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The RUNWAY fashion show embodies our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive campus culture. It provides a safe and empowering platform for our students to express their unique talents and creative visions. More than just a fashion event, RUNWAY is an invaluable applied learning experience that equips our students with the skills and knowledge needed for successful careers in the fashion industry.


Beyond the runway, this remarkable show encourages our students to actively engage with their communities, promoting social responsibility both on campus and throughout Buffalo. RUNWAY is a shining example of cross-campus collaboration, uniting the Fashion and Textile Technology Department with the Art & Design Department and the Africana Studies Program at Buffalo State. It also serves as a powerful vehicle for raising awareness about pressing issues such as race, social equity, ethics, and environmental sustainability, all of which play pivotal roles in our ever-evolving global economy.


RUNWAY is a yearly fashion show organized by the Fashion and Textile Technology Department. It happens each spring, and our FTT students are in charge of putting together a top-notch fashion show. This event showcases the skills and talent of our students who are studying Apparel Design and Merchandising, as well as the contributions of our faculty and alumni. RUNWAY is a fantastic opportunity for Buffalo State students to express their creativity, demonstrate their abilities, learn how to manage a large-scale fashion event, and gain valuable real-world experience.

Students lead the production of RUNWAY with support from the Fashion Department faculty. It's a collaborative effort across the campus, involving the Fashion and Textile Technology Department, Fibers Arts, and Africana Studies. Our students work with local boutiques, models, and freelance hair and makeup stylists to create runway looks.

Here's a breakdown of how the selection process works:

  1. Submission Deadline: Designers at all levels submit final garments to our Critique and Evaluation event the first Friday of April. RUNWAY judges consist of industry experts who assess each piece. Only the best garments get selected to be featured on the runway. Judges come from our alumni network and industry partners to provide valuable feedback for our students' growth and future success. They also pick outstanding designers for awards such as Senior Designer Awards, Student Collection Award, and Rising Star Award.

  2. On the RUNWAY: The second round of judging happens during the actual runway show. RUNWAY judges select their favorite designer for the Best in Show award. After the show, all winners are announced and celebrated on stage. 


  • 1st Place Senior Collection ($1,000)

  • 2nd Place Senior Collection ($500)

  • 3rd Place Senior Collection ($300)

  • Student Collection Award ($300)

  • Rising Star Award ($250)

  • Fiber Arts Awards (To Be Determined)

  • Single Item Award ($250)

  • Best in Show ($500)

Designer categories:

  • Senior Designer: Students in the "Senior Project FTT 451" course create a cohesive collection of 4 outfits that align with the focus.

  • Student Collection: You can create a collection of 4 outfits that follow the focus.

  • Single Item: Despite the name, this category requires an entire, finished outfit.

  • Fiber Arts: Reserved for Fiber Arts students.


Buffalo State University's Fashion and Textile Technology department has undergone significant growth, propelled by its steadfast commitment to fundraising, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Central to this commitment is the annual RUNWAY fashion show, which has evolved into a cornerstone of scholarship support, social justice advocacy, and educational innovation.


The inception of RUNWAY is credited to Erin Habes '03, an FTT alumna who returned as an adjunct faculty member in 2007. Erin's determination to infuse her fashion industry experience into her teaching and elevate the program's profile within Buffalo led to an ambitious undertaking. Her vision for RUNWAY exceeded conventional campus productions, choosing the prestigious AKG Art Gallery as the inaugural venue. The success of this event marked the beginning of Erin's role as the faculty director of RUNWAY.


Professor Elaine Polvinen played a vital role in this journey, recognizing the financial struggles students faced not only in accessing higher education but also in obtaining essential textbooks and supplies. In 1998, she introduced the senior fashion show, designed to showcase student work, garner positive attention, and raise funds for student scholarships. Her dedication culminated in the establishment of the Elaine Polvinen Scholarship, providing financial support to students.


Dr. Lynn Boorady, chair of the Fashion and Textile Technology department from 2010 to 2017, continued Professor Polvinen's scholarship-building mission, solidifying her legacy.


The RUNWAY fashion show has been instrumental in championing scholarships. The Eastman Foundation Scholarship, established in 2010, gained strong support from Marla Coniglio, former Executive VP of Sales at Eastman Machine Company, fully endowing it in 2015. These efforts, driven by the RUNWAY fashion show, have profoundly impacted students and the department's pursuit of excellence.


In 2014, former Buffalo State Events Management Director, Thomas Coates, and his husband, Dr. Brad Mazon, attended the show and were deeply impressed. Their generous contributions of $12,500 to the FTT department led to the establishment of the RUNWAY Forever! Fund. They continue to support the program's success, exemplifying community investment. The RUNWAY team has expanded its fashion styling closet in their honor.


In 2017, Dr. Keunyoung Oh became the department chair, leading RUNWAY's transformation into an anti-racist department, harnessing the annual fashion show to address systemic racism in the fashion industry. Buffalo State's Fashion and Textile Technology Department is unwavering in its commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity within the world of fashion.


Erin Habes, tasked with creating a more equitable fashion show, pioneered the Black Fashion Scholarship and has devoted the past three years to endowing it. This scholarship is a significant endeavor aimed at supporting promising Black, African-American, or African-descent students dedicated to fostering equity within the fashion industry.


Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to Dr. Paco Hernandez at Buffalo Art Movement, whose remarkable efforts have raised over $10K+ for the scholarship. Dr. Hernandez's dedication ensures a lasting legacy for the Black Fashion Scholarship, empowering future generations of Black fashion students to excel. Join us in championing these talented individuals as we continue shaping the future of fashion with inclusivity and equity at its core.


RUNWAY's storied history reflects a dynamic journey of growth and transformation. Throughout the years, it has not merely been a fashion show but a platform for innovation and evolution. The transitions from one venue to another, from collaborating with the AKG and Burchfield Penney Art Center to adapting to the challenges posed by the pandemic, showcase its adaptability and resilience. These changes have allowed RUNWAY to continually reinvent itself, keeping pace with the shifting landscape of the fashion industry. 


Today, under the visionary leadership of Erin Habes, Dr. Keunyoung Oh and Dr. Shantell Reid, RUNWAY has become more than just a runway show; it represents a dedication to providing educational opportunities through scholarships, addressing systemic issues through social justice advocacy, and making education accessible to all. 


RUNWAY's impact extends far beyond the boundaries of Buffalo State University. It serves as an inspiration to all who aspire to create a more equitable and diverse fashion world. It offers a blueprint for how fashion can be a force for positive change, fostering an environment where creativity thrives, and where every voice is heard and celebrated. 

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