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Boston Fashion Week returns Wednesday with Downtown Crossing Open Runway

Boston Fashion Week's runway show in Downtown Crossing will return on May 24. This model wears a design by designer AK Liesenfeld and photographer Bob Packert from the show in 2019.George Comeau

Downtown Crossing, a hub for shopping, will soon play host to runway fashion, strutting through the streets.

Boston Fashion Week will host an outdoor fashion show, with Downtown Boston Business Improvement District support, on Wednesday by The Steps in Downtown Crossing. The Open Runway event is free and open to the public, said Jay Calderin, founder and executive director of Boston Fashion Week, a long-standing initiative to celebrate and showcase designers from the New England area.

He expects 30-plus designers to send between one and three of their designs down the runway. Both students and professionals were invited to participate; registration was required, but free. Calderin contacted local colleges, including the School of Fashion Design and Massachusetts College of Art and Design, to encourage new talent of all levels to show off their work. Boston Fashion Week’s website describes the event akin to an “open mic night for singers and comedians.”

“One year, we had somebody as young as 14, whose father helped her create her first collection, and [a] local designer who was 74,” said Calderin. He explained that participants don’t have to work in the fashion industry and referenced to another former participant, an older woman, who had shown her knit sweaters on the runway.


George Comeau, marketing director for BID, said the runway show has previously attracted 200–250 audience members.

“It’s important to support young artists and designers. [The show is] also incredibly accessible and diverse,” he said. “We have a lot of designers color. We have a lot of underserved communities [and] individuals who haven’t had the opportunity to participate in a fashion show. It’s a very comfortable space to be able to exhibit your work and your art.”

Calderin and a panel of three other industry professionals will provide commentary on the show. While the event is a Boston Fashion Week initiative, the organization’s 29th annual BFW will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 7, with a full lineup of programming across the city. The Open Runway, however, is a preview of what’s to come.


“Boston Fashion Week is a little different than in other cities because it is a civic initiative,” said Calderin. “The whole idea is community building and giving access both ways. [The Open Runway event gives] access to the general public for the designers and access to our great local fashion scene and different talents for the public.”

Open Runway Fashion Show. May 24, noon; rain date May 31, Free. The Steps at Franklin and Washington Street, 1 Franklin St.

Maddie Browning can be reached at