Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum Kicks Off EMERGE: the State’s First Designer in Residency Program

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Inaugural designer in residence, Bruce Davis, will be working with the community to stimulate Northwest Arkansas talent through collaboration and mentorship from industry experts.

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“As an organization we have seen so much rapid change and growth over the past two years in the areas of art and cultural experiences here in Northwest Arkansas. Launching this program was the natural next step for our community.” - CEO & Founder of AAFF, Robin Wallis Atkinson.

This fall marks the inaugural Designer in Residency program EMERGE, presented by Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum, with a mission to identify, incubate, and promote new fashion talent in Arkansas. Aspiring avant-garde fashion designers, artists, and other creative professionals in Arkansas will now have the chance to access education and professional development through the immersive EMERGE program. By bringing together emerging regional fashion talent and leading industry experts from around the country, AAFF hopes to grow local talent, foster greater levels of creative production, and contribute invaluable industry knowledge to the community.

Industry experts in the fields of fashion, sustainability, manufacturing, and creative design bring experience from top fashion houses such as Milly, Draper James, Ralph Lauren, DVF, JCrew, and ALICE + OLIVIA. Experts will curate workshops and mentor one chosen designer in residence, Bruce Davis, along with 10 Arkansas-based designers referred to as the Designer Cohort.

Bruce Davis hails from Chicago, Illinois and founded his brand 22nd Element with a mission to create a fresh perspective on the future of apparel he describes as “ready-to-wear with a mixture of both edge and class. The clothes that I make are genderless and inclusive. I take pride in knowing that I engineered clothes based on embracing individuality.” Bruce believes that fashion should always go beyond turning heads and that it is about manifesting your true self.

This initiative has been made possible by a generous grant that will fund two seasons of the program in its entirety. Along with the workshops, collaborations, and discussions with industry experts, designers will receive the resources needed to produce an inspired collection during their participation in EMERGE. “As an organization we have seen so much rapid change and growth over the past two years in the areas of art and cultural experiences here in Northwest Arkansas. Launching this program was the natural next step for our community.” - CEO & Founder of AAFF, Robin Wallis Atkinson. Applications for the Spring EMERGE program are available at arkansasfashion.org, designers from across the country are encouraged to apply.

About AAFF:
Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum is a 501c3 Non-profit organization dedicated to educational programming and
creative support in the mission of fostering the growth of the fashion industry in Arkansas.

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Katie Marquess
Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum
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