CLEVELAND – Cleveland is home to many talented artists, including fashion designers.
A Canadian transplant who recently moved to the city discovered that there weren’t many venues to showcase their high fashion designs, so it is transforming the local industry and making it a more inclusive place for everyone.
Aimon Ali has worked in the fashion industry for over a decade. She spent seven years in Canada organizing large-scale fashion events in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver. She moved to Cleveland three years ago.
âToronto is a much bigger city so it’s very diverse and you can find all types of people and when I moved to Cleveland I had a bit of a hard time finding the same kind of crowd at first. I was used to it, âAli said. . “But slowly, I started to meet these amazing people, but I didn’t see a fashion scene.”
Instead of just accepting this, Ali decided to create his own scene. She began Fashion conferences, a production company focused on hosting high-quality fashion events in Cleveland with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
âIt’s not your typical tall, skinny blonde that we always see in the industry. We are more inclusive in all shapes, colors, sizes, âsaid Ali. âWe include the body, we have plus size models on the catwalk, we have models of different ethnicities, of different sizes, of different origins, just from different backgrounds. We want to give everyone a fair opportunity. “
The company is holding its first fashion show at Madison in Cleveland on July 31.
The event features several local designers and models, including Mary Verdi-Fletcher. In addition to modeling on the show, she will be honored as one of five “Cleveland Ladies of Influence”.
âWe actually handpicked five ladies in Cleveland who we think are contributing and doing amazing things in Cleveland,â Ali said.
Verdi-Fletcher was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, but that has never stopped her from pursuing her dreams. She founded Dancing Wheels, the first physically integrated dance company in the United States.
âMy job is to connect with people and awaken them to possibilities,â said Verdi-Fletcher.
Next Saturday, she adds “model” to her CV.
âSomeone my age and working in the arts, I think it’s a good mix,â said Verdi-Fletcher. “We’re going to show up and walk the track, or ride, in my case.”
In addition to the catwalks, the company hosts networking events for designers, influencers, and models in the hopes of building a thriving Cleveland fashion community.
âThis event is very useful,â said designer Victoria Cohen. “These are great photography opportunities, these are great business opportunities to schedule photoshoots or get clients, and just to grow as a designer.”
For Verdi-Fletcher, Fashion Talks and Ali are a breath of fresh air.
âBeing inclusive can mean a lot of different things, but I think it covers the depth and breadth of what it should be in our communities, so it’s age, ethnicity, ability, everything. this, âsaid Verdi-Fletcher.
Ali said they are already expecting 300 people at the parade, but this is just the start of their plans to shake things up in northeast Ohio.
âI’m really excited to be in Cleveland, and I hope to bring something new,â Ali said.
More information about the Fashion Talks show can be found here.
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