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Fashion Week in Lower Manhattan, no kidding

hola-2010-09-28_z

BY Andrea Riquier

More than 80 fashion designers made it work downtown at Nolcha Fashion Week, held last week at 195 Broadway. The event is an opportunity for independent fashion designers – those not associated with a major house – to showcase their designs. Its sponsor, Nolcha, provides support to independent designers through on-line resources, events, and educational opportunities.

The event is now in its ninth year, but this was the first time it was held in Lower Manhattan. Previously, the farthest south they had ever ventured was the Flatiron District. Nolcha’s Chief of Executive Operations, Kerry Bannigan, said she was pleasantly surprised at how energetic Lower Manhattan was.

“What I like about it is that my business was founded on helping the edgy and trendy,” said Bannigan.

The idea to hold Nolcha Fashion Week downtown grew out of previous discussions between Nolcha and the Downtown Alliance. The two organizations had been talking about creating pop-up stores – small-scale, often temporary, retail spaces – for some of the designers Nolcha represents.

“A lot of designers don’t have their clothes in stores yet but this is a great way to put them out there and for the shopper to see what they have,” said Jennifer Mitikan, the director of retail operations at the Downtown Alliance. “This is a really creative way to showcase the designers in a space that’s sitting vacant. Especially during the holidays, it works out for everyone.”

Both Bannigan and Mitikan believe fashion has a future downtown. Citing the recent decision by Conde Nast to move into One World Trade Center, Bannigan said, “It’s kind of nice to be ahead of that trend, especially in New York. The creative minds mixing with the financial – I think that’s really interesting.”

Mitikan said, “We feel that downtown remains a financial hub but is quickly becoming more cutting-edge, with creative minds. It could be really interesting to bring that fashion component to Wall Street.”

She added, “From the success that Nolcha had at 195 Broadway, we are confident that we will be doing something with them again.”