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Crystal Bridges hosts fashion symposium spotlighting inclusivity

The collaborative exhibition brought together top fashion insiders including Tommy Hilfiger, Tracy Reese, Aurora James, Vice President of Nike Tania Flynn and more.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art hosted its first-ever fashion symposium, "Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour" on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

The exhibition curator says its purpose is to rewrite fashion in an inclusive way. The exhibit is doing this by bringing in designers from all walks of life to offer more diverse perspectives and share their untold stories.

Part of those perspectives includes under-recognized Black and indigenous designers that have largely been left out of the American fashion story.

“It's often somewhat difficult to incorporate because in the 19th century, it's really hard to find someone who’s considered an indigenous designer in that era. It was a century of persecution, however, moving into the 20th century you see that indigenous designers finally have a voice,” said Michele Finamore, the curator of Fashioning America.

Fashioning America is expanding representation by showing the work of contemporary artists and sharing their impact on culture throughout the decades.

“Contemporary designers make up a big part of the exhibition and there's a section called refashion in America which comes from contemporary designers," Finamore explained. "They are really thinking about clothing as communicating issues like social justice, sustainability, to rewriting Black history for example, and I think that those stories are hugely important.” 

The symposium also highlighted sustainable innovation and inclusive design which sought to amplify the voices of those who are often left out of fashion narratives.

Credit: 5NEWS

“It's important to me that what I do is inclusive and that it does celebrate diversity not just in the shade of your skin but also your body type and your age,” said Tracy Reese, founder and creative director of "Hope for Flowers."

One of the most well-known fashion designers, Tommy Hilfiger, spoke at the symposium about how the future of fashion involves inclusivity and the metaverse.

“I want to be able to sell a lot of clothes to a lot of people and make a difference in people’s lives with our adaptive collection. We design clothes for people with special needs, with leg braces and people who find it difficult to button buttons or get dressed in the morning because of their disability,” Hilfiger said.  

If you missed the symposium, it’ll be archived on the Crystal Bridges website.

The exhibit is open until January 30.

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