Oneofakind Baton Rouge Fashion Week Embraces Diversity in Baton Rouge

Oneofakind Baton Rouge Fashion Week (OBRFW) encourages diversity within the city of Baton Rouge and surrounding areas, which is a major goal of executive producer and founder Brandon D. Campbell; his vision of exemplifying and honoring diversity has become a reality. OBRFW continues to attract and highlight various forms of fashion; individuals in front of the cameras; behind the scenes and attendees, regardless of race, social economic background, gender, age or education.

“Diversity goes beyond skin color. It’s about what different groups of people with diverse minds contribute to one another while sharing experiences,” says a passionate Campbell “With [Oneofakind] Baton Rouge Fashion Week, we’re bringing people together who are from areas such as Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, northern Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. They meet up in Baton Rouge and the city becomes its own melting pot. During fashion week, you have a group of people that network and get educated about one another. It makes for a great experience!”

Campbell also enjoys working with different people, which brings about different mindsets. These type of interaction with people inspires him more, creatively, Campbell said. As it pertains to diversity, he credits his observations during his stays in New York and Los Angeles for his outlook and inspiration.

In 2009, Campbell began producing his brand of fashion weeks when he launched Little Rock Fashion Week in his hometown of Little Rock, Ark. Seven years later, his vision remains constant: To use quality produced and entertaining fashion shows that bring various groups of people together, enjoying the experience. From this vision, Campbell also wanted to commence something that would go beyond the norm, to embrace diversity – all races, ethnicities, sizes and shapes, everybody! From this vision he created an opportunity of fashion, that would allow children to participate. At the time, this aspect of highlighting children at fashion weeks were seldom, or never used in the fashion world.

Since its inaugural year in 2014, OBRFW has not only assisted individuals with embracing diversity and helping to build confidence, but also to assist others with achieving their dreams. This dream may have never been pushed if not for a fashion week that celebrates “difference.”

OBRFW’s objective is to give hope and ambition to designers and models who cannot financially afford to showcase their talents in industry specific exclusive fashion shows in major cities, such as International Management Group (IMG) owned Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week. In order for designers to showcase their clothing lines at such productions, it takes hundreds of thousands of dollars and oftentimes millions of dollars to successfully present. For those who are limited monetarily, OBRFW allows a similar affect to designers to gain publicity and connect with consumers for those who have big dreams in a small town.

Visit Baton Rouge enthusiastically assisted when Campbell presented the idea to host a fashion week in The Capital City.

“The people of Baton Rouge gave me the internal green light, that [showed] me Baton Rouge is the right place. They had open arms to receive it, a fashion week. Visit Baton Rouge and Capitol Park Museum believed in it and knew it went with their visions. Apart of the vision to establish my brand of fashion week in Baton Rouge was to be a part of a place where progress is happening. Influencing progression is a good thing,” said Campbell.

OBRFW assists the goals of Baton Rouge, as well as those who participate in this monumental affair.

Chenese Lewis, OBRFW 2015 Fashion Icon Award and 2014 OBRFW’s BIG Night host says, “I am always excited because it is [hosted] in an area that does not have a lot of fashion related events.”

As a resident of Baton Rouge, Lewis has witnessed various forms of diversity as she succeeded in numerous areas of her career. Lewis is a professional actor who worked in Hollywood for several years, before returning home to The Capitol City.

“I define diversity as a representation of all races, all sizes and all ages, just the scope of Baton Rouge together at one event,” she said “I think this is a wonderful addition to the Baton Rouge Community. It’s a positive event, and it really can be a launching pad for those who want to be in the fashion industry. Prior to this event, there really was not a vehicle for emerging designers, upcoming models or even future publishers in Baton Rouge. It has filled the void!”

OBRFW has previously showcased the talents of Johnathan Darden, balloon dress fashion designer. This is Darden’s second year being involved in OBRFW.

“It brings a lot of different people together. Not just physical attributes, but also different styles, completely different,” says Darden, of Shreveport, La.

Darden enjoys the different fabrics, which crochet textures is one of his favorites. As he continues to become prepared for the show, he is also excited to be a part of this event’s immense amounts of diversity. One of his favorite aspects include the participation of students from LSU, which helps to bring everyone together and shows community involvement.

Jace Hanemann, 11-year-old actor and a model, is a third year model participant in OBRFW and also excited about the upcoming extravaganza.

“It's so much fun! I love getting to go read to elementary kids as a model, being a role model to other kids and showing them you don't have to wait until your grown to pursue your dreams,” says Hanemann. “I love the Big Night show with all the lights, camera and action, the adrenaline rush I get is the best feeling ever.”

Jace and his mom Kristie look forward to being involved of the overall experience. As Jace has made friends each year of participating, he enjoys being able to showcase his talents, while also supporting great causes, such as the Louisiana Museum Foundation.

Kristie appreciates the value of togetherness that OBRFW brings to the Baton Rouge Community.

“Togetherness is often forgot about in all communities. Baton Rouge Fashion week brings different people together for a great time with three great shows. Whether you come see For Kids By Kids show, the Bare show or the Big Night show, you are sure to see great fashion by some great local fashion designers,” she says. “OBRFW shows people that all races, genders and sizes are welcomed to audition and be a part of such a great event.”

Baton Rouge hosts a fashion experience in the South that serves as more than just a fashion week, but also an avenue for those who want to pursue their goals in the fashion industry. With its immense compassion towards diversity, OBRFW urges all those in the city of Baton Rouge and surrounding areas to participate in this empowerment movement. Different energy sets a great atmosphere and brings a great experience for individuals who have never had the chance to experience something of that caliber. Different types of people are unified for one common purpose – fashion

“You don’t have to be in New York to experience [Fashion Week] on a grand scale,” said Campbell. “It’s here in the city of Baton Rouge!”

The third annual OBRFW kicks off February 25 and goes through February 27. To see the full schedule or to buy tickets to OBRFW’s events visit www.batonrougefashionweek.com.

OBRFW 2016 sponsorship partners are Oneofakind Talent Inc., Capitol Park Museum, iME Clothing, LSU Museum of Art, Beading by Treva B, 12 KolleCtions Jewelry, LEGACY Magazine, FashionUnited, Foster the Fashion, Carpooling in Stilettos, Belle Baton Rouge Casino & Hotel, Crowne Plaza and Visit Baton Rouge.

To see the full schedule visit BatonRougeFashionWeek.com.

Text: Marquia Whitehead