The new fashion capital of the Midwest: A look at Chicago Fashion Week


A month after models strutted the New York Fashion Week runway, Chicago held its own collection of shows organized by FashionBar, a fashion business consulting firm that provides a platform to local, national and global designers and brands.

According to FashionBar, the mission of Chicago Fashion Week is to “transform Chicago into the fashion capital of the Midwest by advancing emerging and established talent.”

From October 10-17, designers unveiled a total of 27 collections across nine shows focused around different identities and styles, including the Bridal Show, Next Gen Show, Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Show, Trans Media Show, Ready-2-Wear Show, Swimwear Show, Urban & Streetwear Show, Modest Show and Eveningwear Show.

Chicago Fashion Week is a bi-annual event for designers from all walks of life to showcase their collections to a wider audience and to celebrate the city’s unique flavor.

“Chicago is trying to establish itself as a fashion destination,” said Kevin Ross, a partner of Chicago Fashion Week.

When compared to Los Angeles or New York City, Chicago may not stick out as a fashion town. Los Angeles is known for its plethora of modeling agencies and New York City for its iconic fashion brands. Nestled between the United State’s two fashion capitals, Chicago is breaking out and forging its own identity within the fashion world. Chicago Fashion Week is an opportunity for the city to lean into its uniqueness and highlight diverse talent, FashionBar CEO Tony Long said.

“Diversity, inclusion, culture — that’s what makes Chicago great,” Long said.

Long took those values and put them at the core of the shows at Chicago Fashion Week, centering each runway show around an identity or style, rather than a specific designer or collection.

At the Modest Show, designers displayed their collections featuring hijabs, burkas and other traditional Muslim garments. At the Trans Media Show, transgender and gender-nonconforming models took center stage. At the Ready-2-Wear show, designers presented collections inspired by modern tastes.

The overall theme of Chicago Fashion Week was “Health is Wealth,” placing emphasis on wellbeing and self care. In addition to the runway shows, FashionBar presented “The Marketplace,” a group of 15 vendors selling garments, accessories and wellness products.

“Wellness is the foundation of everything you do in life,” Long said.

Chicago Fashion Week powered by FashionBar will return this spring, to prove Chicago’s potential as yet another fashion capital filled with new designers, collections and styles.