Back in 2007, Nancy Vaughan had quite a time getting local companies excited about Tampa Bay Fashion Week.
"They just didn't get it," said Vaughn, owner of WhiteBook agency, one of the producers of the fashion event. "I had to keep explaining what is was."
It's gotten much easier these days as Tampa Bay Fashion Week gets ready to celebrate its fifth anniversary.
It goes without saying, Tampa's event is more laid back than New York or Miami's fashion week, but the local event is generating a lot of buzz as designers, industry pros and fashionistas gear up for multiple days of fashion shows, style seminars and shopping experiences that get under way Saturday.
"We've seen so much progress over the years," Vaughn added. "Not everybody gets it, but the ones who do really appreciate it. People know there is a fashion week, and there are more successful designers in this area we need to support."
Designers such as St. Petersburg resident Rhonda Shear, creator of Rhonda Shear Intimates and the best-selling Ahh Bra; Kimberly Hendrix, who operates a showroom in downtown St. Petersburg, and Essence Flowers, who designs swimwear for cheerleaders with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chief and the Dallas Cowboys, have shown collections at Tampa Bay Fashion Week.
"This is an opportunity to interact with people who are passionate about fashion, whether in retail or design," Vaughn said. "We still have some work to do, but we've come a long way."
Here are some of the highlights of Tampa Bay Fashion Week. For a complete list and ticket prices go to fashionweektampabay.com: