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Chic Style: Cut from a Different Cloth


In the cutthroat world of fashion, hard feelings and fierce rejection tend to be common and expected by those seeking to infiltrate this segment of culture. Brave designers and models subject themselves to intense scrutiny that could very quickly make – or just as easily break – them in the industry. While some may consider these to be unavoidable occupational hazards, Columbus is home to a unique non-profit that challenges this status quo. Alternative Fashion Mob (AFM) has a genuine philanthropic heartbeat that discards the fashion elitist mentality, choosing to go beneath the skin and pull out the beauty that lies within.

As the brainchild of Project Runway star Kelly Martin, AFM was birthed from a desire to bring together creative individuals from all walks of life and allow them to freely express themselves through their various interpretations of fashion. By partnering with dedicated and talented colleagues – beauty expert Jefferey Steele, marketing and event guru Amee BellWanzo and artist and educator Rachel Murdock – Martin crafted a fashion dream team to help drive this organization forward. Woven together by their shared passion, this group set out to make fashion accessible to the community at large. After pooling contacts and acquiring donations, an initial art auction held in the fall of 2012 raised enough funds to begin making this dream a reality.

These professionals weren’t interested in simply replicating what the city already offered; instead, their aim was to bring something completely new and different – the culmination of this vision was Alternative Fashion Week. The week boasts a variety of events that truly represent the versatility of fashion: for those who prefer cooking utensils to a pad and pencil, the Little Black Dress Brunch gives local chefs the creativity to design dishes that tell the story of accompanying attire; and music and fashion collide as local bands collaborate with fashion photographers to display their distinct styles. These creative events quickly build excitement for the crowning touch of this unconventional week: the Grand Finale Runway Show.

This unparalleled, uninhibited extravaganza is unique in that it welcomes any and all to take part in the show. Both amateur and accomplished designers are invited to create fashion according to their own individual interpretations. Whether that translates to couture, ready to wear, or a line made completely of synthetic hair is completely up to the designer’s discretion. Taking it a step further, models of all ages (14 and older) and sizes are welcome to participate with no stipulations and no judgment; last year’s show boasted an array of models ages 14 – 60 and sizes 00 – 28, a phenomenon that is unheard of in the more conventional fashion arena. Suffice it to say, audience members will not only remain thoroughly engaged through each segment of this exhibition but will also feel empowered by the array of acceptance and diversity displayed in every aspect of this spectacular fashion show.

Only two years have passed since its inception but AFM is already aiming to leave an unorthodox footprint in the Central Ohio community. True to the desire of its founders, this organization has become a metaphorical safe haven while simultaneously creating a literal safe haven for Columbus’ up and coming fashion mavens. Currently in its development stage, FABRIC Columbus Design Resource Center has the potential to become a hub for amateurs to develop technical skills from sewing to pin-up styling, with other offerings sprinkled in. These classes will enable novices to become equipped with the tools needed to excel and succeed in this industry. The movement of Alternative Fashion Mob goes beyond the superficial façade of fashion and creates a culture where everyone is given opportunity – a chance to simply dabble, or fully immerse themselves, in a world that many previously deemed inaccessible. American musician Thurston Moore once said, “Every now and again, the alternative culture is cherished by the mainstream for what it is, rather than how it should be….” The same can be said for Alternative Fashion Mob – an organization that cannot be judged based on how onlookers believe it should be, but one that deserves praise simply for what it is.


Visit Alternative Fashion Mob’s website for more information on the upcoming Fashion Week, April 18-25.