City Councilwoman Carlen Peterson expressed her excitement at seeing an event like this downtown, and seeing her efforts to revitalize the district paying off. I agree with her sentiments. There is so much potential and talent in Downtown Clearwater, and it was great to see it come together in a production of this caliber. It was something to rival New York or LA, the better for its characteristic Clearwater openness and hospitality.
Clearwater Fashion Week was conceived when designer and Clearwater resident Craig Taylor, renowned for his beautiful women’s shirts, was approached about opening a boutique downtown. Craig sells his shirts through high end stores like Neimen Marcus, so a boutique wouldn’t really fit with his investors.
However, acknowledging a vested interest in having a successful Clearwater, he called a few of his friends to throw a sample sale. His friends included designers like Angela Gioffre and Rebecca Minkoff, who have ties to Clearwater, Whitley Kros, Thomas DeVette, SPH Jewelry, Monique Fletcher of Gypsies and Lords, and Wren. Over $10,000 in sales were tallied in just the first three days, indicating that Downtown Clearwater needs and wants fashion, and that a boutique could flourish here.
The sample sales also raised funds for local charities, with 10% of opening night sales benefiting Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Educational Programs, and 10% of Saturday’s sales benefiting the Junior Leagues of Clearwater/ Dunedin, Tampa and St. Petersburg, funding junior league projects.
The event even spilled outdoors, with vendors and entertainment in Station Square Park. Patrons and passers-by were treated to the music of local bands like Honkabilly Blues and Autumn City, and spotlight performances by members of Got Jokes?, Tampa Bay’s hottest improv group.
The fabulous event was made possible through the hard work of the Clearwater Designer Co-Op, in partnership with the Clearwater Downtown Development Board. The Co-Op is a group of professionals and volunteers, united with the purpose of helping the City promote the Cleveland Street District by spotlighting it with a week-long series of fashion events and a high-end designer sample sale. In short, they want to bring boutiques and shopping downtown, making Clearwater a fashionable weekend destination; or as Craig Taylor put it, “the next Naples or Sarasota.”