Balancing class and building the foundation of a career is something all college upperclassmen are intimately acquainted with.
But few have so much to balance as fashion students in colleges throughout the South as they participate in Birmingham Fashion Week’s Emerging Designer competition.
Kailey Smith, a Florence native and student at Auburn University, has been selected as a semi-finalist in the emerging designer category, a competition geared at giving exposure to college students in the Southeast.
“It’s nerve-racking right now, I’m not used to it,” Smith said. “I’m really excited and I’m trying to make time to stay excited, I’m just so nervous right now.”
This is Smith’s first foray into Birmingham Fashion Week, she said.
There will be a mini runway show at Saks Fifth Avenue in Birmingham today and the buyers from Saks will decide one person to automatically make it to the finals.
Finalists will be selected from runway shows Thursday and Friday.
A runway show of finalists on Saturday will decide the final winner.
“We really wanted to reach out to the colleges and give the students studying fashion a larger platform to show their garments and creativity,” said Birmingham Fashion Week co-founder Heidi Elnora.
Emerging Designer has been a part of Birmingham Fashion Week for the past two years and Elnora said they’ve had success with winners going on to be successful, selling their pieces in private galleries and showing their collections at fashion shows.
Saks is showcasing the work of those competing in Emerging Designer, Elnora said.
“The marketing director of Saks called me and she said, ‘Heidi, we have people wanting to purchase these garments off the rack,’ ” Elnora said. “Which is amazing, it’s an amazing opportunity. I’m a designer myself and I’m in 14 Nordstroms across the country, and I’m not in Saks. It’s a really cool opportunity for them to say ‘I was able to display my garment in Saks.’ ”
Smith said she didn’t plan on going into fashion until she started trying to pick a major at Auburn.
“I’ve always loved fashion and loved all kinds of things creative like painting,” Smith said. “But I didn’t really think of it as a career option until I came to Auburn and went through orientation.”
When she went through the process of picking a major, this was the only one that seemed fun, she said. After going to classes and studying fashion, she really started to fall in love with fashion.
“I like to wear a lot of vintage things,” Smith said about her inspiration for her work.
“I found these fabrics that had these really cool details and had this vintage feel about them. They’re kind of thick and have a heavy weight. They reminded me of older times. I sort of wanted to go with a romantic vintage feel.”
Smith said she’s hoping that her internship this summer will help her decide what her plans after college will be.
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.
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