Fashioning local treasures
They are renegades.
Rejecting conventional ways of thinking, they stand strong with scissors in hand, ready for battle against big-box stores and factories with a goal of bringing local and exciting fashion and accessories to others. Currently, they are gearing up for their fourth annual alternative fashion show, called Runway Renegades. Scheduled for Aug. 13, the event will highlight six local clothing designers, three accessory designers, hair and make-up artists and models.
“There’s a lot of creativity right here in our community,” said Ronnie Ryno, creator of the event. “A few years from now, we are hoping to have a fashion week in the Lilac City, a city that really does have a lot going for it.”
Ryno recently resigned from teaching (13 years in special education) to dedicate herself to fashion full time. A couple of months ago, she opened the doors to her store Glamarita at 901 W. Garland Ave. The shop carries only local designs, nothing outsourced or mass-produced, and the majority of designers use recycled or vintage materials in their creations. “It’s sustainable, ethical and earth-friendly fashion,” she said.
In the show, Ryno will be unveiling her military-inspired collection. “I really like feminizing hard and masculine fabric,” she said. Other designers include Gianna Morill, who specializes in steam punk; Estee Wilson, retro-disco inspired; Rachel Mace, who takes sustainability to a whole new level with lovely gowns made of “trash”; Kadra Evans, who is inspired by pop culture; and Kirsten Longly, an award-winning designer who “revamps” vintage formal wear into gowns worthy of a double-take.
Accessory designers include Mary Tafuri, Alyssah Perez and Summer Hightower. “I’ve been breathing new life into old parts, hunting and harvesting at local thrift stores, and dipping into my lifelong collection of found pieces, combining vintage metal with exotic leathers, brass and chain,” Tafuri said. “My goal is to create wearable art that is modern and relevant. Harvesting pieces from the past is a tribute to ‘The Story of Stuff,’ a view of consumerist society, by Anne Leonard. People tend to replace the old with the new, even when the old still has beautiful function and form.”
Walking into Glamarita, one’s jaw drops. Like a kid in a toy store, you just have to touch and scream, “I want it!” There are hand-painted shoes, a headband with a large beaded flower that curves to the shape of your head like it grew there, handbags, jewelry and one-of-a-kind apparel. They are works of art, lovingly made by artists who take into account the different shapes and sizes of their community while introducing alternatives to big-box stores and factories.
When you look at Runway Renegades’ website and view the images, it might cross your mind that you’re “not in Spokane anymore” – but you are; there are many creative and motivated people here, and they’re ready to strut their stuff on the runway. In an often “cookie-cutter” society, Ryno said, “It’s important to be unique.”