U of C fashion club president Nancy Kuot and PARK president Kara Chomistek
courtesy Katrina Power

Redefining design

PARK works hard to increase Calgary's fashion profile

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On February 9, the Gerry Thomas Gallery is filled wall-to-wall with models, photographers, style bloggers and public relations managers at PARK's third annual fashion industry mixer. Photos hang from the ceiling and the tables are messy with business cards and empty wine glasses. The success of the event is evident in the amount of attendees, but the forces behind PARK believe that many still do not know about – and could benefit from – Calgary's thriving fashion scene.

PARK (Promoting Artists | Redefi ning Kulture) is a non-profit network organized by a group of Calgarian artists who are working to promote and support fellow emerging talent in the city. PARK was co-founded in 2008 by University of Calgary alumni Kara Chomistek and Jessi Li, who, along with a circle of style-conscious students, were driven to create the network because they wanted to entertain, engage and intrigue the Calgary community with its vibrant arts scene.

The mixer thrown last Thursday was just one of PARK’s many events. PARK provides space and opportunity for fledgling to showcase their talent through events like PARKLUXE, a fashion show and art exhibition; PARKSHOW, a semi-annual fashion, music and art show; and PARKSALE, an annual outdoor market where artists and vendors can sell and showcase their work. The early-February fashion industry mixer was a kick-off for PARK’s line of 2012 events. It also provided Calgary’s fashionable folk a chance to gather and connect with like-minded individuals for the second year in a row.

“The [fashion industry mixer] this year showed an immense increase of interest and anticipation with representation of nearly all areas of the industry,” says PARK public relations manager Jacqueline Tyler. “Th e 265-plus guests in atten- dance speaks to the potential this city has and how it’s ready to work together and make local fashion and art events happen.”

Tyler urges students interested in fashion and the arts to take advantage of the many opportunities that PARK has to offer.

“PARK is built on the notion of growing urban culture through true celebrations of local artists and designers, and we feel that students who are passionate about their future and making a difference should be aware of non-profit organizations like PARK, to build relationships and follow such activities that will weave new history into the fabric of our city.”

Tyler reminds interested youth that the benefits from engaging in the events will cost them nothing and will beautify their community in the process.

“PARK builds platforms for talent to showcase to the likes of many, for free. Students should leverage such opportunity to grow themselves, which in return grows their city.”

Participating in PARK’s events does not limit students to that network but instead provides them with a “platform to engage and introduce oneself to the entire industry. A lot is happening in this city, and we hope to help bridge the gap, create growth and build awareness.”

The mixer also marked the first event covered by the U of C’s new fashion club, Fashion Folk. “We want to help expose students to the city’s vibrant fashion scene,” says club president Nancy Kuot. “By reporting on the many events like this one that are happening in the community, we hope to be part of changing people’s opinions of Calgary being a city without any style.”

Tyler shares a similar vision.

“There is so much potential, talent and artistic spirit in this city and it’s our goal to build a network of industry leaders that share information, build, nurture and mentor our talent so it remains in Calgary not only to thrive, but to shine and to put our city on the map for high-quality talent and fashion-art events.”