Voltage & MNFashion 2009: Buy Minnesota, for Minnesota

A springy look from Voltage 09 <a href="">(click here for more)</a>

A springy look from Voltage 09 (click here for more)

It was a full week of fashion events in the Twin Cities last week. If you're into fashion or music or just wanted to see what all the hype was about, chances are you either went to the main event, Voltage Fashion Amplified, or maybe you indulged in one of the many other events that made up Fashion Week 2009, completing its 5th year. Since 2004, we Minnesotans have learned a lot about killer fashion events and how to dress for them, and for each of these events, we want to be unique, just like everyone else. And if MNFashion Week showed us anything this year, it's that quality and originality is right here in our back yard. Recapping an exhausting week of sewing and, happily, sales, Voltage designers Becca Kohler, Bonnie Vig, Max Lohrbach, Allison Quinnell, and Christine Carmichael gathered at Design Collective's Mimosa Reception Sunday afternoon in Uptown. Some of them sell here exclusively while nine others sell down the street at Cliche. Many of them have sold quite few pieces already, and will be heading home to cut, pin and drape custom orders for those who crave couture frocks without all the runway size restrictions.  

"Quality work is just as important to the Voltage entrance panel as concept," says Quinnell. "The Voltage pieces are impeccable, made with 100% integrity." 

Becca and Bonnie of 2709 compare their hands-on creative approach to fashion design to the process they use to create product for mass retail: "Handling the materials and designing that first prototype allows us to react to design problems in the moment, creating a more innovative result." 


In mass product production for chain stores, that entire process is left to a vendor in China, who many times, will never get a chance to directly collaborate with the designer here at home. But now that Fashion Week 2009 is over, are we back to chain stores and strip mall clearance racks? Last time we checked, our economy was coming apart at the seams and the cost of skilled American labor drives up the price tag of that gorgeous couture dress by your favorite local designer. 

Take a $140 dress that took 12 hours to make: That's $11/hour, which also has to cover the cost of fabric, materials and overhead. What's left goes to your fellow Minnesotan, the local non-profit organization MN Fashion that supported her, and the local boutique who carries the line. That $140 also goes straight back into the local economy because it's also going to inspire you (and all your fans, of course) to get out to the next event and support your favorite hotspot. Buying local fashion inevitably supports our local economy, and in turn, you. Talk about the perfect economic stimulus all wrapped up in on very pretty package.