Now Reading
Madison Fashion Weak?

A man and woman holding hands while walking down the street.
The Return of Indie Sleaze Style
A view of the city skyline at dusk.
Hipster Travel Guide | Minneapolis, MN
A woman in red and blue shirt dress standing on street.
How To Make A Hockey Jersey Look SEXY
A cat sitting on top of a stack of soda bottles.
Follow This: Bodega Cats of Instagram
A woman with long hair and black nails holding a necklace.
Bushwick Hipsters
A view of the river from above in autumn.
What to Wear on a Day Hike
A person holding up a large ice cream cone.
A group of people walking down the street at night.
Hipster Travel Guide |New Orleans
A woman wearing a hat and holding onto some steps
80's Dad Glasses Are A Thing

Madison Fashion Weak?

Putting on a fashion week in Madison is about as awkward as deer hunting in Manhattan. Yet, unlike the impossibility of hunting game in NYC, apparently, a fashion week in Madison is achievable. Though an obvious sense of uncertainty is felt when putting the words, fashion and Madison, in the same sentence.
The ambivalence stems from the fact that the two entities barely know each other and people rarely dare to introduce them. Living in the Midwest, you think we’d be used to hearing “fashion” said with discretion. It wasn’t even until 2006 that Chicago, the Midwest’s honorary fashion capitol, finally began hosting their own fashion week. And, just two years later, the Midwestern metropolis known better for cheese than clothes, followed suit.
In April 2008, Madison, Wisconsin held their very own fashion week. Runways, models, after parties and all! I was there, intrigued, hopeful and still apprehensive.
To make one thing clear, it wasn’t so much a fashion week as it was an extended weekend of fashion-inspired events. Workshops including, “Careers in Fashionâ€, “Celebrity Styling†and “Runway Ready Hairâ€, were intertwined with two runway events and an accessories show.
The main event was on a Saturday. Upon arrival I scanned the room to see what I was in for. Immediately, I noticed the sod-laden runway, which quickly went from charming to cheap. As I took my seat, I glanced over at my fellow front-rowers. I was overwhelmed with the lack of fashion forward youth. Isn’t that who the front row is for?
Instead, there was an abundance of “over 35†ladies dressed in poly-blend blouses and flared black pants, adorned in gobs of silver jewelry. Not that I think fashion should have an age limit but the entire week(end) seemed to lack the innovative youth culture that Madison is built on.
Down the row, I finally spotted a fellow fashionista. The woman, probably from out of town, wore a crisp white trench coat, black skirt, tights and heels. Her hair, impeccable, in a long, sleek ponytail.
After spotting the singular style maven, I started to believe that the event must have been poorly promoted. While I’m sure it was difficult to target the right demographic, the fact stands that a more youthful crowd should have been in attendance. I don’t think any of them even knew the events were taking place.
For the show, both designers and retailers from the Madison area showed their goods. The only inventive designs on the runway came from 18 year-old local, Kayla Garland. Garland is the driving force behind Maverick Clothing, a line of uniquely reconstructed garments inspired by the designer’s vintage finds.
On Maverick’s runway, models were styled with hippie-ish knit hats, thin headbands with feathers, and vintage neck scarves, channeling the bohemian vibe that the rest of the weekend’s events were desperately lacking.
Obviously, there were obstacles, but Madison Fashion Week achieved what should have been their greatest goal. Through the events, they changed the perceptions of many style uncertain locals. I think with re-targeted promotion and due time, Madison Fashion Week has the ability to be the launchpad for making its city another great indie style destination.

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (15)
  • Giving birth is never weak.

    What should take a team of people and significant financial backing, was produced and created entirely by myself. Try to envision the man hours this took… and the cash. Now triple that. No one had done this before in Madison. There was a lot of education and ground breaking to do.

    Let’s be clear… Madison Fashion Week is elitist-free. Fashion should be accessible whether you’re a 21-year-old perky model or a 60-year-old foxy grandma.

    Poorly promoted? NBC, CW, Badger Herald, Capital Times, Isthmus all did advance coverage of the events through my PR efforts. There were no big budgets for grand advertising…. which helped to keep the ticket prices at $5 for most of the events. The events were well attended. To me… that says promotion worked.

    The same week of Madison Fashion Week, Chicago Fashion Week was also scheduled to take place. The organizers canceled all events the week of. Seems they couldn’t pull off the events without their major sponsor who had backed out. Perhaps you should be calling them “weak.”

  • Chicago Fashion Week IS weak AND fake, for that matter. The real fashion week in Chicago is called ” Fashion Focus Chicago”.

    I don’t think the author meant any harm, just personal thoughts and constructive criticism.

  • The great thing about the midwest is that we are not slaves to fashion, instead fashion is an option. Most importantly, fashion is an attitude and after reading the writers review let me just say one thing…whatever you wear I hope it matches condecending, discouraging, and rude because that is how I read into it. No costume jewels can distract from your envy of someone elses attempt at spawning greatness. There is fashion in Madison, but you have to be intelligent enough to resist the use of cliche cheese and beer descriptions and dig a little deeper into the heart of our fine city. Don’t worry, lonely columnist, we are also a very forgiving city, not weak by any means.

  • I was hesitant when I first heard about Kristi’s plan for a series of fashion-themed events in Madison. That kind of thing hadn’t been tried here, at least not to my knowledge, in the eight years that I’ve called Madison my home. All in all I was delighted with the events that Kristi and her team put together. I’ve worked with community theatre groups in Madison and have had to promote events with little or no money budgeted for marketing and advertising. Somehow Kristi managed to get a lot of sponsorships and free airtime, column inches, and Web site mentions for something that most people would have thought impossible. I was surprised.

    More importantly, MFW proved to fashion designers, retailers, and consumers that Madison can get its act together and that there is a fashion community here. I urge the interested parties to pull together and learn from one another, cross-promote, and take part in future fashion-themed events in Madison. I should also mention that there is a more underground or fringe fashion element here in Madison. Shows like Pink Milk, held a few months ago at High Noon Saloon, used only found and recycled items for its outfits, and at was a good show. It was well-attended, with a demographic skewed towards the under-30 fashion-forward set.

    I’m looking forward to the next Madison fashion event! Keep up the good work, Kristi.

  • First of all, I believe that if you critique an event you should at least have some knowledge about the industry and be able to walk-the-walk instead of finger pointing and looking for ways to criticize based on cheese head and deer hunting perceptions. That’s just mean but I bet you thought you we’re being cute and funny. Would you really like it if I critcized you based on your picture? I’ve seen it and I have to tell you, I’m not impressed. Should you really be writing an article about fashion? Hmmm! I don’t think so! You had the oportunity to put up a great picture of yourself but chose not to. I doubt it’s even in focus. Maybe you just don’t care. Believe me I could go on based on one little picture of you. But I won’t because that would be mean. And by the way! Since when is a fashion show put on for the youth who should be sitting in the front row? Are you serious about that comment?

    The event had it’s problems but it was a huge success given all that went on. I was there! And, unlike you, I’m in the buisness and will honestly critique it. Will it get better the next time? You bet! Any fool can look to the negative and write about it. We see that all day long.

    In addition, the website you write on is poorly done with broken links, page erros, with no links and page rank. Which means, no one reads it or it has little or no credibility.

    Next time you write a critique try not to be evil.

  • I think the Madison Fashion Week shows an “awakening” so-to-speak, in the Mid West. I love the idea and I feel it shows fashion has no boundaries — or age prerogatives. Also the wonderful thing about fashion is that there is no right or wrong — it’s all about perspective and stance. I think the article just shows one agenda — not all. I see the authors point on a few areas. Sure, Madison is not dubbed the Fashion Mecca of the Mid West so I can understand the resistances she must have felt at first. But there is a point I do not agree with…

    As a woman (24-years-old) in the industries, I find myself more and more intrigued, and inspired by age, experience, and wisdom. Sure, 20-year-old hotties are great arm candy, but are they the substance of fashion today? Absolutely not. In fact, I think the authors point about age just shows her lack of fashion authenticity, or experiance. (Karl Lagerfield, Betsy Johnson, Versace…all over 40 years old and still creating the most fashion-forward threads today.) Also, look at the fashion chaos that was stirred by the four most influential women in mainstream fashion: Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. I’d love a list of ground-breaking fashion designers/trend setters in the family today that are not influenced by our fashion big brothers and sisters? Miley Cyrus is cute and young, and I hear she has a clothing line coming out… I hope the author gets front row for her collection launch.

  • I don’t see a need to get defensive or rude to the Maggie. She was just writing her opinion as an independent observer of the event. I understand that MFW targets a certain demographic, as those are the ones who can afford to buy the clothes they see on the runway. That’s the way things work out where I live, anyway.

    I also take issue with the belief that just because someone is young, they must have bad taste/only like things that are “cute”. I didn’t see Madison Fashion Week, but I feel Maggie’s longing for something more cutting edge in the Midwest, as opposed to something mainstream and retail-oriented.

  • I’m not surprised Kristi Moe is insecure. I took a look at her and it makes sense.

    As for you you, ANONYMOUS #2, you were probably one of the poorly dressed women in the front row.

    If you were really in the industry, you would post a link to your company’s website so we could see your face.

    I agree with Diane, leave Maggie alone. I guess if I was old and lived in Madison I would be bored enough to sit on my computer and talk shit about a young girl, too.

    This website might not be “credible” in your eyes but it is NOT poorly done. At least they don’t use a cheap, 90’s template with some HORRIBLY dressed model as the focus. If that’s what you chose to represent Madison, I feel like there may be some truth as to what Maggie wrote.

    I guess there’s a reason some people aren’t New Yorkers.

    Remove yourselves from your little bubble, grow some balls and get your shit together.

  • Bottom Line: Madison Fashion Week was a success because it broke a barrier. Other than that I stick with my opinions and respect yours. I completely believe that Madison and cities across the Midwest have huge potential, there fore, I have high expectations for them. I didn’t want to see something that represented what people expect to see in the Midwest. I wanted to see something that transcended those views, just like we are trying to do at this website.

    I don’t think fashion has an age limit. In fact, I agree with Lisa. The greatest minds and faces in the industry are older, but they don’t live anywhere near here. In Madison, style innovation and creativity is located within the younger sect—students from all over the world bringing and mixing their ideas and views. These are the people who will bring Madison Fashion Week full circle. Madison Fashion Week severely lacked representation from this population.

    I can only imagine what an undertaking it must have been for one woman, Kristi, to put together and applaud her for doing it, someone had to. But it is rare for anything to be perfect the first time around. You go for it, see what works and what doesn’t then try again, etc. As I state in my article, I believe this is a step forward and a great foundation to build on.

  • First of all, I totally applaud Kristi Moe for putting together Madison Fashion Week. However, this is fashion. It’s art. And like art, it’s subjective. Therefore, there will always be a slew of contridicting opinions and bad reviews.

    I suggest to Kristi (and anyone else in the industry) to get a thicker skin.

    And the above article wasn’t even that harsh. Maggie seemed careful to remind her readers of the potential that the event showed. Plus, it was written from the perspective of a young writer. So it’s hardly surprising that she’d be most inspired by young designers and youthful styles. It’s important that everyone can feel free to add their two cents to the discussion.

    To Kristi, you have a thousand reasons to be proud of what you accomplished. And rather than spending your time hating on those that have a different opinion, why don’t you take whatever constructive criticism you can glean from this article and work to make next year’s event even better.

  • I think “article” is a stretch – this isn’t journalism. I’d have liked to read some comments from other attendees rather than a one-sided Chicago perspective. I lived in Madison through my early and mid twenties and just moved to Chicago; there is a lot more going on creatively than just what’s happening in the younger set, and even older ladies in poly-blend blouses and black slacks have an appreciation for it whether they sport it at the fashion show or not. Judge the show by the character of the location, not what you think the character of the location should be – it’s a city where people can be comfortable as themselves whether that means sending cheeky boho styles down a runway or showing up to watch in something more sedate.

    This is certainly not the most mean-spirited post I’ve read here, but neither is it the most well-informed; I’ve never read a style page where the writer failed to talk to other people at a fashion event (what did the lady in the white trench think about the show? you’re publishing – a perfect excuse to approach and ask). I’d urge you to step outside your own perspective once in a while and see what people think beyond the tiny hipster world this blog looks out at the rest of the world from.

  • I believe that when the author refers to people from Wisconsin as “cheese heads” and uses “deer hunting” when refering to Wisconsin fashion is meant as an insult. Saying that the only woman who was well dressed “must have been from out of town” is hurtful and insulting to almost everyone. There is no other way that to take those words. She’s a (so called) journalist. She knows what those words mean and how she used them to make a point. I did notice that the author called this out-of-town woman a “fellow” fashionista. Nice cover!

    I agree with the other comments regarding her critique as well. But the one that really got me was this “. . . .Not that I think fashion should have an age limit but the entire week(end) seemed to lack the innovative youth culture that Madison is built on. . . .”

    Wow! Madison is built on the innovative youth culture? Who knew! Now you’re just making up stuff! How old are you by the way and can you name me one innovative youth?

  • As someone who helped out during fashion week, both behind the scenes and directly with the designers, I have to say that I think Fashion Week was a great time and a great experience for everyone. I have talked to many people in the community who attended the event who actually have fashion credentials (i.e. store owners, photographers, stylists, and models), and everyone felt that it was a great event and look forward to participating in future fashion weeks! Consider Madison’s first fashion week a starting point. It will only get better from here, and I look forward to watching MFW grow into something even more fabulous! Way to go, Kristi!

  • As one of the models, as well as an international model, I would like to applaud Kristi. MFW was ground breaking. Coming to Madison I was appalled by the fashion (or lack thereof) but with events like Madison Fashion Week, as well as Fashion Fridays (both which Kristi and her team put on), people who genuinely appreciate style and art can come together and network/discuss/share/exhibit. MFW was just the FIRST fashion week that Madison put on and if you think that organizing and event THIS big for the FIRST time and broadening horizons is easy, I suggest that you start organizing a new one, with no funding and minimal support (except for encouragement, but even some people refuse to give that). True this Fashion Week didn’t have as many designers as the NYC fashion week but like I mentioned before, Madison is not yet a haven for fashion, think of it as a budding flower. With time, with support, with events like these, it could blossom into another midwest fashion capitol. If someone else could name another fashion event in Madison that topped this (or just another one in general that Kristi didn’t put on) please, enlighten me.

    Just because some people don’t support fashion, doesn’t mean that MFW or any other fashion events are a complete waste of time. That’s like saying that any political or social movement is a waste of time. And if you can find a movement that only supports a certain age group/race/gender, then it isn’t a movement.

    As for those of you writing horrendous disrespectful responses (not criticism, i’m talking bashing), I suggest you TRY to 1) organize something like this in a town like this and 2) get up on the fucking runway and walk it. I would LOVE to see you try. And for those of you who commented on the runway, have you ever heard of the words originality and creativity? In order to make an event (especially a groundbreaking one like this) memorable, you HAVE to have something different. The fact that you’re targeting someone and insulting them just shows how insecure YOU are.
    Maggie we all appreciate your criticism, it is after all, journalism. And without opinion there would be no stepping stone to evolve. And isn’t this what it’s all about? We got great responses and reviews from the other media, we could do with an opposing opinion, it’s just another way of showing your support ;).
    Madison Fashion Week wasn’t just a place for fashionistas to share a passion, it was a revolution.

  • Anonymous #2:
    Did you really just waste that much time criticizing someone?
    “And, unlike you, I’m in the buisness and will honestly critique it.”
    She DID honestly critique it..just cause it didnt agree with your “in-the-business”(ha please) view doesn’t mean shes “lying” about it.
    Also are you seriously attacking her picture? She didn’t choose to put that one up actually. Maybe you have seen her around Madison? Ha yeah stop talking.

    This article is exactly what the “fashion week” was! Yes i hope next year it will be better, but she wrote what she saw and why it wasn’t mind-blowing impressing.
    I love your writing Maggie. Your articles are my favorite to read. Keep it up!

© 2020 All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top