The provisional Pittsburgh chapter of Fashion Group International held its monthly meeting Thursday evening at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Downtown.
Since the city is at the peak of summer vacation season, the turnout was only about 24 people, the lowest since FGI Pittsburgh started gathering. Stephanie Taylor, the chairwoman of the board, indicated that it's an aberration and noted that she is happy so far with how the chapter has been shaping up. The New York headquarters of FGI, which is tracking the Pittsburgh group's performance and will decide on its permanent standing, has been surprised at how engaged and active the Pittsburgh chapter has been, Ms. Taylor said.
She is hoping that the chapter will gain its permanent status by the end of the year.
"Everyone says there is no fashion in Pittsburgh, we have to prove them wrong," she said.
The agenda for the meeting included a discussion of membership and the formation of the aspiring fashion professionals committees, which will include fashion students and youth interested in fashion. The board emphasized the importance of attracting younger generations to help insure the Pittsburgh chapter's sustainability.
Vanessa Fellers, head of the programming committee, talked about plans to hold an event at the Heinz History Center in September, when the recently-closed Emphatics boutique, which for decades was a hub for high-end fashion in Pittsburgh, will exhibit its archival collection. She also hinted that FGI Pittsburgh might organize a mixer in September in its efforts to introduce itself to a wider audience across the city.
The board also talked about Style Week Pittsburgh as an opportunity for FGI Pittsburgh to connect with the fashion scene and recruit new members. Style Week will be August 11-17 at various venues throughout Pittsburgh. Style Week Pittsburgh founder Wadria Taylor is a member of the FGI Pittsburgh board.
Thirty minutes into the meeting, the board members and attendees broke into three committees to devise new ideas and advance future plans in programming, social media outreach/public relations and membership. The participants voiced an interest in having FGI Pittsburgh orchestrate events that are more neighborhood-oriented and invite speakers that represent fashion microcosms of Shadyside, Lawrenceville, East Liberty and other parts of Pittsburgh. Some members said they would like the group to have professional seminars and panel discussions on marketing trends, best practices in growing small business, blogging, etc.
Some more ideas: How about doing video blogs? Or featuring the "impeccably dressed" from various parties in Pittsburgh? What about engaging with the blogging community? Maybe doing interviews with Pittsburgh designers and "heavy hitters" and have a mentorship program for younger groups seeking careers in fashion?
The last part of the meeting featured a "fashion speed round," where attendees had an opportunity to introduce themselves and talk about fashion events in their communities, special promotions and/or their work.
Photos: Above, FGI Pittsburgh board members address attendees. Below, board member Vanessa Fellers (standing) leads a discussion group. Mila Sanina/Post-Gazette