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The Magic City Fashion Week is back and right around the corner, founders Daniel Grier & Derek DeAndre spoke with SHEEN about this momentous occasion. The duo feels that this event would be an ideal time to take advantage of the crowd and make them aware of the fashion Birmingham has to offer while bringing awareness to HIV/AIDS and end the stigma behind talking about it and knowing your status. The founders discussed the conception of Magic City Fashion Week, it’s future, the events to come, and how Sheen Magazine Fashion Innovators award recipient, Ty Hunter and Raquel Smith will be involved.

This is the first ever Magic City Fashion Week. When did you decide you wanted to do this and what made you decide to create this event?

Grier: For me, we had just had our biggest platform which is Nashville Fashion Week, presented April the 5, in Nashville, and it was just a phenomenal experience. And we just wanted to bring that back to Birmingham because at the time we didn’t have another fashion week, they had said they weren’t coming back. So we just wanted to bring that to Birmingham. We wanted to build model networks, designer networks, bloggers, and just create all of these fashion communities. 

DeAndre: We got an overwhelmingly positive response from what we presented in Nashville and we couldn’t forget how they made us feel as designers. We for the first time felt how we needed to feel when we’re presenting the work that we’ve worked on so hard for however long. We wanted to bring that back to Birmingham and provide the designers here who don’t necessarily have that platform, they may have the talent, but they may not know how to present it or they just don’t have the stage to present it on in a proper way.

We really wanted to tie in HIV awareness because that’s a major epidemic that’s currently affecting our city. We’ve always used our art and our fashion as a way to convey messages. I’m not sure if your completely familiar with Magic City Classic but that is the largest city-sponsored event in Birmingham and we just wanted to take advantage of that and put our message out and provide that platform at the same time.”

What does it mean to you to be able to bring together the things you care about such as AIDS & HIV awareness, fashion, and community outreach to your city?

Grier: I actually work in that field, every day I’m seeing a lot of the resources that are available and then I see the amount of people who know about them, which is not, in our demographic, where it needs to be. Then you see the numbers of HIV in Jefferson County, which is where we live, the numbers are just outrageous. It’s very disproportionate compared to other races. I think our goal pretty much is to make it a regular conversation. People are so afraid to mention that, or they see someone go into a clinic and they’re calling everyone like “Oh this person must have this” but maybe they’re just concerned with their health and they want to know their status because be it can positive or negative. You can live on and have a normal life but you need to know what your status is first. Our schools don’t even teach that, they don’t let you come in and talk about sex in that capacity like HIV. The CDC projects that black men will be one in two to be infected with HIV by the time we die. That’s scary, that scares me, and I have an 8-year-old son.

I think we’re both big subscribers of making the next right move for ourselves personally and business-wise so combining awareness and giving back to the community. We refer to Nashville a lot, but we really learned and picked up a lot from them. One of the founders said in an interview that if you’re going to have your hand out in the community, you better be ready to give back to the community and it really resonated with the both of us.

Can you give us a bit more details about what that event is and what other events we can look forward to for Magic City Fashion Week?”

Grier: We’ll be celebrating 4 years of Splashed by DKG being in existence, being in business. Last year we came up with the term Splashiversary and we only presented ourselves at that time so this time we decided to do a competition where we invite other designers to compete and we would headline and close the show out. The competition portion is what Ty and Raquel will be hosting. We have five designers of color that will be presenting. I wanted people from here, since, you’re always told that you should move to Atlanta, New York, or California to make it. I want people here to hear the things that they have to say. If you’re willing to work hard and you know this is what God put you here for then go for it.

What do you see for the future of Magic City Fashion Week or, how do you hope it will impact the city and it’s residents?

Grier: My hopes were that HIV will become something that we all can do when dealing with someone we openly ask, “Do you know your status?” so let’s go get tested together. Also for the fashion community here, it’s really hard to get press here for doing positive things. I hope we change that.

DeAndre: I want to make it easier for myself and other people to go to corporations and those corporations see the value in art and fashion. We’ve had an extremely difficult time this first year getting that financial backing. I just want to make this career path easier to go into. I have a 12-year-old cousin who is interested in fashion and she was in her study hall class and her teacher told her to put her sketches away because that was not a real career. I want to get rid of attitudes like that and have people really see art as a way of positively affecting the world and also as a way where you can have a real career and real business.

You can get tested at the Splashiversary event on Friday night. If you come into the Birmingham AIDS Outreach Center before October the 27th you will receive $10 off your Splashiversary ticket!

Be sure to check out Magic City Fashion Week’s website for more information, as well as Instagram,Facebook.

Don’t forget about Splashiversary as well: Instagram, Facebook.

All images provided by Magic City Fashion Week