Heartland International Fashion Week celebrates culture, team efforts for third runway season

HIFW brings a fun, lively experience to fashion while showcasing international and local talent.

Heartland International Fashion Week completes its third season on the runway at the Firestone Event Space. Connecting with crowd members and their team, HIFW provides an opportunity to celebrate fashion and diversity. 

HIFW is a fairly new fashion show with an emphasis on bringing faith and fashion together. Their mission is to connect countries through fashion, and this season includes Ukrainian, African, and Mexican cultures while also featuring local designers. Though ‘fashion show’ has a black tie connotation, HIFW is a lively, celebratory experience. 

During the show, announcer Lauren Scott from KSHB called for volunteers from the crowd. Volunteers were selected to show off their best model walk and hype up the audience for the next set of designers. In honor of Tina Turner, more volunteers were asked to dance down the runway to Turner’s River Deep – Mountain High. The audience clapped and cheered for participants as they waited for the next designer’s collection to appear on the carpet. 

Model Christine Lorene has modeled and participated in fashion shows for 20+ years. Modeling in various lines this season, she walked for Ukrainian designers Potapenko & Yanchenko. After moving to Florida, she came to Kansas City to specifically walk in HIFW. She enjoys the values and experience HIFW has to offer. 

“I believe in what they represent with regard to the immersion of culture and faith in it,” says Lorene. “I wanted to support what they’re doing here, and I came halfway across the country to do it.”

Designer Princess Elliott Hopkins of Regal Status describes how she selects models of varying shapes, sizes, and colors so every young girl feels seen on the runway. Furthermore, she wants everyone to feel comfortable in her pieces. Elliott Hopkins asks models for feedback and if they would wear her pieces outside the runway. Inspired by CEO and founder of HIFW Bosede Iyewarun, teamwork is an important aspect of the show. 

“[Bosede is] so loving and supporting of her team. We can’t help but spread that to other people,” says Elliot Hopkins. 

Across the board, models described the HIFW as a family, and many members prayed in a group before walking the runway. Though models help designers display their art, model Michelle Thine wants to feel confident, too. She appreciates S. Nicole‘s designs and the connection of modeling for S. Nicole since the beginning of HIFW. 

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Kameron Bagsby wearing Rachel Hughes // courtesy Eric Miles

“She knows exactly what to put me to make me feel like a trillion dollars,” says Thine. “This experience at HIFW has always been heartwarming.”

HIFW highlights local designer talent starting from scratch. Crochet designer Rachel Hughes learned her craft from YouTube. During Hughes’ childhood, she had a passion for sketching designs, and now they have come to life with crocheting. It could take years for someone to crochet a single outfit, but the process takes a week for Hughes. 

“I have a full-time job, two kids, a husband, so I pick up my hook and yarn in the middle of the night and bright and early in the morning,” says Hughes. “Crochet is in the fashion industry, and we’re gonna be here for a long time.” 

HIFW also included vendors selling their work and displaying pieces on the runway. Owner of Style Therapii, Lynette Crawford majored in fashion design at the Kansas City Art Institute and sold jewelry pieces at the show.

Other names on the runway include Uzuri Closet, Creative House by Jenn Robbins, Cherish the Furs, and more.

Stay updated for the next season of HIFW at their website here.

Categories: Culture