Project Runway All-Star Suede at Hudson's Jo-Ann Fabrics Friday, Kent State Saturday

by Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

A "Project Runway All-Star" and Kent State University alumus is planning to bring New York Fashion Week to Kent Saturday, after a stop in Hudson Friday.

Stephen Baum, far better known by his nickname "Suede," will unveil his new SUEDEsays fabrics and patterns, with 15 exclusive runway looks, during two free fashion shows in Rockwell Hall Auditorium at 515 Hilltop Drive on the KSU campus Saturday. The first show begins at 1 p.m. and the second is set for 3:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public, with no reservations required.

In addition to the fashion show Saturday, Suede is doing a meet-and-greet Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Jo-Ann Fabrics, located at 5381 Darrow Road in Hudson.

The new fabric line, an exclusive to Jo-Ann Fabrics, is focused on special occasion wear, Suede said, which is "geared toward the younger consumer who has prom, homecoming, a sorority event and any special event that needs a special dress."

Suede said his influences for this season centered on colors, textures and classic, but flirty and edgy, styles.

"I wanted to make sure everything was tasteful, so I made these styles that were timeless, modern and beautiful," he said.

Since graduating in 1993 from KSU's fashion school, where the Cleveland native earned his nickname, Suede went on to establish himself as a New York City-based designer and launch many well-known brands including Fubu Ladies, Rocawear Girls, Lee 1889, Jordache Vintage and Polo Jeans Company.

In 2001, Suede created a lifetime endowment scholarship to go to one KSU senior fashion major each year.

"I feel that my career took me the way it did because of the foundation I had built at Kent, and clearly without that foundation, I don't think I would have made it as far as I did," he said, adding that he hopes the endowment can help lead fashion students down a successful path.

After competing in season five of the Bravo television series "Project Runway," he was inducted into the Kent State University Fashion Hall of Fame, and in 2011 launched the SUEDEsays fashion line through Simplicity Patterns.

Suede said his line focuses on three different consumers: classic, edgy and flirty.

"Within every pattern pack, you've got three different looks so the consumer can pick what's best for them," he said. "The brand isn't about dictating 'This is what you wear,' it's about the consumer really being able to express themselves.

Suede said although New York Fashion Week is coming soon, his local ties and connection with Jo-Ann Fabrics led him to pick KSU to premier his new fabric line.

"We could've done it in New York, but I thought, 'Wait, I graduated from Kent, I'm from Ohio, Jo-Ann is in Ohio, why don't we just do it in Kent have this huge event?" he said. "I'm super thrilled to come back home. It's going to be an incredible event, one not to be missed and it's bringing a New York-kind of fashion week to Ohio."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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