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Have you noticed anything about Charlotte lately? The people here are getting a whole lot trendier. Gone are the days of jeans and Walmart, here are the days of boutiques and haberdasheries.


Have you noticed anything about Charlotte lately? The people here are getting a whole lot trendier. Gone are the days of jeans and Walmart, here are the days of boutiques and haberdasheries. The once cute little southern town in North Carolina now boast a population of nearly 1 million people, and according to recent report done by the University of North Carolina, more than 2000 of the people moving here a year are from the Big Apple. It’s no wonder the fashion industry in Charlotte is growing. But wait, you didn’t know Charlotte had a fashion industry? You aren’t alone. A recent blog post submitted anonymously to CLT models blog site titled “What’s Wrong with the Fashion Industry in Charlotte” has everyone around town talking about the state of fashion in the QC. Below, one exert from the blog, reflects just what a lot of individuals in Charlotte feel.


“Fashion Industry?” WAIT?!?? Charlotte has a FASHION INDUSTRY?!??!? All the time I hear people say “the Fashion Industry in Charlotte is growing,” but I have to strongly disagree. What I have observed is a bunch of People/Companies/Organizations taking advantage of Models, HMUAs, Photographers and Community support to further their own personal financial gain.” -Industry Insider

CLT Model Blog Post By definition an industry is defined as the production of goods or services within an economy. The major source of revenue of a group or company is the indicator of its relevant industry.

When Level 21 Magazine was first introduced to the Charlotte fashion scene we were surprised and elated to find out just how talented and gifted the models, artist, photographers and designers here were. However, underneath the excitement, we were troubled to discover that many people in the area didn’t know there was even a fashion scene and or that the fashion scene here was working hard to help local charities prosper. In fact, the real “pink elephant” on the runway is that hardly anyone in this growing industry is actually earning any money. By definition, an industry cannot survive in an economy that is not growing. We set out to understand why such a thriving trade was failing despite its popularity. What we uncovered was a disconnected community. At the heart of the division lies an industry separated as either for or against one company in particular “Charlotte Seen” and its owner Rita Miles.

Excerpt from the blog: Charlotte Seen with its “Producer & Friends”: These individuals con Models into walking in their shows with the promise of free images or experience for their careers or that a Model Scout is coming to see them.  These particular individuals from Charlotte Seen pay NO ONE.  Everyone is either a volunteer or intern: The Models, Photographers, Back of House, EVERYONE (except for “The Producers & Friends”).  They get “Sponsors” to commit money to the show under the pretense that they will be donating money to a Charity. Yes, the Charity will receive some money but the question is, how much? The public is never made aware of this amount, yet they profit anywhere in the tens of thousands of dollars.  Are you freaking kidding me?  (I don’t know about you but $20K for a title Sponsor, $1K-$10K for the other Sponsors and not paying for else, smells like a hella profit to me.)  You profit that much & you can’t pay, let alone feed your Models?  These poor Models sit in hair and makeup for up to 11 hours in preparation for the show.  Don’t you think that some sort of monetary compensation should be in order?  And not a few promised photos from Photographers who aren’t even being paid.  I’m talking $$$, money, bills, cash, inero, funds, ends, etc.  Yet, these individuals/Fashion Show Producers can go on luxury vacations and publicize it all over social media about what a good time they’re having.  It is downright shameful and disgusting.  These Models, Volunteers, Hair/Makeup Artists put in so much time and effort to make your shows a success, and you can’t even pay them A DIME!!!!

Here’s a thought for all of you so-called Fashion Show Producers & Companies/Organizations that claim to want to bring a bigger Fashion presence to the Charlotte area & make it another East Coast Fashion Capital. Instead of fighting amongst yourselves, burning bridges & disappointing people in the hopes of gross personal financial gain, how about working together & actually doing what you tell people you are trying to do.  In the long run, WHEN the Charlotte area does reach that Fashion Capital status, EVERYONE will benefit from it.

The anonymous blogger was not alone in their thought process, as some of the readers responding to the blog weighed in with their concerns on social media.


LaVonndra Johnson: “Oh wow! I could go on and on about this post, but simply put, I agree with the article. As for the Charlotte fashion scene . . . . . what fashion scene??? There isn’t a fashion scene if we’re candidly honest about this topic. There is a social scene in which fashion events are created under the guise of being fashion/runway shows.”

Daniel Worthington Smith: “Wow these points are eye openers. Sadly there seems to be unprofessionalism  on both sides, including the models, there has been a lot of cases where the actions, drama, and words from “certain people” have left a really bad impression on me. We need to get it together as a whole before its to late.”

Antoinne Duane Jones “From an outsider looking in its amazing how blatant the disregard for fashion professionals has been in a market with such potential.Stop bickering and squash all the feuding. With that being said, I personally wouldn’t EVER work with the Charlotte Seen folks EVER AGAIN!! But to end in a good note. Talent is all around in Charlotte! I have had the opportunity to encounter so many gifted people. Do what I do, travel more. See what the rest of the Southeast has to offer then return to Charlotte and help implement change!! ”

Anna via Twitter: “I ask Rita to model in this years show for Charlotte Seen and She said I had to pay a 45.00 fee!! Oh no gone too far!”


THIS is what Rita Miles Had to Say about it all.

Now, as we know that there are two sides to every story. We decided to reach out to the center of the controversy, Charlotte Seen and its owner Rita Miles. She was happy to confront every issue at hand.

What is Charlotte Seen and why did you start Charlotte Seen fashion week?

Rita: Charlotte Seen was formed 5 years ago to give a platform for emerging designers and models to be seen, and to help charitable organizations.

Now I know you are aware of this “Anonymous” Blog post. So the first question is do you know who wrote it?

Rita: Yes I believe I do, well my board definitely does, I mean I could throw stones, but why? It got us in the press. You know what they say. There is no bad press. You know I have never met such shady people in my life. You try to bring people along and they steal from you or do unethical things behind your back. You let them go and then they want to write bad about you or go start their own things. Which is fine but don’t bash me because you were wrong.

So how are you able to produce such large productions? Do you pocket the money? Does it really go to charity?

Rita: #1 Charlotte Seen doesn’t make a bit of money from our shows. We are contracted with charities and we fulfill our obligations. How do you think we are able to keep doing this? I make money from other business ventures.

What is the Purpose of these shows?

Rita: Our purpose has always been to give a platform to upcoming models and designers. You mentioned Models.

Some say you don’t pay your models or any one for that matter. Give us the real on this issue.

Rita: When it comes to the models we give all of our models an additional 2 free tickets to the show worth $100. But no one wants to write about that! So technically they do get paid. Our hair and makeup volunteer and media is complementary. We are not New York and we are not Paris. We are Charlotte. With Charlotte scene models are able to build portfolios and gain experience to get to New York and Paris. You know what.. I could let everyone have it their way and only let 20 models walk and pay them. Instead we give an opportunity for 90 girls to be seen. We also have private V.I.P shows in which we do pay everyone involved but that is not open to the public. What I love to see is the parents who come to me and thank me for giving their 15 or 16 year old a opportunity to model. We also had a few photographers tell us that you would invite them to cover and show. Make empty promises and then simply vanish. Is this true? Rita: Well that’s not true my number is the same. If anyone has a problem with me or how we do things call and talk with me like adults and we can solve the problem. Media has always been complementary. But I have allowed photographers at some events and people pay for the photos. But that money goes to the photographer not me.

Are you looking to change the way things are done with Charlotte Seen in terms of compensation?

Rita: Yes absolutely! I won’t make promises but we have some things in the works.

What do you think is actually needed to make Charlotte an actual fashion Industry?

Rita: We need to stop the bicker and the fighting and come together. Once again we may not be New York or Paris. But we are Charlotte. We can have our own Fashion Industry.


Now that the Pink Elephant is off the runway, and hearing Rita’s side of the story, we wondered what could be done to mend the relationships within the fashion scene in the Queen City to form one united fashion industry that is functional and prosperous for all. What is the Solution? Is it too much to ask for us to come together? As of right now we have Charlotte Seen fashion week, Charlotte International Style Week, NC Fashion Week, Charlotte Lingerie Week. The weeks go on and on. We just don’t have time to mention them all. Wouldn’t you think it would create massive revenue for charlotte to build one reputable integrated fashion industry were all the individual elements within the whole worked together cohesively to benefit all? Wouldn’t it make since for all 45 (excuse me) 7 fashion weeks to come together for the ultimate CHARLOTTE FASHION week housing all the different runway show productions all in one great week of fashion. The money that could be made would be phenomenal! One Unforgettable fashion week each year. Not only for the fashion scene but for Charlotte period. There is only one CIAA, only one Race week. So it is possible. Maybe it’s a dream. But it doesn’t have to be.

If everyone involved in all the hullabaloo, put their pride and past hurt aside, learned to forgive and move forward we could accomplish something great to shift the commerce here in Charlotte. We could give Atlanta a run for its money as the new fashion capital of the South. Proverbs 16:18 says. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

All it takes is that one phone call, that one apology, that one step forward; Everyone could do what they love and support themselves at the same time. Now, these are just our thoughts. While it won’t cure world peace, it may help heal a city divided against itself. And while we were unable to cover every single problem the QC faces in rising to the top of the fashion game, we heard from industry heads on every single topic in the blog post in just one story.

Sound off with you opinions and suggestions below!  Follow us on social media and use the hashtag #ritavseverybody. We would love to hear from you!

Twitter: level 21 magazine Fb: Level 21 Magazine Instagram: @level21mag LETS MAKE CHARLOTTE GREAT!


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