New Beginnings: Fashion Show at Foundry IRL
by Lauren Arzbaecher
Winter received a jolt of creativity at the New Beginnings Fashion Show on Friday, November 29th. Models strutted across the concrete runway inside Foundry IRL, a collaborative space for student entrepreneurs at Iowa River Landing in Coralville. The retail and event space opened earlier this year through a partnership with the UI Founders Club. Emboldening young business owners, Foundry IRL allows students the opportunity to share and sell their work within the community in a brick and mortar store.
Featured at the fall show were student-run brands ALMVGHTY, Kulture Vaccine, Elevated Supply Co., True Style, Wanderlust Wraps, and Vice Iowa City. Performances by local musicians along with pop-up shops for each brand rounded out the festivities.
Dondre Smith, the designer behind ALMVGHTY, emceed for the night. He started with acknowledgements and described his initial impressions of Iowa City’s trends. “When I first came to Iowa City, the fashion scene was dead.” Let’s face it, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Iowa is certainly not fashion. Corn, most likely. But young artists like those featured in the show are bound to change that.
“We all have a purpose. In order to find that purpose you have to do what you love,” Smith continued. There certainly was a lot of love on the runway. Passion practically oozed out of the fabrics. Friends and fans of the artists and models filling out the audience, each look was supported with cheers of excitement.
Vice kicked it off with a shout-out to all the sneakerheads in the audience. Started by Tony Casella, Peter Krogull and Demetrius Perry, Vice is a consignment store that centers around streetwear and sneakers from higher end brands that otherwise aren’t available in Iowa City. Texture played a large role in Vice’s presentation, with layered looks comprised of denim, flannel and athleisure fabrics. The brightness of the athletic clothing provided joyful pops of color to the casual style. Vice typically buys/sells used or vintage clothing, yet the innovation shown by their collection hopefully leads to additional customized pieces.
Elevated Supply Co. appeared next on the scene with strong graphics. Designed and founded by Zach Frisbie, the brand creates original urban streetwear that blends together hip hop and skater culture. With clean lines and simple silhouettes, the focus was on graphic elements. Checked patterns accented the chiefly black and white color palette alongside text-centric logos. “Elevated” adorned may of the looks, black denim jackets with the brand name in along the back in contrasting embroidery the standout.
Walking over to the Elevated pop-up shop, I was greeted by a pair of aliens, psychedelic skulls, and embroidered Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti. A wide range of colors and graphics spanned across sweatshirts, tees, and baseball hats. Unique iconography gives Elevated Supply Co. its unparalleled edge, injecting rarity into casual style.
Emcee Dondre Smith returned to speak about life as young designers and introduce his own brand, ALMVGHTY. Inspired by community elevation and focused on fit and comfort, ALMVGHTY provides well-made streetwear with an air of high fashion. The collection had strong cohesion, emphasizing the brand’s name and alternate logo of two interlocking V’s on hoodies, shirts, and dresses. Detailed embroidery dripped down the front and back of several pieces with intense levels of intricacy. Smith also exhibited more experimental looks including a suede coat and a flowing poncho dress that moved beautifully down the runway. The clear voice behind ALMVGHTY shows immense promise for its growth as a fashion line and cultural movement.
“American Woman” blasting through the speakers, True Style burst onto the runway next. A boutique with locations in the Iowa River Landing and Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines, True Style sells bohemian-chic clothing from brands like BB Dakota, POL, Free People, and more. Female empowerment sung from their models, moving confidently to the beat of the rock ’n roll music in floral and multicolor patterns. Neutral colors arrived in chunky outer layers fitting for the colder season. True Style showcased femininity for all different types of women, their clothes a way to stand out while feeling comfortable in your own skin.
Finishing off the night was the unapologetic brand Kulture Vaccine. “Kulture Vaccine is inspired by punk rock and gothic architecture,” Founder and Designer Caroline Edmunds-Diez explained when introducing her collection. The lights went to black as Edmunds-Diez exited, and out came a model toting a black lace umbrella adorned with purple string lights. We sat in awe of the display for an extended moment before the lights came up to reveal the full look. In true gothic style, the collection was mainly black and included lots of lace detailing. Yet Kulture Vaccine has a more rebellious side.
Models sported mohawks, handmade bandanas, dramatic purple and blue makeup, and donned various pieces with writing scrawled onto the fabric with such phrases as “Anarchy, What’s Next?” and “I’m Screwed Up in My Own Special Way.” The exhibition was full of dramatic moments, with an extravagant white wedding dress and a final outfit with a train the length of the runway. The carefree attitude of the models and clothing shaped an atmosphere of freedom that was easy to get swept up in. Kulture Vaccine has a radical point of view that is certain to bring others to their infectious world of rebellion.
Foundry IRL is a space of collaboration, acceptance, and support. The runway show was just one sampling of a community ready to spread their creativity across the nation. Helping young artists to grow their brand and share work illustrates the extraordinary possibilities when you let creativity run rampant.