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From Boardwalk to Runway

As California's southern-most urban center, San Diego may be known worldwide for its beaches, pricy real estate and laid-back attitude, but the state's second-largest and the nation's seventh-largest city by population is aiming to make its mark on...

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with contributions from Rachel Brown
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Downtown San Diego.

Photo By WWD Staff

As California's southern-most urban center, San Diego may be known worldwide for its beaches, pricy real estate and laid-back attitude, but the state's second-largest and the nation's seventh-largest city by population is aiming to make its mark on the international fashion scene.

The first San Diego Fashion Week, scheduled for Sept. 28 to Oct. 5, will spotlight 15 local and international designers who are doing business in New York and beyond.

Organizer Allison Andrews, a local fashion publicist, conceived the idea three years ago, and the event will finally be unveiled this fall. The venue, a 20,000-square-foot tent with a 3,000-person capacity situated on Sheridan Harbor Island, will offer visitors a panorama of the city, with views of the downtown skyline, the Coronado bridge and Point Loma.

The event will be for press, but the public will also be able to buy tickets to shows, seminars and events. Andrews estimates the press value to be worth about $600 million to the city.

"We think this event will change how people think of San Diego. Saying everybody from here is a surfer is far from the truth. There are a million natives like me who have never touched a surfboard," she said. "I want the people living here who appreciate the finer things in life to have another outlet.

"The women who live in affluent Rancho Santa Fe are driving up to South Coast Plaza to shop when there are couture-level designers working in their backyard."

Their wares are a far cry from the active sportswear that the city is primarily known for. ASR Expo, the world's premier trade show for the surf, skate and snowboard industries, has called San Diego home since 1989, with a show held in the city's waterfront convention center each year in September and January.

Drawing an estimated $40 million in business annually to the city, ASR features over 700 action sports brands, attracting some 7,000 retail buyers and other attendees. Soft goods make up about 70 percent of the mix at ASR.

"San Diego really embodies the action sports lifestyle," said ASR show director Andy Tompkins. "From the brands and athletes that grow up in the area to the surf breaks and skate parks, it is a great host city for our show. Buyers love to check out local retailers and see what trends are happening. It really is one of the centers of action sports fashion."
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