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San Francisco’s Unofficial Fashion Week Is About to Hit the Runway

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Two models on runway with crowd watching at left
A shot from California College of the Arts' 2023 fashion show. (Nicholas Lea Bruno/CCA)

In mid-April, young designers at three San Francisco schools were busy ripping out seams, running their purring sewing machines and organizing their models. They were in the final weeks before the city’s unofficial fashion week (May 9–16), and it was crunch time at San Francisco State University, California College of the Arts and Academy of Art University.

Andre Aberin, 23, was hunched over a pair of two-toned workwear pants in a room lined with half-clothed mannequins at SFSU on a Wednesday night. “My collection is based upon my love for video games and everything science fiction and also utilitarian wear,” he said.

Elsewhere in San Francisco, Pamela Alcala, 22, was sorting through a rack of colorful crocheted wool garments at CCA. “My collection is a menswear take on my grandmother,” she said. “It’s about the appreciation for hand-crafting and playfulness and oversized garments.”

At Academy of Art, Haydee Quesedo was fitting her model into a flamenco-inspired ruffled denim skirt as other designers and instructors bustled around the studio with sewing needles between their lips. While most of her fellow designers have five or six looks, Quesedo is aiming for 12.

“I work here in the studio from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., eat, sleep and come back,” she laughed. Quesado’s flamenco denim is just one of the looks that will debut on three different runways from fashion students at CCA, SFSU and Academy of Art University, which have a mixture of undergraduate and graduate design programs showcasing their work.

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Designers like Academy of Art student Jagmehak have been at their studios all day, every day for weeks now. On a recent Thursday afternoon, Jagmehak was sorting through folds of deep fuchsia silk that she’d sourced from India and custom dyed to her desired hue.

The runway shows mark the culmination of the designers’ studies and offer audiences (and fashion lovers) a glimpse at what the next generation has in store for our closets. Based on their mood boards and mannequins, we can expect playful color combos, deconstructed menswear and immaculate craftsmanship.


The San Francisco State University fashion show, PULSE Runway 2024, takes place May 9, 6–8:30 p.m. at 1 N State Dr., San Francisco. Find tickets to the SFSU event here.

The California College of the Arts fashion show takes place May 10, 2024, 5–8 p.m. at 1111 8th St., San Francisco. Find tickets to the CCA event here.

The Academy of Art University fashion show takes place May 16, 2025 at 3 p.m. at 1849 Washington St., San Francisco. Find tickets to the Academy of Art event here.

Stay tuned for reviews of the three runway shows as a part of Fit Check, a series about style and personal expression in the Bay Area.

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