW is holding a great sale for this week only. When using code SAVE15 on their ticket page, attendees can save $15 on their Gala tickets, and see these designers (as well as so many others) in action.

Milwaukee Fashion Week showcases begin October 9th at 6:30 p.m. The first two nights will take place at Plant No. 4 at 219 N. Milwaukee St. The Gala will take place on October 11th at The Garage in the Harley-Davison Museum. The Garage is located at 500 W. Canal St. For more information on MKEFW, visit its website. To see Urban Milwaukee’s 2018 recap article, follow this link. And, to purchase tickets of your own, visit the ticketing site.


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