LOS ANGELES — From the Oscars to the Grammys, this town loves doling out trophies, and now, the homegrown fashion industry is claiming its own awards show.
The Los Angeles Fashion Awards are to bow Oct. 21 at the historic Orpheum Theatre downtown. The event is timed to occur between Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios, Oct. 16 to 20, and market week, Oct. 21 to 25.
“We were looking for ways to increase the visibility of L.A. fashion and for something that wasn’t already happening,” said Jennifer Uner, co-founder of the awards with Mary Hill. “We were looking for a way to gather the entire community.”
This last goal refers to organizers’ efforts to encompass even Southern California-based companies that would not appear on a runway, yet are making an impact on the global marketplace in terms of sales or trends.
“It was important that these awards recognize business as much as the edgy or glamour part of L.A. fashion,” Uner said.
To that end, the seven award categories include fashion achievement, which highlights financial success, and a prize to a retailer or brand sustaining the best performance after an initial public offering.
Founding sponsor Moss Adams LLP, the high-profile industry accounting firm here, will recognize fashion innovation of a fledgling designer. It has previously been awarded at the end of the trend show hosted by the California Market Center.
Awards in marketing, retail, communication and a special “visionary” honor will also be presented during the two-hour show.
Not every player in the fashion community here is celebrating the move.
“L.A. fashion will only become more successful when we stop being so insular with these kinds of platforms,” said a fashion publicist, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I don’t think this will make the international industry take L.A. more seriously if we’re just patting ourselves on the back.”
Although outspoken about the relevance of the runway shows in Los Angeles, Ilse Metchek, executive director of the California Fashion Association, is lending her weight to this event, having networked on behalf of Uner and Hill. “Whether this is the be all and end all of all events, it’s at least a first step,” she said.
The nominating committee will draw from a range of members, from retail owners to editors. Nominees will be announced in September and October.
Uner and Hill originally teamed at the California Market Center, where they worked, respectively, as executive director of marketing and executive director of events and the fashion office. The pair left when ownership of the mart changed hands this spring.