CHICAGO -- As part of a continuing effort to nurture young, up-and-coming design talent, the Chicago Apparel Center is giving prominence to a group of three local African-American designers.

The designers, who are sponsored by Tanqueray gin, will share exhibition space at the summer women's and children's market, Jan. 14-18, and will be featured in a special segment in the market's designer fashion show being held Jan. 15.

"It's important to the industry that we give a helping hand and visibility to young companies," said Dorothy Fuller, apparel center director.

Collectively called the Tanqueray Chicago Style Fashion Showcase, the trio consists of hip-hop designers Wilson Harris 3rd and Craig Rex Perry, and Sandy Neal, who specializes in avant-garde metallic eveningwear.

"They're special, unique and fresh," Fuller said, noting their fashions should appeal to a wide audience.

Each of the selected designers is a protege of a more established local black designer. The mentors were chosen by Tanqueray because they represent "Chicago style," said a Tanqueray spokesman, and they, in turn, selected the young designers.

Barbara Bates is the mentor for Neal, Sterling Capricio for Harris and Bruce Gage for Perry.

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