I first met Witneigh Davis and Giovanni Ramadani in a coffeeshop in 2014, just as the weather was starting to soften. It was only a few months after we had put out the very first issue of Triad City Beat in February, and the three of us bonded with entrepreneurial zeal.
Their idea was a big one: an annual Fashion Week in the city, on par with similar operations in places like Charlotte, Miami and even (gasp) Paris and New York City. And my first reaction was: Wow. Why has no one ever done this before?
It’s a natural in Greensboro, where for more than a century we manufactured textiles, the raw materials of the fashion industry, especially denim, which may be the most important fabric in American history.
They had big plans: sponsorships, an 80-foot runway, scores of models, stylists and designers. At that point, it was really just the two of them — a former model (Ramadani) and fashion junkie (Davis), leaning into the difficult task of building something huge, from the ground up.
I signed on immediately.
The crowd ran a little thin that first year, but Wit and Gio took everything they learned and poured it into the next one. And the next one. And the next. Last year, on Saturday night’s main event, we saw our biggest crowd yet. And still they pushed.
Greensboro Fashion Week has grown to include five nights of programming every fall, a spring preview show and a model camp for local kids who hope to one day be part of the show. This year we’re holding the main event in an airplane hangar at the airport, and we took on a new sponsor, Sprite, which chose just three fashion weeks in the United States this year.
I spent Tuesday evening at the meet and greet, saying hello to other staff veterans, meeting the models’ parents and nailing down details for the live events, which begin Thursday night at the Greensboro Children’s Museum. It’s going to be a long weekend, and we’re ready to meet it.
On the way home I considered the 5-year mark, a significant milestone for any business, and how privileged I have been to see this thing turn from a spark in their minds into a living, breathing thing. And I understood how helping other people realize their dreams can be more satisfying than achieving our own.
Brian Clarey has been the Greensboro Fashion Week emcee since 2014, and Triad City Beat has been a title sponsor. Find out more about the event at greensborofashionweek.com.