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Springfield Fashion Week: Cosmic Cycles

Success Story

Driven by a clear vision, community feedback, and local designers' talents, the Springfield TDI District transformed from an often passed-by area to the Cosmic Cycles Fashion Show during Springfield Fashion Week – which hosted several events across the city from August 1-5, 2023. Springfield Fashion Week originated from an idea by Joron Stimage-Norwood, a winner of the "For the Love of Springfield” grant from the Springfield Creative Cities Collective (SCCC), Springfield’s TDI Creative Cities cohort. This vision was further developed by a committee formed by the SCCC and Joshua Croke, the Springfield TDI Fellow. Comprising Springfield-based artists and entrepreneurs, the committee aimed to boost the creative economy in the Pioneer Valley.

Joron Stimage-Norwood's fashion week concept served as a platform for Springfield designers to display their talent and highlight a burgeoning industry for which Springfield is rarely recognized. With the guidance of TDI Fellow Joshua Croke, the planning committee unified stakeholders from the neighborhood and across the state, including Team Better Block, placemaking experts from Texas. The idea of holding the Cosmic Cycles Fashion Show within the TDI District in Springfield’s Mason Square evolved through cooperative discussions with the region's artists, creatives, and organizers.

Drawing inspiration from Mason Square native Ruth Carter, the two-time Academy Award-winning costume designer for the Black Panther films, the Cosmic Cycles Fashion Show successfully transformed a local laundromat into a cutting-edge runway. The activities spilled into the streets, illustrating the potential of street activations to uplift local businesses. Ben Swan Way, often used as a pass-through by drivers, was repurposed for this collaborative event. To promote community engagement, neighboring businesses received stipends to extend their operating hours. The Final Touch Barber Shop offered complimentary haircuts and Soul Revivin’ Juice Truck provided refreshing local juices.

To help provide proof of concept for local businesses, a local fashion designer retail pop-up named “PROVEN” was set up for nine days in a nearby vacant storefront. The brainchild of SCCC member Jennifer Godin, this initiative was conceptualized to help budding designers demonstrate the marketability of their creations before approaching larger retailers. Team Better Block, brought on by TDI Technical Assistance, supported the transformation of the pop-up by enabling the construction improvements needed for activation, enhancing the district's visual appeal with semi-permanent murals crafted by Common Wealth Murals, and coordinating other aesthetic improvements and logistics leading up to the celebration.

The Cosmic Cycles Fashion Show – attended by over 200 guests in addition to the 75-plus designers, models, performers, and host committee members – highlighted local talent and the community's ability to work together. The success of Springfield Fashion Week was significantly amplified through collaborative efforts with partners such as Make-It Springfield, who facilitated enriching workshops, and other planned activities including the "Manifest Your Most Epic Life" workshop held at the PROVEN pop-up. TDI's emphasis on community-centered economic growth was evident, emphasizing the significance of community engagement and tangible placemaking.

The Cosmic Cycles Fashion Show, a singular yet monumental event, displayed the power of collaboration and vision rooted deeply in equity and community revitalization. By championing local businesses and amplifying the district's visibility, it reinvigorated storefronts and propelled transformative placemaking, rendering vacant spaces inviting to potential long-term tenants and signifying opportunities and growth in the TDI District. The Cosmic Cycles Fashion Show and Springfield Fashion Week exemplify that when community initiatives are empowered with the right support, they can transform local spaces, fortify economies, and uplift the collective spirit, all while upholding equity-centered values and practices.