Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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‘Styled By Fulton’ creates space for fashion enthusiasts to shine

Sarah Thong (middle), walks behind models she dressed in clothing and accessories found in shops on Fulton Street. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

In the heart of Downtown Fresno at the vintage T.W. Patterson Mezzanine building, a night of fashion beckoned those who were curious enough to walk up the stairs. Visitors beholded an intricately-detailed staircase that led to an intimate hall filled with fashion aficionados and enthusiasts.

Just last year, FTK (For The Kids) Construction presented “Styled By Fulton,” a fashion competition and show dedicated to styling models in garments found strictly on Fulton Street. The winner received a championship belt that had “Styled By Fulton” inscribed in the center. 

This year, the winner would receive a red championship belt made of alligator skin.

The Fulton Street Party on Aug. 26 dedicated the night to a primarily overlooked community in Fresno, Lowrider and Chicano culture. With dozens of Lowriders parked (or propped up on hydraulics) in front of Tioga-Sequoia, it was evident that the underlying theme of the party was Fresno’s Chicano culture.

Hosts Sam Hansen, owner of FTK (For The Kids) Construction, and David Mederos, presenter of Youtube channel NachoAverageFinds, wanted to pay their respects to those who had shaped Fresno’s recognizable streetwear: to Chicanos and people of color. 

With recent news focusing on the revitalization of Downtown Fresno, Hansen said that he wanted to first recognize businesses and communities who had been at Fulton Street before the reconstruction.

“I was just a little frustrated because it seemed that the main focus of the revitalization of Downtown was just on trendy ideas that lure people from the suburbs down here,” Hansen said. “You can’t sell trends.”

Many of the shops are Latino-owned and “are down there because they want to be down there,” he said.

He began his introductory speech by pointing out how Nike Cortez’s became a staple incorporated in much of streetwear, but had first begun with the Latino people in places like Fresno.

Though “Styled By Fulton” is not a competition based on how well a stylist can incorporate streetwear in their ideas, the main objective was to reveal personal style with pieces from small businesses found on Fulton Street. 

Hansen has been operating FTK Construction since 2001, but now currently operates as the marketing director for the Fresno Grizzlies.

Originally, FTK had two separate locations, one in Visalia and another in Fresno. The store specialized in selling hip hop music, graffiti supplies, streetwear and sneakers but ultimately closed in 2011 because of competition from big box stores.

However, it was revived as a marketing and events company, with sister company Starchild Archives operating as appointment-only. The shop specializes in vintage wear and features designs made from the FTK Construction label. 

“I think that it’s important to understand fashion because fashion tells you about the people and the people tell you what the culture is,” Hansen said.

Fabio (far left) and Jewel (middle second) from Bad Kids Club, Kierra Calhoun (middle) from Styles by KMonet, and Carl Armada (right) from Ghost Labs, judge on a series of style factors for the 2023 ‘Styled By Fulton’ competition. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

The four competitors of this year’s “Styled By Fulton” competition were: Shaq Michelle, Orlando Gillam III, Sarah Thong and Shannon McBee. The judges were a mix of last year’s competitors and judges: Carl Armada from Ghost Labs, last year’s reigning champion, Kierra Calhoun of Styles by KMonet, and returning judges Fabio and Jewel from Bad Kids Club.

Competitors were judged on the following categories: originality/personal statement, range of products/various locations used, technique/approach, balance, rhythm, color schemes/fabrics/patterns, details, unity, proportions and functionality.

Shaq Michelle, a barber at Emergence Studios, incorporates some of her own style into styling her models. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Michelle, a barber at Emergence Studios, dressed her models in garments that exuded gender expression. Her own personal style reflects androgyny and masculinity. 

Her first model was styled in black and white striped pants cuffed at the ankles, and a yellow graphic T-shirt with an aqua cardigan tied at his shoulders. For his footwear, he wore a pair of black huaraches.

Her second model contrasted the first, in that he was dressed in dark denim jeans, an orange ostrich belt and camo patterned vest with no top underneath. For footwear, he wore orange Lugz boots to balance the entire look.

Returning competitor, Sarah Thong, tried her hand at redemption at this year’s competition. She said that with last year’s competition, one of the main factors to her loss was that she only had three days to prepare.

She describes her personal style as being “touristy,” as she prefers cargo pants and large messenger bags. For her models, she was inspired by the architecture of Downtown Fresno.

“I ended up going with black and white, neutral bases for some other elements, and then like a pop of color,” Thong said.

Her first model reflected her idea of wanting to stick to a neutral base. His body was decorated with a off-white crocheted cardigan paired with a white tank top. For his bottoms, Thong decided to finish the look with red trainer pants and black boots.

One of her main challenges for styling her model was finding items based on his measurements and having no idea what he would look like in the clothing. Thong said that it was only until the day before that her model was able to physically try on the clothes. Her biggest takeaway ultimately was to find how to work with proportions.

“Have an understanding of proportions and how to work with those,” she said. “You want to do [for example] something that’s gonna accentuate their height.”

Her second model exuded chic. She was dressed in faux leather shorts, a leopard print ruched crop top and strappy sandals. One of the main focuses for Thong’s second model was the pop of color emanating from her model’s pink purse and pink extensions.

Orlando Gillam III, a frequent shopper on Fulton, first got his start in fashion through his experiences of traveling. His outfits appeared as night and day, contrasting each other but balanced out in terms of garments.

His first look can be defined as ultra feminine and dainty, incorporating a short tulle skirt and kitten heels. For the model’s top, she wore a baby blue oversized button up with Gillam adding a simplistic pearl harness and ribbon bows.

His second model was brash and hyper masculine. The model was fitted with leather pants, and a Harley Davidson T-shirt over a white long sleeve. However, it was the presentation and addition of a bullet shell belt and bandana that reinforced the stereotype of an unapproachable member of a biker gang (made fashionable).

The last competitor was Shannon McBee, a long time thrifter. McBee specializes in creating outfits with what she already has.

For her first look, her model was dressed in a two-toned kimono, blue pants and red color shoes. For accessories, McBee added a hand fan, a beige tote bag and a hat made of paper plates.

For the final look, McBee combined camo-printed pants, a mesh top over an orange triangle bikini top and a baggy varsity jacket. The main attraction from the final look was the use of a beaded headdress.

After 10 minutes of anticipation as the judges decided the winner, Gillam was declared the winner of the second “Styled by Fulton” competition.

Orlando Gillam III (left) is the winner of this “Styled By Fulton” competition. Kierra Calhoun (right) is the champion of last year’s competition. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Although Thong didn’t win, she said that she is relieved after knowing she put in more effort this time around.

“I put in a lot of time over these last couple of weeks, so now it’s like I have the culminating moment and now I could just kind of relax,” Thong said.

Calhoun describes the process of returning as a judge from competing in last year’s competition.

“I was real big on telling a story when I ran last competition, and this year, I needed to hear the stories. Like if they didn’t have a story, it wouldn’t have made sense to me because I feel like fashion is art,” Calhoun said. 

For Calhoun, fashion and culture corresponds with the ability to tell a story. She is also passionate about establishing a fashion scene in Fresno as she hosted “The ‘No Fashion Show” in January 2022 and currently runs a styling business, Styles by KMonet.

“I feel like I have been able to inspire so many people in the fashion industry and we didn’t even know that we have this many people in the fashion industry in Fresno or the Central Valley,” Calhoun said.



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