Behind the Seams at Provo Fashion Week

New York, Paris, Milan, and Provo.

Thanks to Marriott School student Bree Wilkins, Utah fashion connoisseurs don’t have to travel thousands of miles for a glimpse of the catwalks. With coproducer Natalie Workman, Wilkins organized this fall’s Provo Fashion Week: three shows held in the Provo City Library ballroom showcasing the work of eighteen local designers. I interviewed Wilkins, who will be graduating this December with a BA in business management, about her role behind the seams.

MAM: Provo Fashion Week was the first major event you were in charge of. How did it go?

BW: We could fit between three hundred to four hundred people at the shows, and we sold out all three. This event was held in a much bigger venue than our shows last spring, so it was great that we had such a good turnout!

Bree WilkinsMAM: Tell me a little bit about how you got started with fashion.

BW: When I was a junior in high school I was trying to find a homecoming dress, and I didn’t like anything I found. I came home and told my mom, “This is what I want; let’s just make it!” From then on, I made all my formal dresses and started making other clothes. I was accepted into the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, which has a really exclusive design program. After I got my AAS in fashion design, I moved back to Provo to pursue a degree at BYU.

MAM: Why did you want a business degree on top of your fashion degree?

BW: I always knew I wanted a bachelor’s degree. I’m interested in business and wanted to make sure that if I did start my own company I would know how to run it. I took some entrepreneurship classes but decided that marketing is what will really help me sell my designs.

MAM: How did your Marriott School experience prepare you to take on this challenge?

BW: A lot of the strategies I’ve learned helped me organize Provo Fashion Week. I’m able to understand the business side of the fashion industry. I was the one who was able to coordinate with businesses and step into an administrative role.

MAM: What was the most rewarding part?

BW: It was amazing how many people showed up for a fashion event in Provo. We have so many local designers—it’s crazy how much talent is here! A lot of people in Utah have a sewing background, and they don’t get enough credit. Now there’s a place for people to showcase their work, and I’m excited to see how big it can get.

MAM: What are your plans for the future of PFW and your own line, aBree Original?

BW: After the shows I gained five hundred Instagram followers. Hopefully I’ll get more business, start selling more custom pieces, and continue to grow my online presence. In March we’re putting on spring Provo Fashion Week, and after that my husband and I are moving to New York City. I’m hoping to get hired by a big designer, so I can gain more experience and network with manufacturers. I’ll decide if I want to launch my own business in stores or continue on the custom route—I’d love to design for the red carpet. And I’ll still coproduce Provo Fashion Week from New York!