Business and Fashion: The Dynamic Duo

Brian at PHXFW 2012Brian Hill never expected his passion for business and fashion to grow into the success it has today. Now Executive Director for Phoenix Fashion Week, Hill found a niche for the fashion industry as a student at Arizona State University. While studying for a degree in marketing and real estate, Hill began designing and selling workout gear for his fellow classmates. Eventually the brand Femme Athletic was born.

“Femme Athletic is women’s apparel and we launched in the fall of ’98,” Hill says, “Really it was because of all our friends around ASU that were athletes.”

Hill began selling his brand to students, parents and personal trainers. The brand had their first account with The Spa at Camelback Inn. Eventually, Hill began looking at other opportunities to grow his brand and company. Phoenix Fashion Week gave Hill the platform he was looking for in order to learn more about the fashion industry and the business side of it as well.

“I was a volunteer at the beginning at Phoenix Fashion Week and I just wanted my brand to get more sales,” Hill says. “This [Phoenix Fashion Week] seemed like a good platform and that’s how it started.”

Hill took on the position of Executive Director in 2008. In his new position he worked toward expanding the business aspects of Phoenix Fashion Week and creating an environment in which emerging designers can grow their own business.

“We use emerging designers, that’s the basis of the whole thing,” Jennifer Wells, an employee with Phoenix Fashion Week, says. “We want the emerging designers to get exposure and we want to grow fashion in Arizona so this is the perfect way to do it.”

Hill highlights his team in the success that Phoenix Fashion Week has had. The program involves full-time employees as well as volunteers who are looking to expand their knowledge on the fashion industry and business techniques by working in their own areas of interest.

The tight-knit community created from within Phoenix Fashion Week is hard for anyone to overlook. Beth Logan, a representative in sales for Phoenix Fashion Week’s emerging designer winner, Misha Mendicino Designs, took notice of the welcoming atmosphere during this year’s events.

“I love it because everyone knows each other, even Brian, the Director of Phoenix Fashion Week knows all of the local designers,” Logan says, “It gives them a different atmosphere when the people running the show know each other.”

Since then Hill has worked to expand the goals of Phoenix Fashion Week to the community around him, including ASU. Hill has worked closely with the Business of Fashion Club in helping to promote careers in both the business and fashion industry.

PHXFW 2013“When I got into the meeting and gave a talk to all the kids, I was just blown away by how many members they had in the club because I thought back to my time at ASU when I didn’t know if there was any other person on campus that cared about fashion,” Hill says.

Hill says that the fashion industry is very broad and offers many opportunities for students.

“It really touched me that these young students in fashion, business, PR, cut and sew, etc., really care about being successful in the fashion industry that I wanted to do anything that I could to help them at that point,” Hill says.

Hill encourages students to look into the various volunteer opportunities right in their backyard, such as contacting museums, local designers and boutiques.

“There are so many opportunities now for these Business of Fashion students to get out there and get real world experience,” Hill says.

Many members of the Business of Fashion Club have taken Hill’s advice and became involved in Phoenix Fashion Week events such as sales, branding and social media.

“We break fashion week down into a few categories ranging from style to operations,” Hill says. “Based on your major and knowledge you can actually get experience in these different areas. We have a place for anyone looking for any vertical on the spectrum of fashion.”

Overall Phoenix Fashion Week has become a platform for people with any type of ambition, from design to sales to styling. The same strategies and goals Hill utilized at the start of his career are still shown through the team at Phoenix Fashion Week and continue to inspire those looking to get into the fashion industry.

Reach the writer at or via Twitter @manalichavan72.

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