Charleston Fashion Week has a new presenting sponsor -- The Art Institute of Charleston.

Mayor Joe Riley made the announcement at a news conference Monday amid racks of chunky knits, striped T-shirts and fashion-forward dresses at Hampden Clothing on King Street.

He also thanked those who make Charleston Fashion Week possible, calling its economic impact "huge."

"It's a $1.7 million direct boost to the local economy," Riley said. "People come from far and wide."

The average attendee spends $5,000 on fashion during fashion week, and the event "further puts us on the map as a unique place in America where you can come and you can walk and see a variety of shops and stores unrivaled by anything in our country," Riley said.

Rick Jerue, president of the Art Institute of Charleston, said one of the reasons the school wanted to sponsor Charleston Fashion Week is its benefit to students.

"It's just a tremendous educational opportunity for them to understand what it is to put on something like Charleston Fashion Week, and to work with models and to work with designers and to work with putting on a big production like this."

Charleston Fashion Week is still owned and managed by Charleston Magazine, and the publication's style editor, Ayoka Lucas, provided a sneak peek into the fifth annual event, set for March 22-26 at Marion Square.

As in previous years, it will include multiple runway shows, after parties, and the Rock the Runway Model Competition. The popular Emerging Designer Competition is back but with some changes: the contest accepted entries from the entire East Coast instead of just the Southeast, and different designers will be showcased each evening instead of all in the same night.

This year's charitable partners are Center for Women and Lowcountry AIDS Services.

For tickets and more information, visit www.charlestonfashionweek.com.