In recent years, Buffalo State University’s Fashion and Textile Technology Department has promoted social and racial justice themes reflected in its annual Runway fashion show.
The 16th annual Runway, which will be held Saturday, April 22, at 8:00 p.m. in the Sports Arena, is no different. “Provoking Protopias” focuses on the idea of promoting progress on both sustainability and equality fronts while provoking the status quo.
“While we know a utopian world isn’t going to be attainable, we can embrace protopia,” said Erin Habes, ’03, ’18, lecturer and Runway director. “The focus is on provoking and promoting progress, not perfection. This means disrupting societal norms, pushing for a more sustainable fashion industry, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The Runway show in 2021 adopted the theme “History Retailored,” which highlighted the accomplishments of past and present Black fashion designers, and the 2022 Runway show continued with a similar theme, “Pushing for Progress.”
The year’s Runway expands on the idea of progress by deepening the department’s connection to nonprofit organizations, Habes said. Students researched organizations that aligned with this year’s focus and chose Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, Confidential Girl Mentoring Program, and FeedBuffalo as partners and recipients of all proceeds from their Thrift 2 Fight pop-up shop at this year’s show.
Since its debut in 2008, Runway has given students a professional venue to showcase their talents. Runway also collaborates with students in Africana studies, theater, dance, fiber arts, and photography. Students work behind the scenes on marketing, creative direction, logistics, and stylistic choices, including accessories, music, and ambiance to go with the pieces.
This year’s show will highlight the collections of 11 senior designers, showing what Provoking Protopias means to them, along with many other student designers in the program.
Typically, Runway presents an afternoon and an evening show. This year, only the evening show is open to the public. The 2:00 p.m. show will serve as a recruitment event for potential students who have expressed an interest in studying fashion, art, design, theater, and more, Habes said.
“We’re making it like Project Runway, with judges on the stage and a panel discussion before the show begins,” she explained. “We’re also offering a Student Choice Award, where the students can pick their favorite designer. It should be a lot of fun.”
FTT students are also holding a drive for gently used clothing through April 22. Garments can be dropped off at the Fashion Department in the Buffalo State Technology Building. Students will set up a pop-up thrift shop before and during the Runway show. All items will be priced between $5 and $10, and proceeds will benefit the partnering organizations.
“Activism is woven throughout the Runway conversation,” Habes said. “It’s not just flashy fashion. It’s using fashion as a form of activism to bring about change.”
Admission is $20 for the general public and $100 for VIP access, which includes a pre-show party sponsored by Twin Petrels Seltzer Co., reserved seating for the show, and a fabulous swag bag. Doors open at 6:00 p.m., which provides time for shopping at the pop-up shop and posing for photos in a street-style booth set up by presenting media sponsor Buffalo Magazine.
Buffalo Art Movement presents this year’s show; tickets are available on the Runway website.
Photo by Jesse Steffan-Colucci, Buffalo State photographer.
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Fashion and Textile Technology
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