Fashion for a Cause

Supporting local boutiques and events can make all the difference By Taylor Shillam

This season, cold-weather fashion gets bolder, brighter … and a little more meaningful.

While you shop winter trends like colorful knits, eye-catching puffer coats and standout prints, take note of where you’re investing your money and time. The Inland Northwest is full of high-quality boutiques that make it easy to access the latest trends close to home. And select local fashion shows doubling as fundraisers for worthy causes make it easy to learn just how impactful fashion can be.


In October, the Beyond Pink Designer Fashion Show & Auction was held at Spokane’s Davenport Grand Hotel. An annual event that supports women with the finances needed to receive their thermogram, the event was formed from a fierce dedication to encouraging the early detection of breast disease through thermography technology.


To date, Beyond Pink has raised over $1.2 million to provide grants to women in the local community. Their 2021 event was live streamed on October 9, allowing viewers to bid in a live auction as they watched from home. Bistango Martini Lounge offered in-home cocktail kits available for preorder for additional funding. More information about Beyond Pink’s mission and upcoming events can be found on their Facebook page and website at BeyondPink.net.


Coming this spring is the Arc of Spokane’s annual Rock the Runway fundraiser event, a highly anticipated fashion show that requires year-round preparation.


With the 2021 event postponed just weeks before it was scheduled to occur, the organization anxiously awaits the chance to gather again on May 12, 2022.


The Arc of Spokane itself is one of the leading service organizations for people with disabilities. Part of a larger national framework of nonprofit organizations under the Arc of the US, the Arc of Spokane is the largest chapter in the state, largely due to the geographical area it serves, encompassing Eastern Washington in addition to select northern and southern counties.


Rock the Runway showcases items shopped in the organization’s local thrift store. “It’s a fun way to both introduce people from the community and the individuals served, while promoting the thrift store,” said Director of Development Kelsey Bumgarner.


Rock the Runway is the Arc of Spokane’s major fundraiser event of the year. Its year-round preparations include gathering sponsors and auction items, marketing, and planning each logistical element. A volunteer advisory committee meets every two months at the start of the year, then more frequently as the event approaches. “It’s our most public-facing event. It’s a pretty major effort,” Bumgarner explained.


The Arc sends letters out as an open call for Rock the Runway models. “Most of the time, it ends up being people who are members of our community center or supportive living center,” Bumgarner explained. Members of the Young Adult Transition Program are sometimes included.


Organizing Rock the Runway requires the support of thrift store employees and a fashion show coordinator. The coordinator collects key details from models to form a selection of three to five outfit options matching their sizes, interests and personal style. “Because of the inventory turnover, she comes in multiple times prior to fittings to give models multiple options,” Bumgarner said, noting the daily turnover of clothing availability due to thrift store shopping.


The event venue changes every year, with the 2022 location being its most unique yet: the Historic Flight Foundation at Felts Field.


Past themes have been based on major fashion show locations like New York and Paris. “This year, we’re going a different route with the ‘runway’ theme,” Bumgarner said, as the show will take place near the airport runways at Felts Field. “It’s an absolutely gorgeous facility, and all our runways will be right outside the hangar.”


For the 2022 event, dining will be offered via food trucks rather than a seated plated dinner. “Food trucks suit the venue better, and it adds to social distancing measures,” Bumgarner said. “It helps us avoid a buffet line and accommodate dietary restrictions.”


The team at Rock the Runway remains focused on safety and limiting COVID risk. “In the age of COVID, we’re working to make as much of the event as digital and hands-off as possible,” she explained. “We’re implanting online tickets, virtual check-ins, and seeing if we can set up virtual bidding for the auctions.”


While they look forward to the new venue, “mostly what we’re excited about is the first time in two and a half years that the community has been able to gather,” Bumgarner

said. “We’re very excited to celebrate people with disabilities in this way and be in a room together again.”


Many Rock the Runway guests attend the event every year—with the exception of 2021, due to it being canceled. “We wanted to be careful,” Bumgarner said. “We didn’t want to be a high risk for the community. We want to take care of our people. Our board debated for a long time because they recognized that people wanted to come back together, but they weren’t sure if it was safe enough yet.”


Now, in its 2022 return, the event is designed to pull the community together and introduce people to the Arc of Spokane, whose purpose is to promote equity and inclusion.


While the Arc of Spokane’s thrift store is its most public facing service, it offers a long list of programs and services, including 24-hour supported living care, a community center, advocacy efforts, and support for youths transitioning into adulthood. They also support the unemployed in finding work and building the skills they need to succeed in the community. “We serve people in a really wide variety of ways,” Bumgarner shared, and the Rock the Runway event will highlight and support them all—while providing a fun look at community-focused fashion!


Those looking to support fashion for a local cause are invited to participate by purchasing a ticket to attend the event, donating an auction item, or becoming a sponsor. To register to attend Rock the Runway on May 12, visit ARC-Spokane.org/rocktherunway. For questions about the event (or The Arc), you can send an email events@arc-spokane.org or contact the Arc directly at 509.789.8326.


In addition to supporting local charity fashion events, shopping local boutiques is a great way to keep your support within the community while enjoying a long list of trendy items, quality brands and unique seasonal looks right here at home.


This winter, thick patterned knits, chunky details, and plaid of all kinds take the lead in what's trending.


“Chunky booties are on trend for the season and so versatile,” shared Megan Beach of Coeur d'Alene's Muse + Maven Boutique. “Wear them with an oversized sweater dress, shacket, and beanie for a cute, feminine winter look.”


Beach recommends puffer jackets for staying both warm and on-trend all season. “Our faux leather puffer comes in black and tan, and looks amazing with relaxed denim jeans, a knit bodysuit, and chunky boots. The perfect cozy, edgy look!”

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