UI’s Walk It Out multicultural organization to return with live fashion show

After a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19, the Walk It Out multicultural organization returns with an in-person fashion show on April 9 at the Iowa Memorial Union.


Lillie Hawker

Naa Adjeiwa Tackie, the owner of Nana’s African Boutique, stands next to dresses from North Africa and West Africa in her store in Iowa City on Thursday, April 7, 2022. Tackie provided clothing from her store for Walk It Out.

Jami Martin-Trainor, Arts Reporter

Through song, music, and fashion, the University of Iowa’s multicultural fashion show, Walk It Out, shares culture with students and community members in the Iowa City area. The show will take place on April 9 in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union.

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the organization’s founding in 2009. Because of COVID-19-related restrictions, this will be the organization’s first in-person show since 2019.

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Each year, the student populations determine what groups are represented in the show depending on what cultures have students that are willing to lead each section. Amna Haider, president of Walk It Out, said that the groups vary from year to year depending on who is involved with the organization.

Native American, East Asian, Latin American, African, and South Asian, as well as LGBTQ+ and Hip Hop are seven different cultures that will be showcased this year through Walk It Out.

“This is the first time we’ve had a Native American group since, I believe, the 2018 show,” Haider said. “As long as we have the people power to represent these groups, they’re more than welcome to be part of the show.”

Haider has been involved with Walk It Out since 2018. Before the organization had to halt in-person shows in 2020, Haider was able to model with the organization.

Now, as a senior, Haider has taken on more of the group’s responsibilities. Through her increased involvement over the years, she has been able to build strong relationships across campus. Haider and others in the organization have been able to make meaningful connections through Walk It Out, which Haider said is an important part of the group.

“We made so many friends with so many different people that are from different corners of campus, including different folks represented from each cultural group,” Haider said. “In terms of uniting underrepresented students on campus and creating community, I think that’s why this fashion show is so important.”

The runway show is meant to educate the UI student body on different cultures that are represented on campus. Mastura Ibnat, the vice president of Walk It Out, said that as a predominately white institution, it is important to have multicultural events at the UI.

“It matters exactly how you present culture to people at a PWI,” Ibnat said. “Doing it in this very fun, palatable way where people can experience things that are very unifying — things like dance, fashion, and music.”

Several local businesses support Walk It Out through various means. Vice and COPE Apparel are two Iowa City businesses that are sponsoring the Hip Hop group by donating clothing for models to wear.

Nana’s African Boutique is also supporting the show bydonating and selling clothing to the African group in Walk It Out. Naa Adjeiwa Tackie is the owner of the Iowa City business and is a graduate of the UI Tippie College of Business.

Tackie has also helped out the organization in 2012, 2018, and 2019. She said that the longevity of clothing is what initially drew her to clothing and fashion as a marker of culture.

Through her time at the university, Tackie has been able to see representation evolve and grow over the years.

“When I started [school at] the University of Iowa in 2005, there were very few Africans and very few People of Color to begin with,” Tackie said. “To see that there’s enough of them to where we’re now able to showcase culture, you know, if there’s something I can do to promote that, why not?”

Nearly a year ago, Tackie’s business faced the risk of closure due to eviction charges. Through community support and Tackie’s own perseverance, her business was able to stay open and continue serving the Iowa City community.

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Giving back to the people who supported her during those trying times was essential to Tackie. As a symbol of strength for other business owners, Tackie said that she wants to uplift the diverse communities in Iowa City and inspire others.

“Not only have I recovered, I’m back up to speed and actually helping my university and contributing,” Tackie said. “I’m giving back, somehow in some way, to both my school and my community.”

Celebration is meant to be the main focus of the show. Organizers Haider and Ibnat both attested to the ultimate goal of Walk It Out — presenting culture as something fun for everyone to appreciate.

“Those are pretty universally loved and appreciated aspects of culture,” Ibnat said. “It’s quite important that we do something like a runway show, just because, of course, culture ultimately is very fun, and we might as well showcase that to people.