WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Uptown Fashion Week helped put northern Manhattan on the map as a destination for designers and style-savvy audiences — and now the event is expanding to appeal to fashion lovers of every age and shape.
“I decided to add plus-size [designs] because I think we shouldn’t limit fashion,” said Albania Rosario, founder and executive producer of the event that is now in its fourth year.
“Fashion is for everyone of every size.”
For the first time, the event will offer showcases for teen and plus-sized fashions, in addition to its signature runway show highlighting established and emerging designers.
Rosario started the event in order to build a bridge from the downtown fashion world to uptown, as well as put a focus on burgeoning tastemakers, many of whom are from the Hispanic community.
“We have designers from all over Latin America,” she said. “They have the talent. They have great pieces, but they don’t have the monetary resources to participate in Fashion Week downtown. We give them a platform.”
Designers pay between $1,500 and $2,500 to participate in Uptown Fashion Week, while a show at Lincoln Center can cost tens of thousands of dollars, Rosario explained.
Dominican-born designer Edwardo Rosario, 36, has participated in Uptown Fashion Week for the past two years. This year his mod-themed spring line will have it’s own showcase, which Rosario said would be too costly downtown.
“It can cost $10,000 to $15,000 for 15 minutes [at New York Fashion Week],” he said. “Uptown Fashion Week has given us an opportunity to present our work in the Latin community that we could not afford otherwise.”
The three-day event kicks off on Wednesday with the Spring 2015 collection of Dominican-born design partners Victor Lopez and Eduardo Rosario.
On Thursday, there will be a runway show featuring 14 designers from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru. Then, on Friday, the event will close out with a showcase featuring plus-size and teen fashions.
Rosario has also looked at some new venues this year to put the focus on uptown destinations. While the runway show will again be held at the United Palace Theater, the showcases will take place at Maranello, a new Italian restaurant and lounge in Inwood, and the recently renovated Lake House at the Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course.
“[New York Fashion Week] brings an economic impact to New York, but all of that was happening downtown,” she said. “That’s part of the reason we decided to bring it uptown. We want to draw attention to our new businesses.”
Even more important, Rosario added, is putting the emphasis on local designers, such as Edwing D’Angelo.
D’Angelo, 35, grew up near 147th Street in Harlem and still lives a few blocks from there. Although he has worked as a designer for 12 years, this is his first time participating in Uptown Fashion Week, where he will show off his Moroccan-inspired collection for Spring 2015.
He said it is exciting to have a platform in his own community to feature his fashions.
“I live here. I work here. I’m part of this community,” he said. “It’s proof that uptown breeds talent.”