Up & Coming Designers Shine at Memphis Fashion Week

Emerging Memphis Designer Project Brings Dreams to Life

Budding fashion designers are gearing up for the most fashionable event of the year, Memphis Fashion Week, held May 12-13, 2023. The Emerging Memphis Designer Project (EMDP), created by Memphis Fashion Week and financially supported by Arrow Creative, ensures new designers’ ideas make it from the sketchpad to the runway.

The Emerging Memphis Designer Project was built out of a need in the Memphis community for local emerging designers to present their pieces to a wider audience. Memphis Fashion Week and EMDP liaison Sonin Myatt (fashion design professor at UofM and professional designer) and her team, works with selected designers through a five month process to educate and promote local designs. At the end of the process Memphis Fashion Week hopes to see the designers grow their skills, promote their businesses and enhance the design industry in Memphis.

This winter a call was issued for sketches. Designers must present new designs for Spring/Summer and should have sales less than $50,000/year as a fashion designer. Selected designers have approximately six months to make their designs runway-ready by selecting fabrics, creating patterns, sewing their pieces, and fitting models. Finally, they present designs on the runway with professional models, hair, and makeup. EMDP showcases Teen Collections, Single Designs, Mini Collections and new this year, Avant Garde from more than 30 emerging Memphis designers. Collections are judged by local fashion insiders and winners receive a partial scholarship to Arrow Community Education classes, cash prizes and a membership to Arrow Creative.

These fresh fashions will be worn by professional models in a new concept of a pop up runway and cocktail party event. Held Saturday, May 13th at 5:30 p.m. at Arrow Creative in Midtown Memphis.

Above, moments from prior Memphis Fashion Weeks

Designers participating in the Emerging Memphis Designer Project include:

Teen Designer: Piper Jamerson

*Piper, age 16, has been attending sewing classes for the past 6 years. She says, “I admired all the work [of MFW] and really wanted to do it. My teacher told me everything I needed to know about fashion week and I was so excited to get started.”

Singles Designers: Ashlyn Davis, Lauren Denton, Kristy Fleming, Lola Johnson, Ivy Rose, Jayla Slater, Moudester Tigue

*Ashlyn Davis is a sophomore fashion design student at the University of Memphis. She says, “I had a budding interest in fashion & modeling for years growing up. I’ve learned about EMDP from fellow classmates and my professors over the years, and now I am ready to take my chance. I look towards EMDP as an opportunity to develop as a designer on a professional scale.”

Mini Collection Designers: Marci Austin, Renata Bayazitova, Kelsey Hankins, Devario Looney, E’riel Seaberry, Trakeia Williams, Mia Williamson

*Devario Looney’s garment was chosen as the cover of The Edit Summer 2023. His line Saint Plus can be purchased online. Looney has a bachelors in graphic design and participated in the EMDP program in 2019.

Avant Garde Designers: Saratou Kane and Gabriel Rye

*Gabriel Rye grew up wanting to be a fashion designer, but it took a lot of twists and turn to land her at EMDP ‘23. Rye says, “I designed and made lingerie in middle school for girls in my school to embrace the awkward teens phases and even designed some dresses and we would have fashion shows in the locker rooms. From there I went to high school and took AP art to learn more about color and how to choose the best colors for my designs. However, lacking support, I went to college, got a degree in something I am not passionate about. After 3 years in the 9-5 corporate world, my life is lacking the passion and drive that designing clothes and bringing new ideas to life. I applied to [EMDP] as a way to finally showcase my designs, take a risk and go after what I have always wanted. I am doing this for myself and for an opportunity to finally chase my dreams in my city.”

These local designers will join the ranks of over a hundred past emerging designers over the past 11 years. Designers that participated in EMDP have gone on to create their own clothing lines (Saratou Kane’s children’s line Hanan Pretties), study fashion in college, and work for some top designers throughout the country (Kathryn Heard graduated from Auburn in the fashion program and now works with former MFW headlining designer Anne Barge Bridal).

Abby Phillips, Executive Director Arrow Creative, the parent organization of Memphis Fashion Week and creator of the EMDP says, “We are so proud of our Emerging designer’s success and have enjoyed watching them over the past 5 months bring their garments to life.”

Tickets are available on Eventbrite for the general public. To inquire about media access, please email Abby Phillips at aphillips@arrowcreative.org.

Schedule of Events: Event Details Link

Saturday May 6

Embroidered Pendant Class – Whitney Wiggs will teach you basic embroidery stitches and guide you in creating embroidered floral pendants, keychain, brooch or trinket. Great for beginners and anyone interested in embroidery.

Friday May 12

Fashion Night Out – Sip and shop for a cause from local fashion vendors at Arrow Creative. Shop from vintage clothing, jewelry, art & more, all in one location! Grab the girls and get ready for the most fashionable night of the year.

Saturday May 13

Emerging Designer Fashion & Cocktails – See the emerging designers present their garments on the runway and freeze models. This event is presented in a cocktail party setting with pop up runways shows on the hour.

Tuesday May 16

Fashion Week Bling Class – Students will have a choice of creating either a charm necklace or bracelet. Participants will select their charms, chain, clasp style, etc. and Mimi will guide you in learning how to design & assemble your custom piece.


Arrow Creative, a non-profit organization, makes art accessible to inspire the creative spirit in all Memphians. We are a premier source of creative entrepreneur enrichment, arts education, and art immersion for the entire community. We are an organization unique to our community, given that we bridge two audiences — creative entrepreneurs and consumers.

Arrow’s trajectory began in 2012, with the launch of Memphis Fashion Week to provide an outlet to showcase Memphis’ fashion design industry. Because of the need for greater support of the design industry, Memphis Fashion Design Network (MFDN) was established in 2016 to educate, cultivate and promote the local fashion entrepreneur. From this, Arrow co-founders, Abby Phillips and Dorothy Collier, spun a more comprehensive arts organization encompassing multiple creative mediums.

Arrow Creative formally took shape in 2017, through an initial interest in continuing the legacy of Memphis College of Art (MCA) community education programming. Arrow has purchased key equipment from ten MCA departments, including woodworking, ceramics, photography, illustration, painting, fashion design, sound lab, letterpress, paper-making and print-making, which provides us with the tools to offer similar programming. Arrow will continue to build upon the community education model from MCA, and will grow both offerings and clientele. Growth will continue to have a regional draw through our programming, which includes hobbyist classes, to weeklong master courses, to certificate programs that build workforce development for creative industries.

Memphis Fashion Week was founded in 2011 by former talent agent and Arrow cofounder Abby Phillips. Memphis Fashion Week was created to continue to cultivate and educate local designers and the local fashion industry. MFW, through the Memphis Fashion Fund, raised $30,000 for the Emerging Memphis Designer Project and Memphis College of Art fashion design classes. More than $50,000 has been put directly back into the fashion community.

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