#1 How do I apply and what qualifications must applicants possess in order to enter the Charleston Fashion Week® Emerging Designer Competition: East contest?

First, applicants must read through this FAQ thoroughly and check that they understand each question/answer below.  Once each question/answer has been accepted, applicants will be directed to complete an online application in 3 easy steps:

  1. Fill out and complete the application
  2. Upload sketches and collection images
  3. Submit your application

[NOTE: Partial information does not save to the Charleston Fashion Week® system. Only after a designer has clicked the SUBMIT button at the end of the application will complete submissions be made. Designers are encouraged to save and back up information.]

Applications must be submitted by Monday, October 14, 2013
at 11 p.m. EST. 


There are no age restrictions or required experience for the Emerging Designer Competition: East applicants (both individual designers and design duos accepted; those under 18 will need parental/guardian permission to apply).

To qualify, you must fall into one of these categories:
(i) Currently design for own label/company and have done so for less than two years.
(ii) Currently design fashions as a hobby/part time job/on the side.
(iii) Currently study fashion design


#2 What state do I have to reside in to submit my application and qualify for the competition?

Emerging Designer Competition: East presented by Benefitfocus is open to residents of Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, or West Virginia.


#3 Do my design submissions have to be sewn by me, or am I permitted to have a seamstress produce my designs?

You are permitted to work with a seamstress, as long as the designs are your own.


#4 What is the deadline for submitting my application?

Designers can enter the Emerging Designer Competition: East presented by Benefitfocus starting Friday, August 16, 2013.  Entries must be received by Monday, October 14, 2014 at 11 p.m. EST.  Applications submitted after this date and time will not be considered.


#4-A. What sketches and portfolio images are required for application submission?

Designers must submit design sketches or renderings of four (4) garments to be featured in the proposed collection to be presented at Charleston Fashion Week® 2014. Low-resolution digital photo or scanned images of sketches are accepted (72 dpi) in jpeg format ONLY. Maximum size per image is 2MB.

In addition, designers must submit images for a minimum of two (2) complete garments from either an existing collection or to be used in your Fall 2014 (Resortwear or Bridal) collection shown at Charleston Fashion Week®. You must submit a minimum of one (1) full length shot and two (2) detail shots per garment. The images need to be of professional quality and a model must be used. All images must be low-resolution images (72 dpi) in jpeg format. Maximum size per image is 2MB. You will be asked to provide thorough information of materials used in the garment on the description line following each image upload.


#5. Do my design submissions have to be exclusive to the Emerging Designer Competition: East presented by Benefitfocus?

No. However the collection you present must have never been shown on a professional runway. In other words, your collection must debut on the CFW runway.


#6. Can I show the same collection I am showing at Charleston Fashion Week® 2014 in another city’s Fashion Week?

Yes, but the collection shown at Charleston Fashion Week® must be shown first at Charleston Fashion Week® 2014, prior to any other events. See question above.


#7. What season should my collection focus on?

Designers must present a Fall 2014 or Swimwear/Resort 2015 collection at Charleston Fashion Week®.  Bridal designers will present bridalwear collections and it must include at least one bridal gown.  See full details below.

#8. How many looks should be included in my collection presented at Charleston Fashion Week®?

Your collection must include 12 looks.  If selected as a semifinalist, you will be asked to show 8 looks the night of your runway presentation (nights of Tuesday, March 18 – Friday, March 21, final schedule to be determined by Charleston Fashion Week®).  If selected as a finalist, you will be asked to show your entire collection (your original 8 looks plus 4 additional looks) on Saturday, March 22, 2014.  

The winning Emerging Bridal Designer will present at Charleston Fashion Week's® Spring Bridal Show on Saturday, March 22, 2014.  Time to be determined and subject to change. Your collection must include 10-12 looks.  The collection can consist of any bridal party apparel (bride, groom, bridesmaid, groomsman, mother of the bride, flower girl, etc.), but you must have a minimum of one bridal gown.


#9. If selected as a Top Design 20 semifinalist, or the Emerging Bridal Designer, when and how will I be notified?

Top finalists and all other submitted applicants will be notified by e-mail and phone by Monday, November 18, 2013.


#10. If selected as a Top Design 20 semifinalist, what time commitment will be required?

Emerging Designers MUST commit to the following dates, in order to participate in the competition:

1.Attend the mandatory model fitting and video filming in January 2014 (details below).

2.Attend the actual Charleston Fashion Week® event Tuesday, March 18 through Saturday, March 22, 2014.  

3.Be on hand for final model fittings beginning at 8am on Sunday, March 16, 2014. CFW recommends arriving into Charleston on Saturday, March 15, although hotel accommodations for out-of-town designers will not start until Sunday evening, March 16th.


#11. What takes place at the Top Design 20 party in January and what is expected?

First, we really want to celebrate the fact the Top Design 20 have made it this far. We believe it is a real honor to make it to this level from the anticipated 150+ applications, and the Top Design 20 should be acknowledged as such. Secondly, there is a practical point. During this period we will film the introductory videos and do initial model fittings.


#12. Is there a financial obligation to participate in the Emerging Designer Competition: East presented by Benefitfocus?

Charleston Fashion Week® does not require a fee to apply for the competition.  However designers are responsible for any and all costs associated with designing/creating their looks including shoes, accessories, and any special hair and makeup pieces you wish to use for the show.  Designers are also responsible for their own travel to/from Charleston (see details below), transporting their collection, and meals, for both the January 2014 model fittings & video filming and the week of the event.  


#13. If selected as a Top Design 20 semifinalist will travel to/from Charleston and accommodations in Charleston be provided?

If you are based outside the Charleston, South Carolina area, you are responsible for your travel to/from Charleston both for the model fittings & video filming in January and the week of the event in March. Once here, lodging will be provided for out-of-town designers evenings of  Sunday, March 16 – Saturday, March 22, 2014. Designers will be responsible for their own hotel accommodations evenings of Friday, January 17 and Saturday, January 18.  CFW will provide details on preferred hotel rate. *Any guest(s) of the designer are responsible for their own lodging and transportation. 

 *An exception will be made for designers under the age of 18. 


#14. If selected as one of the Top Design 20 semifinalists, how will I create my Charleston Fashion Week® runway show (choose models, music, hair/makeup looks, shoes, etc.)?

You will design your own runway show with Charleston Fashion Week® acting as your producer. Charleston Fashion Week® will provide models, music, and hair/makeup looks based on your design aesthetic. Designers are responsible for the runway designs, concepts, shoes, accessories, and any special hair or makeup pieces.


#15. Can I use my own models for the runway show?

Only models that are cast and selected for the Charleston Fashion Week® 2014 model book may be used for your runway show. An online model book will be provided for designers to review and select a set number of models. Final selection will be made by Charleston Fashion Week®. Designers will fit models in January 2014. Additional details above regarding time and financial commitments related to model fittings. 


#16. When do designers show their collections?

All Top Design 20 semifinalists will show their collections on one night between Tuesday, March 18 – Friday, March 21, 2014 (time to be announced at a later date). One semifinalist from each night will then be selected by the panel of judges as a finalist to advance to Saturday evening, March 22, 2014 and the chance to be named the Grand Prize Winner. The Emerging Bridal Designer will show Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the CFW’s Spring Bridal Show (time to be announced at a later date and subject to change).

#17. How many Charleston Fashion Week® attendees will view my runway presentation?

More than 7,000 people attended Charleston Fashion Week® 2013, including buyers, store owners, and fashion industry professionals. Charleston Fashion Week® attracts local, regional, and national press attention.


#18. Do semifinalists receive tickets to Charleston Fashion Week®?

Designers will be asked to attend each night during the week of the event. A daily nightly pass will be provided to each designer to do so. You will receive this when you arrive to Charleston Fashion Week® in March. Two additional tickets for guests and/or family members will also be provided for the evening you are showing.  Design duos see special note below. If you are selected as a finalist to move on to Saturday evening, you will receive two tickets for this as well. Additional tickets may be purchased online via the Charleston Fashion Week® website. Tickets will be on-sale October, 2013.

Special note: If you are a design duo team, you will still receive two tickets for the night you show (NOT four tickets), and two tickets if selected as a finalist to show on Saturday (NOT four tickets). However, each person in the design duo team will receive a nightly pass to attend the shows each evening they are not showing. 


#19. What designers who have shown at Charleston Fashion Week® in seasons past have gone on to successful ventures?

All of our 2008 designers. went on to second casting auditions for Project Runway. Two CFW designers – 2008 Emerging Designer finalist Carol Hannah Whitfield and Gordana Gelhausen, retail designer, were featured contestants on season 6 of Project Runway. 

2009 Emerging Designer Winner Marysia Reeves' swimwear has been featured in the 2010 and 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions, VOGUE, Coastal Living, Teen VOGUE, and WWD. The Marysia SWIM collection has been picked up by BARNEY's New York, Anthropologie, and many other high-end boutiques across the country and internationally.

Lindsey Carter was selected as an Emerging Designer finalist for CFW 2009, with the debut collection from TROUBADOUR, which garnered praise from Women's Wear Daily, who named her a "Designer to Watch." The line has also been featured in E!News, Daily Candy, Garden & Gun, Fashion Week Daily, WGSN, and Stylesight. Beginning Fall 2013, TROUBADOUR will also be carried online at the luxury retail giant, Neiman Marcus. 

Charlotte Hess, 2011 Grand Prize Emerging Design Winner, was featured by and has since opened a textile studio in Nantucket where she does knit to order pieces from her line and custom work. Her collection can now be found at boutiques in Nantucket, MA; Palm Beach, FL; Burlington, VT; Auckland, New Zealand and Glasgow, Scotland.

CFW 2013 Emerging Designer semifinalist Jazsalyn McNeil was also a 2013 Belk Southern Designer Showcase winner, and her collection was sold storewide at Belk. Since CFW, Jazsalyn has embarked on a partnership with Lectra, the leading provider of integrated technology solutions that addresses the entire fashion collection process. McNeil will be designing two outfits to be used in a worldwise campagin featuring Lectra's technol­ogy. Over the past 40 years, Lectra has worked with some of the biggest names in fashion including Armani, Calvin Klein, Dior, Prada, and H&M. 


#20. What press coverage does Charleston Fashion Week® typically receive?

Charleston Fashion Week 2013 generated more than 184 million media impressions through the activation and support of local and national media to include reporters, bloggers, photographers, editors and journalists. CFW 2013 press highlights include event coverage by Huffington Post, CNN,Southern Living, The Daily Front Row, and Post & Courier, etc. More than 165 credentialed media were onsite to cover and report the events of the week. To review past CFW press releases and event coverage visit the media tab of


#21. If selected as the Emerging Designer Grand Prize Winner, what does the prize package include?

The Grand Prize Winner will receive website design and online marketing package from F22 Designs valued at $10,000; professional hi-quality lookbook images of Winner's Fall collection photographed by J. Balliet: Photographer; BERNINA sewing machine compliments of Fashion Fabrics, retail value $1,400: and a free runway show at Charleston Fashion Week® 2015.


#22. During what time frame must the winner redeem his/her prize?

Lookbook photography session will take place immediately following the show on Saturday evening, March 22, 2014. Your online marketing package from F22 Designs must take place within one year of the date on which you were awarded the prize.  The Bernina sewing machine and cash prize will be mailed within one month of the announcement.


#23. Can I enter the Emerging Designer Competition: East contest in subsequent seasons?

Yes. If you have not been selected as one of the semifinalists for any competition in years past, you may re-enter the Emerging Designer Competition: East again.


#24. If I am experiencing technical difficulties uploading images or submitting my application, who do I contact?

You can contact CFW via e-mail at  


#25. I have read the Rules and Regulations

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