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Fabulous fashion forum

Sacramento Fashion Week came and went much too quickly. The week dedicated to Sacramento fashion was not all glamor and included several workshops.

As part of the week long schedule there was the return of a panel discussion when Sacramento State University hosted the 2013 Sacramento Fashion Week (SACFW) Fashion Forum. In collaboration with Sacramento Fashion Association (SFA) the forum was held at Sac State’s University Union on Monday, Feb. 25.

Sacramento Fashion Week’s Fashion Forum panel

The moderator for the SACFW event was Tracy Saville, CEO & Publisher of Possibility Media Group.

Sacramento Fashion Week’s Fashion Forum with Tracy Saville

The open panel discussion included various industry professionals and was open to the public.

Former International Academy of Design and Technology instructor Ester Amato was the first panel member introduced. Amato recently began teaching at Sac State. She began by describing her fashion background saying, “I just started here at Sac State, teaching, I’ve actually been in the industry for 30 years in every area of fashion designing. I’ve traveled all over the world in the name of fashion and had my own company for several years.”

Amato is proud of having had several of her students become involved in SACFW. “Several of the designers are students that I taught,” said Amato. She also takes pride in mentoring several of them and said, “ I’m actually going to be like a mother out there excited to see them go down the runway knowing that I had them when they started out so it’s going to be amazing.”

Sacramento Fashion Week’s Fashion Forum with (right to left) Ester Amato, Uduak Oduok and Naima Mora

Joining Amato was Uduak Oduok, Founder & Editor in Chief of Ladybrille Magazine and Attorney & Partner at Ebitu Law Group. Oduok welcomed the audience and during her introduction said, “I have been practicing for the past 12 years I look forward to sharing some insight and hopefully you’ll walk away empowered and hopefully some of you might think about being fashion lawyers.”

With over 20 years of experience in the fashion and entertainment industry, Oduok brought a wealth of legal knowledge to the forum. Oduok has spoken at previous Sacramento Fashion Week workshops about contract, business, licensing, copyright and trademark law as it applies to business, modeling and everyday law.

Naima Mora, winner of America’s Next Top Model (Cycle 4), also joined the forum panel. Mora competed with regional models Noelle Staggers (Reno, NV) and Lluviana "Lluvy" Gomez-Gibbs (Modesto, CA) in America’s Next Top Model. Staggers and Gomez-Gibbs have modeled for local designers at Couture Press fashion shows in Sacramento.

Mora continued to model after the 2005 competition and has been involved in music and recently authored her first book “Model Behavior”.

Sacramento Fashion Week’s Fashion Forum with Naima Mora and Gerry Simpson

Mora summarized her background saying, “I’ve been involved in the fashion industry over the last 6-7 years since winning America’s Top Model. I’m the singer of my rock band, I sing and play guitar and I just published a book actually with Tracy (Saville) called Model Behavior. So I guess my favorite part about Sacramento Fashion Week is just being able to partake in supporting all the emerging talent that comes out of lesser known fashion cities.“

Mora let the audience know that she’s from Detroit and said other smaller cities like Sacramento have a lot of unhidden talent. In describing local designer talent Mora said, “I’m seeing things I haven’t seen before because the designers are like untouched, you know, they’re not living in these huge fashion cities that are recycling ideas that you see over and over again.”

Returning as a panelist was Gerry Simpson, Model Coach/Visual Artist & Photographer for GOS” Art.

Simpson told the forum audience how he became involved in fashion. “I got into fashion when I was nine years old. I have a twin brother and my mother hired us out to model so I got my first job as a model. My twin became a mechanic and I kept on modeling,” said Simpson.

Sacramento Fashion Week’s Fashion Forum with Gerry Simpson

Simpson continued, “I took to modeling and my modeling got me into fashion design and making clothing. I won a trip to California 29 years ago. I was supposed to be here a week and I’ve been here 29 years. I’ve been in visual merchandising, stylist for Nordstrom. I’m currently a self-taught photographer and artist 13 years.

The talented artist will also be exhibiting a fine art and photo exhibit during this month’s Second Saturday. An opening reception is scheduled on Mar. 9 from noon to 5 pm. The exhibit is being held at the Brickhouse Art Gallery located at 2837 36th Street, off of Broadway.

Amy Wister was also part of the panel. Wister told the audience, “I’m probably an anomaly in the panel here. I do not have a traditional fashion background. My background is in IT so I got here through a very interesting journey I’m the founder and CEO of a company named The Stylist Online. We have a proprietary system that teaches women a lot about their body types and really how to embrace their individual figure.”

The Stylist Online has many helpful suggestions for everyone on their website and as Wister put it, “We work with everyday people on an everyday basis.”

Wister also told the audience that the forum and other SACFW workshops would pay dividends for the students and commended them for being at the event.

Sacramento Fashion Week’s Fashion Forum with Amy T. Wister and Gerry Simpson

Amber Collins, a former model, was the sixth and final panelist. The model talent agent began by telling the audience something about her Sacramento based company Cast Images Talent Agency and what they do.

Collins described her fashion background as a model working in the larger fashion trend setting cities such as Paris, Milan and other places. Her 20 year career as a model and casting agent has brought her to work with clients such as Calvin Klein, Trussardi, Abercrombie, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s Macy’s, Nordstrom and many others.

Sacramento Fashion Week’s Fashion Forum with Amber Collins and Amy T. Wister

Collins also said a few words about SACFW saying, “Everyone working in Sac Fashion Week is absolutely doing it for passion.” Collins continued, “Every year it gets better and better. There are so many things that are getting better but there’s still not a lot of infrastructure in our city, so everybody who’s working on this does it because they are very passionate. They’re passionate about fashion, they’re passionate about their community, they’re passionate about working so that we all get together and together we raise this city and the things that are going on in it and that really moves me. I love seeing everyone working on this event and doing it as a volunteer. They do it just for the love of fashion and there is so much comradery as well so I think that’s my biggest pleasure.”

Such passionate and positive words continued through the forum as the panel discussed their work and gave supportive advise.

Other interesting topics included the impact of social media. The panel offered suggestions on what to focus on such as quality not quantity, not overexposing personal information and being on point not just posting noise. Personal branding was another topic discussed as well as addressing opinionated social media exchanges.

After the forum ended a mixer hosted by the Sac State Student Fashion Association was held across the hall from the panel room. Students, guests and panel members chatted about the event and SACFW.

Sac State SFA mixer
Sac State SFA mixer
Sac State SFA mixer
Sac State SFA mixer

SFA together with SACFW did a great job in hosting the Fashion Forum which gave valuable information to students and guests interested in the fashion industry.

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