Valencia Fashion Week ended yesterday after a compact three-day run of 28 fashion shows and eight designers competing for the Zona D-awards worth €3,000.
Held from September 2-4, Valencia Fashion Week kicked off with some colorful beach- and swimwear with colorblocking and stripes by Dolores Cortés and brightly colored cocktail and evening dresses by local design star Alex Vidalm, who also runs a well-known fashion boutique in the city. Among the highlights on the second day were Tonuca with its beautiful variations on the white blouse, pleated dresses and skirts, and tiered skirts, and Nona where sporty yet feminine nylon styles with elastic waistbands and legs were teamed up with Sixties jacket blouses and parajumper hoodies. Among the younger designers showing on the third day, Laga stood out with his feminine floral printed trench coats and dresses.

Launched in the late ’90s, Valencia Fashion Week continues to be held twice a year in Spain’s third biggest city. As an event city, Valencia gained a strong reputation with last year’s America's Cup yachting race and its first Formula 1 car race during the last weekend in August of this year. The city is also famous for its modernity, with avant-garde buildings such as the Opera, the Museum of Science and the Oceanographic Waterworld Museum.

On the fashion front, however, there is still much to learn. We know Spain for its fashion brands with international reputations such as Custo Barcelona (which shows next week during New York Fashion Week) and Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (which stages its catwalk show during Madrid Fashion Week in mid-September and Milan Fashion Week one week later). And we know well the Spanish denim brands Lois and Cimarron by Saez Merino group, as well as the footwear brands Pedro Garcia and Camper. But instead of pooling all of Spain’s design talent for one big fashion week, this southern European country holds three different fashion weeks in three different cities at three different dates—Valencia with Valencia Fashion Week, Barcelona with 080Barcelona and Madrid with Cybeles Madrid, all held in the same months as fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris. One of the main reasons for the division has to do with local politics and money. In Valencia, for example, designers are invited to show and expenses are covered by organizers and sponsors.

In the meantime, Spain’s apparel industry is looking at 2008 with light optimism. Though exports registered a growth of 9% in 2007, growth in 2008 is expected to slow just as the European economy is expected to do so as a whole. That said, 2007 went down as one of the best years for foreign sales, with global exports for the industry reaching a record figure of 8 billion, doubling figures reported in the last decade. Although growth has centered on articles of clothing (knitwear and ready-to-wear), overall products have improved figures for 2007. Thus, exports of woven materials and fabrics have increased by 2.5%, representing almost 30% of total goods exported; those exports rank second in importance after clothing exports, which exceed 50% of the total due to the foreign trading activities of leading Spanish production/distribution companies.

—Michaela Schmidinger, Fashion Features Editor