In 2009, a group of volunteers, including celebrity Clearwater resident Craig Taylor, banded together to stimulate the economy of Downtown Clearwater in a grass roots movement called Clearwater Fashion Week. A year-and-a-half later, the event will be repeated and expanded on, but how effective were the group’s efforts?
On February 3rd – 6th, the Clearwater Designer Co-Op, a group of dedicated volunteers committed to improving the economy of Downtown Clearwater through artistic events, will expand upon Clearwater Fashion Week, their inaugural event, in a four-day celebration of culture known as Fashion and Arts Week.
Clearwater Fashion Week began as an attempt to revitalize the Cleveland Street District by showing retailers that having a store in Downtown Clearwater could be both possible and profitable by holding a designer sample sale in an empty store front of Station Square.
Clearwater Fashion Week was spearheaded by fashion designer and Clearwater resident Craig Taylor, who had the desire to see Clearwater grow into the next Naples or Sarasota. Taylor has been involved in the renaissance of other communities which have now gone on to become quite fashionable, including SoHo in New York City, Downtown Los Angeles, and South Beach in Miami.
1,000 people attended last year’s event, including fashionistas from Miami and Orlando trekking out to take advantage of the deeply discounted prices on Rebecca Minkoff handbags, Whitley Kros dresses and Craig Taylor blouses. A total of $41,000 was spent. A portion of proceeds benefitted Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Junior League. Since the event, Fashion Week volunteer Paula Cadman opened up the Blue Dahlia on Cleveland Street – which was named “Best Hidden Treasure Boutique” in Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay.
The City of Clearwater recently requested the Clearwater Designer Co-Op repeat the event in 2011. The dedication of the Clearwater Designer Co-Op indicates that the residents of the community care about the condition of their community.
“Because there are so many talented people in this area, we didn’t want to limit it to just fashion,” said Laura Clouden of the Clearwater Designer Co-Op. This year’s event will include dance, contortionists, musicians, plain air art, and film. Taylor will be hosting another sample sale this year. This year’s beneficiaries will be Bless the Child and 10,000 Villages.