FASHION MARCHES ON: FALL 2021 COLLECTIONS PART ONE

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Prabal Gurung and looks from his Fall 2021 collection modeled by members of POSE. (Photo Credit: Lexie Moreland for WWD)

The Fall 2021 season is shaping up to be a promising one. In the United States the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped significantly, and many experts predict that by the fall, thanks to the vaccines, increased testing, masks, and social distancing, we should reach herd immunity. So, with the promise of normalcy on the horizon, designers are embracing a joyful and vibrant approach to their fall 2021 collections.

NEW YORK, THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS

(Video credit: Jason Wu)

New York Fashion Week kicked off on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th with Jason Wu’s live, in-person show, and ended on the 17th as per the American Collections Calendar released by the CFDA (formally known as the New York Fashion Week schedule). So, after all this time, why did CFDA chairman Tom Ford rename the official New York Fashion Week schedule to the “American Collections Calendar”? Ford stated it was to reflect the growing number of American designers showing later in the season or in locations outside of New York. Tom Ford was suppose to close out the New York season, but his digital show date was pushed back due to unforeseen circumstances related to the pandemic.

Like the spring 2021 season, many fashion designers are debuting their fall collections by means of livestreams, lookbooks, presentations and other digital methods including the CFDA’s digital platform Runway360; a stark contrast from the large-scale, in-person productions that had been the norm prior to the deadly pandemic. The designers who have opted to show this season are an array of young designers, contemporary brands, and high-end designers that included: Prabal Gurung,  Veronica Beard, Alice + Olivia, Markarian, Tadashi Shoji, Badgley Mischka, Anna Sui, Monse, Adeam, Victor Glemaud, Rodarte, Tanya Taylor, Anne Klein, Dennis Basso, Cinq à Sept, Jonathan Simkhai, Bibhu Mohapatra, Nicole Miller, Rebecca Minkoff and Christian Cowan. As you can see, there were many established brands who decided not to participate in NYFW including: Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Brandon Maxwell, Tommy Hilfiger, Christopher John Rogers, Pyer Moss and Tory Burch.

According to WWD, IMG is furthering its alliance with the Black in Fashion Council by supporting Black fashion designers during New York Fashion Week. The two organizations are setting up showrooms in New York City and Los Angeles to showcase designs from Black fashion designers, which can be viewed in person, by-appointment throughout fashion week. Brands featured in the showrooms include Beads Byaree, Chelsea Paris, Chuks Collins, EDAS, House of Aama, Kendra DuPlantier, Maris Wilson, Michel Men, Nicole Benefield, Third Crown, Theophilio and Whensmokeclears.

Looks from Maris Wilson’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Marissa Wilson)

Even TikTok is getting in on Fashion Month as the social media platform teamed up with IMG Fashion and provided editorial content to the TikTok community. The initiative will run through New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks, where TikTok users will be able to view live fashion shows and previously recorded videos on the TikTok accounts @FashionWeek, @NYFW and @MADE.

From Left to Right: Lazaro Hernandez, Ella Emhoff, and Jack McCollough, backstage at the Proenza Schouler Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Hunter Abrams)

But the biggest news that came out of New York Fashion Week, was the emergence of Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, making her debut on the Proenza Schouler runway.  Ella Emhoff, the curly-haired, bespectacled grad student/model made a bigger splash than any fall 2021 trend, though there were a few of those, most noteworthy chunky knitwear and slouchy suiting. According to a New York Times article, the designers behind the Proenza Schoular label, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, liked Ella’s look, they told her during a Zoom preview; but they also liked that Ella was a student at New York City’s Parsons, the duo were notable alumni of the fashion school. Ella is a crafty knitwear designer and just created several one-of-a-kind pieces which she introduced to the fashion world.

(Video credit: Proenza Schouler)

As for the Proenza Schouler collection, the design duo raised the bar as they combined their effortlessly cool tailoring in jersey, wool, and leather with tactile details such as macramé and crochet inserts, silk fringe, and dip-dyed hems. There was also a nod to effortless layering – so everything was off-centered and unexpected – such as layers of slip dresses that were actually a single garment. The collection also had plenty of terrific jackets that can be either uncinched or cinched to create a cocooning shape that was oh so chic.

BREAKOUT STARS

As for the few high-profile designers who presented during New York Fashion Week there were plenty of young designers and brands who really stood out this season. Here are a few:

BATSHEVA

The singer Adeline in her kitchen, wearing a dress from the Batsheva fall 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Alexei Hay)

Coming up with innovative ways to digitally present your brand can be a challenging one. But Batsheva Hay, the designer behind her namesake label Batsheva, found a solution that her audience can relate to. The designer and her photographer husband, Alexei Hay, began to photograph people cooking their favorite meals in their kitchen wearing Batsheva’s designs. The concept is so simple yet it really connected and stands out in a sea of lookbook images. Muses included Ego Nwodim, Nicky Hilton, Amy Fine Collins, and Maude Apatow, each offering a distinct take on clothing and cooking.

Hay’s concept of allowing women to wear her creations in their own world is a perfect recipe for the brand. As for the clothes, there were plenty of looks that are appropriate for today’s reality – pretty, yet comfortable. Hay’s effortless prairie dresses have plenty of girlie options with sweet ruffles, rocker crushed velvet, and dainty bow motifs.

Hay also introduced denim for the first time, as she created two options with ruffled trim and elastic waists, perfect to pair back to her crafty knitwear collection.

COLLINA STRADA

Collina Strada’s morphing collection. (Photo Courtesy of Collina Strada)

Having a sense of humor definitely lifts spirits during troubling times, especially during a global pandemic. So props to Hillary Taymour, the designer behind the buzz-worthy label Collina Strada, as she presents one of the most playful and fun digital presentations to date. For her fall 2021 collection, Taymour had the idea of turning humans into animals to offer a sense of relief and joy. The young and creative designer partnered with the illustrator of the Animorphs book series, David Burroughs Mattingly, and collaborators Charlie Engman and Freeka Tet, to make graphics that transform her cast of star models like Aaron Philip, Ruby Aldridge, Jeremy O. Harris, and Kathleen McCain Engman into cats, peacocks, praying mantises, and even a balloon dog. The lightheartedness is hard earned; throughout the year-long pandemic, Taymour has not only continued to push herself to create environmentally-minded collections using leftover materials and recycled fabrics, but she was also one of the first to create masks for sale and for healthcare workers.

MARKARIAN

A look from Markarian’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Markarian)

Every designer dreams of having their creations worn by a celebrity and gaining instant fame and sales along the way. Well on January 20, 2021, that dream became a reality for Alexandra O’Neill, as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden wore the young designer’s label Markarian on inauguration day. The First Lady of the United States wore a full look from Markarian: a custom cerulean tweed dress and matching coat trimmed with pearls and velvet cuffs. On a Zoom call with Vogue Runway, O’Neill said her social media following doubled instantly, and the e-tailer Moda Operandi reported a 570 percent spike in traffic to Markarian pieces within 24 hours. Overnight the label went from relative obscurity to international news. It was a reminder of how deeply women care about what First Ladies wear—and how influential their choices can be. Michelle Obama boosted the profile of many young American designers in her day.

The label Markarian is anything but casual. O’Neill is known to create beautiful wedding dresses and red-carpet worthy gowns. So the challenge for the creative young designer has been how to merge elegant clothing and work-from-home wear. For fall 2021, O’Neill struck the perfect balance of glamourous at home looks, case in point, a brocade robe dress. She also showcased recycled cashmere knits that were oh so glam with attached shawls that you can effortlessly toss over your shoulder, as well as a darling pointelle stitch midi-dress.

But O’Neill’s customers are feeling optimistic and are shopping on Moda for her more fanciful pieces such as an LBD with “firework” crystal embellishments and full skirts with built in corsets. Let the good times begin!

A.POTTS

Looks from A. Potts Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Gregory Wilkstrom)

Aaron Potts, the designer behind his namesake label A. Potts, offers a chic, genderless collection that captures the essence of approachable elegance. Although Potts’s silhouettes veer towards couture —cocooning shapes, layered coats, and full-skirted gowns—they are joyous and fun. According to Potts, the secret has to do with the fabrics and colors he chose for the season: yellow and gray pieces rendered in tissue-weight jersey; wool; faux foil leather; and a fluffy ‘mauxhair,’ as he calls his faux mohair. In an interview with Vogue Runway, he described a need for optimism and creativity. “The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t cliché,” he said. “It’s necessary.”

To bring his vision to life, Potts cold-emailed Yannick Lebrun, a dancer at Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, who helped cast fellow dancers Khalia Campbell, Fana Tesfagiorgis, and James Gilmer in the lookbook and film. The performers are the perfect complement to the clothing, showing its brilliance without obscuring their own. Looks ranged from a horsehair-trimmed gown to  ombré plaid outerwear. Overall, the collection was effortlessly chic and modern.

BEVZA

A look from Bevza’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Bevza)

Svetlana Bevza is the Ukranian designer behind her namesake label Bevza. The indie label is known for its take of sexy ‘90s minimalism and has gained a celebrity fan base which include Emily Ratajkowski and Gigi Hadid. But for Fall 2021 the designer switched decades and was inspired by the ‘70s aesthetic. Beva worked her minimal aesthetic into fringed capes, flared jeans, and bohemian inspired headbands worn across the forehead; it’s a bit on a rebel spirit in the most polished way.

Bevza also paid homage to her native Ukraine as she looked to Olga of Kyiv, who ruled in the 10th century, for inspiration. The knit balaclavas were inspired by Olga, but the designer paired the traditional headwear with matching blazers and over the knee boots for a modern edge. Bevza also included an image of the ‘spikelet,’ a symbol of good harvest and an optimistic year, and let’s face it, after living through a global pandemic for a year now, we can all use some optimism.

LONDON’S CALLING

Molly Goddard is well known for her daring otherworldly confections. Here is a look from her Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Ben Broomfield)

London Fashion Week took place from Feb. 19th – 23rd. The Fall 2021 season was entirely digital as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a third national lockdown for England amid a surging Covid-19 outbreak driven by a U.K. variant in early January.

This further lockdown is incredibly challenging for businesses, freelancers and individuals,” Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, said in a statement. “Our industry is one of amazing creativity and this is more true in the U.K. than any other country. The majority of businesses and individuals we work with are independent businesses and creatives who contribute significantly to the cultural and creative reputation of our country.”

The BFC continues to ask Government to engage in support of the fashion industry,” Rush said. “One of the main active requests is to allow key creative and model talent to travel to and from the U.K. with a phased introduction of quarantine exemptions for the fashion industry, in order to carry out essential business, to protect the competitiveness of the British fashion industry.”

London Fashion Week took place on www.londonfashionweek.com, a digital platform, where people could access not just the collections that would typically debut on a runway or at a presentation, but also additional multi-media content, including interviews with designers, podcasts and e-commerce.

The season was billed as the first “gender-neutral” digital fashion week, but it turned out to be more like a mixed-gender than gender-neutral.

THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Kudos to London Fashion Week for always embracing young designers and Indie brands. Here are a few of our favorites.

EDELINE LEE

For her digital premiere, Edeline Lee opened with an introduction in her own voice: “Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning that lives in our clothes, the nostalgia and memories that we attach to our clothing,” she said, before sharing a short story and urging her listeners to put on their headphones and close their eyes. It was a great attempt at storytelling, but with so many digital presentations to view, the video ran on a tad too long.

The piece tells the story of Georgia, a woman downloading her memory bank to a ‘program’ without a name but a model number, and an option to name her—Georgia calls her Lynne after a friend who is a good listener. The story centers around a memory of her mother twirling in front of the mirror in her favorite malachite-colored dress, how it was intended to be worn to Georgia’s wedding, but instead her mother was buried in it, but she would have found it fun wearing ‘a great dress to a terrible party.’ “I wanted to explore how digitally we can touch people,” said Lee in an interview with Vogue Runway. “How do you give someone an experience online—a human experience? We are always separated by a screen, and it made me think about how clothes are on the surface, too, but what do they really mean… this storytelling touched that nerve at a deeper level… I don’t know, maybe lockdown is getting to me!” She laughed, but she had a point.

Lee built her brand on real clothes that women can live their lives in: drop off the kids, head to work, sit through a working lunch, and so on, but the best part is, nothing will wrinkle. Her best-selling piece is her flattering wrap dress that can be worn either loose or fitted. She had plenty of these effortless dresses, but she also added a series of separates for our new Work-from-Home lifestyle. Lee created tapered track pants, brush stroked jacquard tops, and a short sleeve dressing gown coat in piqué GOTS certified organic cotton (to that end, Lee has been working on more sustainable practices; all of her linings, trims, and packaging are sustainably sourced). “My pattern cutting is loosening up, I’m needing that comfort more and more,” she says. “My customers still need that great top for Zoom, but many of them are working from home, so they’re asking for this too.”

COLVILLE

A look from Colville’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Colville)

Molly Molloy and Lucinda Chambers, the duo behind the Colville label, were inspired by vases for their fall 2021 collection. But not just any vase, more specifically Murano glass vases that appeared in their lookbook, each one handmade by glassblowers in Italy. Molloy and Chambers launched their label in 2018. They stated that they work with feelings rather than strategy. Maybe this is why they instantly became insider favorites, with their sculptural earrings and handwoven wayuu bags.

The organic swirls of the Murano glass vases were echoed in the psychedelic marble print that emerged on silk sculpted dresses and matching leggings. Key looks ranged from a color-block piqué twinset to a hoodie spliced together from Nike sports gear. The duo also created wonderful vests patchworked from upcycled down puffer jackets. Molloy and Chambers also gave a nod to romance with a dress that was nipped and ruched at the waist in a style that was both sexy and forgiving. The duo also created plenty of ruffled detail tops and, for the first time, they introduced a lace top that was worn under a peplum bustier.

The collection had some neutrals but overall, there were plenty of bursts of color and prints, which will surely have their customers stand out during their next Zoom call.

YUHAN WANG

Looks from Yuhan Wang’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Yuhan Wang)

Bridgerton has become an extremely popular Netflix series especially among the fashion crowd, which is no surprise given the beautiful costumes and setting of the show. The costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick,  has done a phenomenal job recreating 18th century looks that are so regal and rich they are fit for a princess. So it should come as no surprise that many designers found themselves creating looks that would be perfect for the series, most noteworthy, Yuhan Wang. The designer created a pastel-hued, romantic, floral collection that you can picture in a Regency drawing room.

Before graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2018, Wang studied art in her homeland China.  “I paint landscapes,” she said on a Zoom call from her studio in London in an interview with Vogue Runway. “The painters created these fantasy-nature landscapes for noblemen to escape from the ordinary world. It was always done by men for men. So this season I wanted to make my own, for women and girls.”

Wang created charming watercolor landscape prints and embroideries for her collections, such as sika deer, pine trees, and delicate florals. These delightful patterns made their way onto her signature fluid draped dresses, as well as flared trousers and some peplum jackets trimmed with raw-edge fringe. Beautiful pieces for when we can all emerge back into normalcy. Soon, soon soon.

To quote poet, performer, model, and trans visibility activist Kai Isaiah Jamal, “We know anywhere can be a runway if your mind has something to walk down it.”

SO TELL US, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FALL 2021 SHOW THUS FAR?

Pandemicwear…a new fashion category?

Image credit: Naploungewear.com, Gentleherd.com and Onecozyday.com

We are thrilled to hear the news that Covid numbers are diminishing and vaccinations are on the rise. However, knowing that we’ll still need to take precautions, i.e. working from home, washing hands frequently and wearing masks until we reach herd immunity, possibly until sometime next fall, has some of us fashionistas thinking about what to add to our wardrobe in the interim.

Remember athleisurewear? That was the classification of merchandise that burst onto the fashion scene in the double aughts, that was a cross between sportswear and activewear. According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (authored by me, Francesca Sterlacci, and former FIT Dean, Joanne Arbuckle):

Athleisure became popular as a result of the yoga pant and leggings craze. This type of clothing, originally designed for working out, became suitable for wearing outside of the gym too. Brands like Lululemon popularized the look and other brands and retailers took notice. Cashmere sweatsuits and luxury workout gear soon found their way into both men’s and women’s wardrobes. An added benefit of wearing athleisurewear is that even if you don’t go to the gym, you can still look like you do. By 2016, athleisurewear entered the bespoke arena with Saville Row tailors showcasing items such as track suits.”

(Image credit: Cozy Earth)

But what about the merch category that preceded athleisurewear called ‘loungewear’? Those of a certain age will remember loungewear being worn around the house at a time when women had lots of leisure time (1950s), that is, before they got to have careers and were liberated in the 1970s.

Well, ‘loungewear’ as a category no longer seemed appropriate thanks to COVID-19. The fact is …home lockdown consists of remote working, teaching & learning, shopping and even Zoom socializing. There’s absolutely nothing ‘leisure’ about that, right?

Some of us have been wearing our PJs all day long, or sweatshirts and sweatpants. And we only feel the need to dress up, do our hair and our makeup if we have a Zoom business call. So, where’s the incentive to care about fashion?

(Image credit: Sew Sketchy)

Sew Sketchy, an illustrated New York fashion influencer created by artist Romy Schrieber, gets her quarantine-look right with her fashion preference for pajama-wearing, but will absolutely never forego her lavish painted nails and iconic sunglasses.

 

Pandemicwear Looks

(Image credit: Atritz.com)

After hours trolling the Internet, I am now seeing a new trend/category emerge that I’m calling, ‘pandemicwear’. When I Googled the word pandemicwear, the first thing that pops up was “Slob-Style Chic” (what to wear when there’s nobody to dress up for except your cat – and Zoom).

I don’t know about you but just knowing that there’ll be at least 5 more months of lockdown until we can all get vaccinated to achieve heard immunity, I’m needing a ‘fashion’ shot in the arm right about now. What I’ve researched is a trove of two-piece sets that are offered in a variety of fibers from cashmere and bamboo to silk blends, that can make you feel dressed up while you are still in lock down.

What I’ve laid out here is not to be considered influencer marketing, it’s just my personal opinion of what I might want to wear around my home to ‘feel’ dressed up without ‘being’ dressed up!

(Image credit: naploungewear.com)

Cashmere… how luxe can you get? I’ve been finding cashmere sets that are casual and chic and great for having to jump on a Zoom call.

(Image credit: Lellyan.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

And let’s not forget about footwear…. like these comfy slippers from The Frankie Shop that come in a variety of chic neutrals.  And the feather pom-pom slip-ons from Nap.

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

(Image credit: Nap.com)

Let’s all hope that we can all get vaccinated within the next few months because, let’s face it, there are so many other clothes in our closets that are feeling pretty neglected right about now.

Got a fav pandemicwear outfit that you’d like to share?

FORGET POLITICS…MADAM VP IS A STYLE ICON IN THE MAKING

(Left to Right) U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and President Joe Biden at their Inauguration.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris just completed their first weeks in office. While the dynamic duo has already brought about plenty of positive changes, they also amped-up the fashion quotient in D.C. Thanks to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and VP Kamala Harris, and finally, American young designers are once again at the forefront of the world fashion stage.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was a true champion of young American designers and during her eight years as First Lady she has worn everything from Jason Wu to Narciso Rodriguez, turning American designers into household names. American Designers created custom looks for the former First Lady and when she wore a young designer’s creation, the publicity was a dream-come-true. In 2016 when former President Trump took office, many designers disagreed with Trumps’ political stance, and declined to dress the former First Lady Melania Trump, so many of Melania Trump’s outfits were purchased, as opposed to being custom-created or gifted, as is tradition. While this was great for retailers, American designers suffered not being in the political limelight.

Doug Emhoff and Kamala Harris, in Altuzarra, as she accepted the nomination for the vice presidency at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo Credit: Win Mcnamee for Getty Images)

Thankfully, this will all change as the United States moves into a new era of leadership, all eyes will be on Vice President Harris to see what subtle statements she will make with her wardrobe choices. Throughout the campaign trail, Kamala Harris’ wardrobe remained consistent: a business-ready pantsuit or blazer worn with jeans; her shoe choices were also limited to her signature Converse sneakers or a classic pointed-toe pump. The VP also consistently wore her beloved accessory, a string of pearls, a sentimental tribute to her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University. Kamala Harris has broken down many barriers as she is the first female, Black, and South Asian-American Vice President of the United States.

AMERICA’S VP COVERGIRL

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the February print Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

VP Harris’ style has evolved greatly since the early days of her campaign trail. She has even graced the covers of prestigious fashion magazines, including Elle in November 2020 and the Vogue February 2021 cover that stirred up plenty of controversy involving the most powerful woman in fashion and the most powerful woman in the White House. Social media ran ramped with many accusing the Vogue cover as being “disrespectful”, but Ann Wintour originally described the cover as “joyful, casual, and accessible.”

On the print Vogue cover the VP is dressed in a dark brown jacket by Donald Deal, narrow black jeans, a white t-shirt, her signature Irene Neuwirth pearl necklaces, and trusty Converse sneakers. But the second Vogue cover which was digital, featured a closer-cropped photo of the VP wore a pale blue suit by Michael Kors.

Vice President Kamala Harris wears Michael Kors on the February digital Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

Many social media users argued that the Vice President should have been dresses more inspirational than casual.  When Kamala appeared on the cover of “Elle” in November, they captured her strength, warmth, intelligence, and beauty. She looked completely Vice Presidential. Sad that Vogue did not achieve those results in such a momentous moment in American history.

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the November 2020 Elle cover. (Photo Credit: Inez & Vinoodh)

According to Sway, people familiar with the matter on both sides said that there had been no contractual cover approval agreement in place, the cover image was not what the vice president’s team had expected. The day after the first photo leaked, a second — more formal — digital exclusive cover was also released. Ms. Wintour said in a follow-up statement to Sway, “Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice president-elect’s incredible victory.” In an exclusive interview on this episode of “Sway,” Ms. Wintour discusses the magazine cover, diversity concerns at Condé Nast, the future of the fashion industry.

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sway/id1528594034?i=1000505058648

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS’ STYLE EVOLUTION

Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion choices. (Photo Credit: Town & Country all Getty Images)

Through the years as a senator in California and on the campaign trail, VP Kamala Harris shied away from fashion. Her uniform consisted of muted pantsuits, blazers, skinny jeans, and her signature Converse sneakers and pearl necklaces. Her sartorial choices were meant to blend into the background while she fought for political change and policies that were dear to her heart.

Then Senator Kamala Harris grilling a Trump administration official in June, 2020. (Photo Credit: Pool for Getty Images)

But once Biden chose her as her running mate, Kamala Harris’ style began to evolve. For starters, Vice President Harris began to collaborate with Hollywood stylist Karla Welch, who is especially known for the perfectly imperfect off-duty looks she creates for her clients, a diverse crew that includes Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Karlie Kloss, Tracee Ellis Ross, and even Anita Hill. According to Town & Country, “Harris and Welch’s professional partnership is something of a secret—kinda open, kinda not. And neither camp returned emails requesting confirmation.”

During inauguration week, VP Harris’ sartorial choices where on point and rich with meaning, the most powerful woman in the United States wore looks create by designers of color, including Sergio Hudson, Prabal Gurung, Pyer Moss’s Kerby Jean-Raymond and Christopher John Rogers, whose brilliant purple coat and dress was accessorized with pearls by Puerto Rican designer Wilfredo Rosado on the day she was sworn in as Vice President of the U.S.

In a Town & Country interview with Robin Givhan, the only journalist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism, and who is now the Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large, chronicling politics, race and the arts stated, “On one hand, Harris’s clothes are straightforward and professional, especially while she was on the campaign trail. She looks like she could be walking into any major law firm, any Fortune 500 company. But I think there’s also this sort of inability to not discuss her clothes because of the historical nature of her position.”

Fashion is a way for people to get a little slice of Harris’s life and symbolism for themselves. It’s aspirational fashion in a new way. “I also just sort of worry to some degree that we are muddling the line between Vice President and First Lady,” says Givhan.

A First Lady she is not, but she is a first of so many achievements—first woman, first woman of color, first woman of South Asian descent, first daughter of immigrants to hold the office of vice president. So as the most powerful woman of the United States, should the public scrutinize over her sartorial choices? Naturally, her policies and what she does for the nation comes first, but there is nothing wrong with adding a little panache along the way.

Vice President Kamala Harris in Carolina Herrera (Left) and President Joe Biden (Right) on the night they accepted their victory. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Her rise to fashion stardom began in November, the night she took the stage alongside President Joe Biden and they accepted their victory as the newly elected President and Vice President of the United States. VP Harris carefully selected a creamy Carolina Herrera pantsuit and white silk pussy bow blouse, a nod to the suffragist movement, this look was analyzed across every form of media and many approved the look as it stood for how far women have come and she embodied power and beauty in her suit.  The public is watching what VP Harris wears so closely that there is already a useful website, WhatKamalaWore.com, by the journalist Susan E. Kelley, who also curates similar sites about Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s sartorial choices.

“I don’t think she needs to make a stand verbally, but I do think there are going to be expectations of her in her position as a woman,” says Peju Famojure, a stylist and fashion consultant who has styled Solange Knowles and consulted with Beyoncé in a Town & Country interview. “There are always expectations tied into women’s fashion choices. People would be happy to see her support brands that are made in America, but also Black-owned brands, giving them representation, not only from a visual standpoint, but also helping to drive monetary success.”

While VP Harris will want people to focus on her politics and not her clothes, as a history-making public figure, her sartorial choices are a part of the picture that many will focus on. So far, Harris’ outfits have been a lesson in a new form of power dressing: her suits and pointed-toe pumps convey an authoritative mindset, while the more casual Converse and jeans signify a relatable casualness, accessible and familiar to the average American.

U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Patrick T. Fallon via Getty Images)

On January 19th, the eve before the historic inauguration, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for a COVID memorial honoring and remembering the more than 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic so far.

Arranged along both sides of the Mall’s pool of reflection were hundreds of rectangles of light. “To heal we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember,” Biden said, “but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation…Let us shine the lights in the darkness…and remember all whom we lost.” His words were followed by a moment of silence. While the moment was somber and full of sorrow, there was also a sense of hope.

There is no doubt that the Biden administration will set a completely different tone than the Trump administration, it will also be a breath of fresh air on the fashion front as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both been championing young American designers and their sartorial choices have been polished, sophisticated, empowering, and bold.  The VP opted to wear a chic camel cashmere coat by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, which, appeared as a more traditional silhouette from the front, but the back turned revealed a curved shoulder seam that gave way to a flowing, pleated back. Kerby Jean-Raymond is a young Black designer who is likewise weaving purpose into his mission. On his runways, Jean-Raymond has addressed African American narratives in popular culture. In September of last year, he gathered PPE for hospital workers and provided $50,000 in grants for small businesses affected by the COVID crisis.

A back look of U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Harris also took to the podium the night of the COVID Memorial and said, “Tonight we grieve and begin healing together. Though we may be physically separated, we the American people are united in spirit. And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another.”

The Vice President chose Prabal Gurung the morning Inaugural Prayer Service. (Photo Credit: @SecondGentleman Instagram)

On January 20th, Inauguration Day, Vice President Kamala Harris began the day at a church service alongside President Biden and his family. Here she chose a look from Prabal Gurung, an American designer who was born in Singapore and grew up in Nepal. She looked stunning in a garnet-hued double-faced wool crepe dress with a matching coat.

As Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President, she wore a pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Shortly after Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States by Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice. Our first female VP wore a stellar coat and dress by Christopher John Rogers, a young Black designer, who’s known for his love of bold and vibrant colors and shapes, as well as her signature strand of pearls. Her coat and dress were elegant and chic, while purple symbolizes strength, royalty, hope, and a call for unity at a time of political division; after all, when you mix blue (democrat) and red (republican) together, the color purple is created. A fitting chose for our Vice President.

Wearing Sergio Hudson, VP Kamala Harris continued to show support for black designers at the Inaugural Concert. (Photo Credit: The New York Post)

Later that night, at the Celebrating America event, Vice President Kamala Harris championed another young black designer, Sergio Hudson, as she wore an elegant liquid sequin cocktail dress with a floor-length silk tuxedo overcoat, both in inky black—and topped off the look with Irene Neuwirth earrings.

Since winning the election Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion game has been strong, but we would love to see her step out of her comfort zone, but still be appropriate for her many meetings as VP.

So tell us, what looks would you like to see Vice President Kamala Harris wear?

The Power & Beauty of Fashion Illustration

- - Fashion Art

University of Fashion’s mission, from day one, has always been, ‘to preserve the art and craft of fashion design.’ In fact, since the company’s founding in 2008 our tagline has never changed, “Master Design One Step at a Time.”  Sure, we’ve added computer-generated fashion art and computerized pattern making lessons over the years, but at our core, we’re all about promoting a strong foundation, both ‘on-the-table’ pattern making and in ‘hand-drawn art’ before we recommend moving to anything computer-generated.

In this blogpost, we’d like to celebrate fashion illustration and its continued contribution to the world of fashion. We are extremely proud to share that our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, who owned and operated her eponymous brand in the 1980s, was lucky enough to have her work illustrated by THE most prolific WWD illustrators in what is now known as the ‘Golden Age of Fashion Illustration’ (1960s to the early 1990s).

As you admire the work of these illustrators, we’d like you to pay particular attention to the individual illustrative style of each and join us in celebrating their individual and unique talents.

Enjoy,

Francesca Sterlacci
Founder/CEO
University of Fashion

You can only imagine how over-the-moon excited we were when Women’s Wear Daily recently dedicated a week to the most prolific fashion illustrators who brought fashion to life on their pages before they replaced illustration with photography in the early 1990s. Although WWD incorporated fashion illustration from its inception in 1910, it was the 60s thru the early 90s that best describes the paper’s Golden Era of Illustration. WWD provided a showcase for some of the best illustrators in the fashion business and this blogpost is dedicated to those wonderful artists. Included in this group: Kenneth Paul Block, Antonio Lopez, Joe Eula, Richard Rosenfeld, Steven Stipelman, Robert Melendez, Robert Passantino, Glenn Tunstull, Kichisaburro Ogawa, Charles Boone, Steven Meisel and Catherine Clayton Purnell.

Kenneth Paul Block

(Image credit: Kenneth Paul Block illustration of a lace bodysuit and silk organza pants by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1988)

As a designer in the 1980s, having your designs chosen for WWD’s Best of New York issue was always a big deal, no matter how many times you were lucky enough to be included. And, if your work was illustrated by Kenneth Paul Block, well, that was an even bigger deal!

By far, Kenneth Paul Block (1925-2009) was the undisputed star of WWD’s roster of fashion illustrators. From all accounts, he was in a league of his own. Joining the paper in the 50s, Block’s legacy lasted into the early 90s when the illustration department at WWD was unceremoniously disbanded to make way for photography. Block’s style was uncomplicated, modern and fresh. A master of the graceful gesture, his style was a complete departure from the rigid illustrative style popularized in the 1940s.

(Image credit: archival image from 1940s illustrations)

According to WWD, Block was “known for his well turned-out, gentlemanly style, with his Dorian Gray-like youthfulness, Block dressed impeccably, favoring an ascot, fresh-pressed shirt, pinpoint perfect jackets and cigarette holders for his workdays at the easel. The artist, who died at age 84 in 2009, spent nearly four decades working at Women’s Wear Daily.”

Towards the end of his life, Block was very concerned that his body of work

be kept together and therefore gave approximately 1,700 drawings to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His work is also a part of the Frances Neady collection at the Fashion Institute of Technology which contains over 300 illustrations by the most prominent 20th-century illustrators. The Frances Neady collection is named for an inspiring and dedicated teacher of fashion illustration, who served on the faculties of FIT and Parsons for 40 years.

Upon his death, the Kenneth Paul Block Foundation was established and is devoted to collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the wealth of Kenneth Paul Block’s art, in order to highlight his contributions to the art form.

Robert Young

(Image credit: Robert Young illustration of a tiger print top and skirt by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1985)

Another favorite among New York designers was Robert Young. His style always brought out the best in your design. Today, Robert Young is an Assistant Professor of Illustration at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As is the case with most artists, Robert Young’s style and breadth of work has expanded with the times.

Be sure to check out his “Hello, Young Illustrators” portfolio series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGDfewj-V6Q which is especially helpful during the pandemic.

Robert Passantino

(Image credit: Robert Passantino illustration of a peplum blouse and pleated skirt by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1987)

As a fashion illustrator, Robert Passantino knew the value of actually learning the basics of clothing design and construction and how that would benefit his career when he started his career at Pratt Institute. He would later take illustration classes under Steven Stipelman at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who later would recommend him for a position at WWD in 1969.

In the recent article, Passantino told WWDI developed my style on the job. It was a fashion art boot camp. As an artist, the more you work on your art, the better you become.”

Charles Boone

(Image credit: Charles Boone illustration of a suede pants and leather tube top by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1987)

Kichisaburo Ogawa

(Image credit: Kichisaburo Ogawa illustration of a wool doubleknit dress and wide cinch belt by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1987)

Three days after graduating from FIT, Kichisaburo Ogawa went to work for WWD where he would spend the next 31 years illustrating fashion both at the paper and for numerous international magazines. In discussing what it was like to be an illustrator at WWD in those days Ogawa said, “Depending on the assignment, work was either due by the 2 p.m. deadline or the 6 p.m. deadline. After the daily editorial meeting, an editor would provide a designer’s sketch to draw from and the work would be due that same day. On some occasions the illustrator would be given a few extra days contingent on the article or the subject matter. A cosmetics cover, for example, was used for supplements, which allowed for more leeway with a longer deadline. Most of the time we had to finish within a few hours.” He also claimed that “You had to create your individual style. Otherwise, they would think, ‘Why are you doing the same type of illustration? You don’t need to work here.”

Later in his career Ogawa connected with another WWD fashion illustrator, Richard Rosenfeld, who was his office mate when they both taught at FIT. Today, Ogawa is an assistant professor at Parsons.

Steven Meisel

(Image credit: Steven Meisel illustration of a leather T-shirt by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1982)

Steven Meisel started out as a WWD fashion illustrator in the 80s but made the move to photography when he saw a shift away from illustration coming. In fact, famed fashion illustrator Bil Donovan took an illustration class at Parsons taught by Meisel in the Eighties right before Meisel embarked on his very successful photography career.

(Image credit: Bil Donovan illustration of a leather coat trimmed in tapestry by Francesca Sterlacci for Siena- 1991)

Catherine Clayton Purnell

(Image credit: Catherine Clayton Purnell illustration of a metallic leather trimmed linen shirt paired with a leather skirt by Francesca Sterlacci WWD 1985)

One of only a handful of females in a sea of male fashion illustrators at WWD, Purnell was most known for her colorful fantasy-filled intimate, children’s and swimwear illustrations in the 80s.

(Image credit: Catherine Clayton Purnell from the book WWD Illustrated: 1960s-1990s by Michele Wessen Bryant)

Steven Stipelman

(Image credit: Steven Stipelman illustration of draped back blouse and leather skirt by Francesca Sterlacci 1985)

With a passion for illustration that began at Music & Art high school in Manhattan and continued awhile a student at FIT, Stipelmen would land a plumb job alongside Kenneth Paul Block at WWD in 1965. While most artists at WWD worked from a designer’s sketch when illustrating for the paper, Block and Stipelman would mostly work from live models and were sent to Paris to draw from the runways. Today, Steven Stipelman is a full professor at FIT.

Richard Rosenfeld

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld for WWD)

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld)

While UoF founder Francesca never had the honor of having Richard Rosenfeld sketch her designs during his tenure at WWD, we are fortunate in that he is one of our very own instructors on the UoF site, Congratulations to Richard for being included among this elite WWD group.

Richard Rosenfeld found his way to WWD as a student at Parsons in 1967. His illustration style has always been contemporary, graphic and modern and is most famous for his beauty and bridal illustrations. His illustrations often made the gowns more beautiful than they actually were in real life!

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld for WWD)

Today, Richard focuses on portraits and male figurative art and exhibits his work at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, which showcases gay, transsexual and lesbian art. According to Richard, the art featured at the gallery is “political, it’s photography — it’s all of that.”

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld)

Can Fashion Illustration Make a Comeback?

At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, art and photo teams at WWD had to rely heavily on illustration and collages to cover fashion, as New York City went into lockdown and shoots were impossible to schedule. A small glimmer of hope for the fans of fashion illustration?

At University of Fashion, we are ardent supporters of helping keep fashion illustration alive, which is why we have recruited some of the best illustrators in the business, Richard Rosenfeld, Steven Broadway and Roberto Calasanz. These extremely talented artists have generously shared their secrets by allowing us to film their art and skill in action. Watch as they bring a 2D sketch to life. It’s pure joy!

And so, to all of you aspiring fashion designers out there who love to illustrate, don’t let the digital age get you down, keep on perfecting your craft. Remember, practice makes perfect!

 

Let us know, do you have a favorite fashion illustrator?

Meet MOTIF: An Online Fashion Industry Education Hub

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Since our founding in 2008, the University of Fashion has always recruited the best instructors from the best fashion colleges, such as FIT and Parsons, to teach our lessons. And, because we film in New York City, the fashion capital of the world, we have been able to tap the brain trust of our industry for our design and business lessons.

Going on 13 years now, we have partnered with the best dress form companies in the business (Alvanon and Wolf) and collaborated with several top tool and fabric suppliers as well as other industry resources (and the list is growing).

When we decided to add affordable computerized pattern making lessons, we forged a partnership with Tukatech so that we could offer a special, affordable rate to our subscribers.

Promoting another school’s content on our site may have seemed like a bad business decision, but our recent partnership with Upcycle Design School now provides our subscribers the opportunity to learn how to start their own sustainable fashion brand.

So, it therefore comes as no surprise that we are introducing our subscribers to MOTIF, a new learning platform aimed at the working fashion professional. I recently had the opportunity to interview Catherine Cole, MOTIF’s CEO, about their mission, the results of their survey on the skill level needs of the industry, and other relevant topics that affect today’s fashion and textile industry.

Our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, recently interviewed Catherine to learn more about MOTIF and their unique and much needed learning platform.

Catherine Cole – MOTIF CEO (Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: MOTIF is a relatively new fashion industry learning platform, can you give some background as to when and why it was founded and what role Alvanon played in its inception?

Catherine: The fashion industry is going through major disruption caused by changes in consumption patterns, increasing cost pressures, speed-to-market pressures, unwieldy and fragmented supply chains and then having to play catch up in things like sustainability and digitisation. These disruptions are making a growing skills gap more and more evident. The last generation that has production floor expertise is retiring in the next 5-10 years and add to that an urgent need for the next generation of skills that include data, 3D product design and development and digital marketing. MOTIF was started to meet the urgent need by fashion brands and other players in the supply chain, for an ability to onboard new employees effectively and upskill current employees. Originally an intrapreneurial venture within global innovations company Alvanon, MOTIF officially launched in October 2018 with a suite of online courses on motif.org, before becoming a separate legal entity in April 2019. Since then, we have received $2m in funding from The Mills Fabrica.

Francesca: What has been the impact of Motif’s recent increase in funding?

Catherine: The increased funding allowed us to launch new social and community features alongside our courses and also develop authoring tools for partners (experts across the industry) to launch their own courses in our marketplace. We continually strive to enhance our features and are building a state-of-the- art learning environment for our users.

Francesca: Is Motif’s learning platform offered to individuals as well as to school libraries?

Catherine: MOTIF’s courses are aimed at both individual professionals in the industry as well as corporate HR or business teams that need to make sure their workforce is equipped with sound fundamentals and cross-functional understanding. These courses cover technical skills as well as commercial and soft skills for the apparel / fashion industry. We publish our own courses and also distribute courses of partner publishers. These partners can range from academic institutions like LIM College, to organisations fostering the adoption of business best practices and technical standards in the industry such as WRAP, and even independent seasoned industry experts such as Roz McNulty who is teaching a series of superuser courses from beginner to advanced level on CLO 3D on MOTIF.  Currently our courses are also used by professors who are looking to supplement their teaching with course material taught by practitioners.

Catherine Cole – MOTIF CEO at 2018 Summit (Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Alvanon conducted an industry survey back in 2018 entitled, The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry, and shared the results at a conference held in NYC. Can you discuss the findings of that survey, as it related to body sizing and the need for upskilling in the global fashion industry?

Catherine: MOTIF, with the support of Alvanon and 19 global industry associations, launched its second global State of Skills survey in early 2020 to see if anything had changed with regards to the urgency around skills and professional development since our first survey in 2018.  The results were just released in October 2020 and can be found in a whitepaper on our site.  The key findings were that the industry still views skills as a key business issue, but that budgets are not matching.  So, one of our big problems is that there is a major mismatch between priorities and investments, especially when it comes to topics like sustainability and digitisation.  Another key finding is the discrepancy between top management’s perception of how they are supporting their employees with continuous learning opportunities and how employees feel like they are not receiving the professional development they want.

Francesca: Does Motif’s curriculum reflect the needs of current fashion industry professionals? Does Motif recruit its instructors from the fashion industry?

Catherine: MOTIF exists to fill the skills gap in the industry on fundamental technical skills, as well as hot new skills that will enable professionals to be the best at what they do as well as future-proof their career in the industry. The first courses offered on the platform revolved around product development, fit and sizing, sustainability and then 3D. We’re progressively expanding our catalogue with courses covering training needs in the wider spectrum of the apparel and fashion supply chain. For example, we’ve recently published a course by AQM on how to safely resume operations and protect your factory workforce from Covid-19, and we will soon have a new course by WRAP on risk assessment in factories. All instructors teaching courses on the platform are highly experienced industry practitioners and experts, passionate and eager to share their knowledge for the betterment of business practices in the industry and committed to collaborate with our team to deliver enjoyable, efficient and highly applicable learning experiences.

Francesca: What importance does MOTIF put on having solid, hands-on, foundational knowledge in disciplines such as pattern making, draping, sewing and drawing before moving on to learn digital tools such as CAD, PDS and 3D?

Catherine: There are core skills that will always be critical in the industry. These are the fundamental skills that don’t change over time. They are also the “art and the science” or the craft in the industry.  Any newcomer to the industry needs to have these fundamentals.  Actually, it is not just the newcomers but even many seasoned professionals need refreshers in these skills as their careers evolve.  What has changed over time is how we apply some of these skills or the new digital tools that we are using with them.  You have many young start-ups looking for pattern makers with coding skills and it is this example of a new blend of skills that will be relevant in the future so that young brands and companies remain agile and innovative.

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Alvanon recently hosted the first 3D virtual conference, can you tell us what the industry’s reaction was to the inevitability of a 3D digital transformation? What are the pros and cons of implementing 3D in the workplace and what companies are leading this transformation?

Catherine: Alvanon, with MOTIF as its “Learning Partner”, organised the first 3D Tech Festival for Apparel and Fashion in September 2020, as an open and agnostic platform for 3D tech leaders to discuss and re-imagine how we live, work and learn in an apparel world gone digital. With over 60 speakers and thousands of participants from 94 different countries, the four-day virtual event was a resounding success with an innovative format combining a full-blown conference, 3D Tech vendor virtual showcases and the launch of the MOTIF 3D Fashion Tech Community. Aiming at quenching the thirst for practical knowledge and exchange around 3D adoption and implementation in the industry, the live event was offered entirely free and is now available on-demand on motif.org, while the MOTIF 3D Fashion Tech Community is also continuously growing with new members and ongoing conversation threads.

Like for all other major disruptive technology trends, there is a mix of excitement and apprehension or mistrust around the adoption of 3D and its benefits. The question of the pros and cons of implementing or adopting 3D, isn’t really the right one though. There is little doubt now that 3D already does and will increasingly bring efficiency and sustainability benefits to the industry. The first and foremost question is the fundamental WHY each organisation would adopt 3D and embark on a transformative journey. How does it support and enable execution of the vision and development strategy of an organisation? It’s about core business goals, streamlined processes and fostering a culture where people are embracing change, adhering to values and objectives underlying it. It’s about equipping your teams with the right skills and confidence that they can execute on the vision and that all stakeholders have a place in the transformational journey. It’s about mapping out the steps, from pilot to enterprise-wide deployment, and being able to demonstrate the return on investment at each stage. To help those that want and need to take the leap, MOTIF has developed a course that helps teams and individuals alike raise and answer the key questions, engage the right people and establish the milestones that will ease the way to the successful adoption and implementation of 3D.

There are many companies, large and small, and even start-ups, in the footwear and apparel industries that have started experimenting, adopting or embedding digital tech as the nexus of their business model or operations. We get excited when we talk to some of the most progressive ones now looking at building internal 3D or digital skills competency centers with an explicit mandate to ramp up the training of the workforce on transformational change project management and new tools or technologies. At MOTIF, our vision is to support these endeavours with a tool kit of courses and resources that can then be customized for brands or manufacturers.

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Do you think the industry is adequately addressing climate change? What more can be done?

Catherine: We would have to answer no to this question.  Many companies are struggling with the HOW of integrating the ethos of the circle economy into their supply chains and to expedite the transformation around efficiency and transparency – both critical to tackle the problems of overproduction and waste.  This is why MOTIF is launching a sustainability intervention in February 2021! We will be hosting a three-day event around this particular topic with speakers from across the supply chain in an effort to reconcile practices between design, production and consumer.  Alongside this we will be launching our Sustainability Communities so that we can support the ongoing conversation.  MOTIF is also launching a new virtual learning series in December of this year that will run monthly and bring in case studies around these key topics.  Stay tuned for more information!

Francesca: What more can we do as an industry to stop the promotion, production and over-consumption of clothing?

Catherine: Overconsumption and overproduction are the two sides of the same coin, and we need to change currency. The urgency is undeniable yet there is no magic or easy way out or solution. On the consumer side, a change of societal values and education to buy less and better quality products produced or sourced responsibly, to prolong the life of our garments by upcycling, swapping, donating, reusing or recycling instead of just dumping them in a landfill, is paramount. Studies seem to show that Millennials and GenZ consumers are increasingly ready to pay more for quality products and have a genuine appetite for sustainable fashion, so we are heading in the right direction. Many brands, large and small are embedding sustainability practices throughout the entire product lifecycle and facilitating responsible customer initiatives by developing new services tied to the end of life of their products.

For many brands or retailers, it is also about ethos, values and legacy. It does take courage and integrity to, like Patagonia, refuse to participate in the Black Friday or CyberMonday orgies and encourage your customers not to buy a jacket in your new collection if the life of your current one can be extended. And it is not something you can preach or pull off unless you walk the talk. While we see real progress in the industry, the staggering, record sales numbers just reported by Alibaba and JD Express for the 2020 November Singles day (all consumer product categories included) show that old habits die hard and there are many contextual and cultural elements that come into play so there isn’t a one size fits all solution.

The progressive digitization of the industry and adoption of new technology are also enablers of systemic change, with the emergence of more circular business models. There is a pressing need to upskill the current people the industry employs on sustainability so that change can happen at scale. Waiting for a fresh generation of designers, product developers and supply chain professionals can’t be afforded. The responsibility of picking up these essential new skills, not only lies with the industry or corporations but also with professionals themselves, if they wish to become agents of change and future-proof their careers in the industry.

Sustainability is a strategic area of course and content development for us. As mentioned, when we launched our platform, we already had a beginner course on Sustainability and we have just released a brand new intermediate course taught by LIM College faculty.

Francesca: There has recently been a focus on social justice and our industry‘s lack of inclusivity. Do you think the fashion industry has more to do in this area and what is MOTIF doing to help?

Catherine: MOTIF is actively seeking out and working with partners that are developing content around these topics. From driving diversity and inclusion in our workplace all the way to how we bring in diversity and inclusion when designing for consumers and building socially responsible supply chains. Our vision is to have a catalogue of courses and resources valuable for the industry, but also that all material is taught through these lenses.

Francesca: Since the pandemic, people have been working remotely and making use of online tools. Have you seen an impact in online learning at MOTIF?

Catherine: Pre-Covid, companies still preferred onsite training even though online learning had established itself years ago as a viable and efficient training solution for individuals and corporations alike. The current crisis has only increased awareness and receptivity to the value of virtual learning environments and accelerated the adoption with many corporations now fully appreciating the efficiency, flexibility and scalability that elearning offers with real shared benefits for employees and employers. Once the pandemic gets under control, we expect that organisations will resume offline training, but we’re convinced that they will converge on more of a hybrid training model, a blended approach leveraging the best of both offline and online learning experiences, which MOTIF has already started to offer.

We’ve undoubtedly seen an increased traffic on the motif.org platform and stronger engagement from learners taking our courses. As more corporations, non-profit organisations or academic institutions are looking at accelerating the digitalisation of their training or educational content, this has also opened a lot of collaboration opportunities for us and enquiries on our instructional design and courses development services offering.

The University of Fashion is happy to welcome MOTIF to the online learning community. Together we shall both help to promote online fashion education for years to come!

 

Sincerely,

Francesca Sterlacci

CEO/University of Fashion

PRESIDENTIAL STYLE: JOE BIDEN’S SARTORIAL CHOICES THROUGHOUT THE YEARS

President Joe Biden in his signature navy suit and aviator sunglasses. (Photo Credit: @Drew Angerer)

There is no denying that President Joe Biden has nailed the fashion formula throughout his campaign trail, state visits and even during his off-duty sartorial looks. Joe Biden turned 78 on Nov. 20, 2020 and has had a long and successful political career, including two terms as Vice-President of the United States (2009-2017). He is now the most powerful political figure of the United States of America and his clothing choices are being eagerly watched by the fashion industry, who are desperately in need of a shot in the arm (vaccine pun, unintended).

For the most part, men’s suits on the political stage are simply that: men’s suits and not much more. Apart from a pattern on a tie or shirt color, they all look roughly the same. But the truth is that everything from the fit of their shoulders to the size of their shirt collar matters. It can be the difference between looking put together versus wearing unbuttoned oversized baggy suits.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION

(Left) First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and (Right) President Joe Biden wearing American Designers on his Inauguration Day. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

On Jan. 20, 2021, the world watched as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America. President Biden is known for his effortless, classic American style, so it was no surprise that Ralph Lauren designed his suit for this President’s inauguration.  Before his big day, WWD published an article announcing that Ralph Lauren would be dressing the President for the inauguration. Sources stated that “Biden has been working with the designer on a suit for the historic ceremony. The custom suit will be made in the recently renamed Rochester Tailored Clothing in Rochester, N.Y., which has been making Hickey Freeman clothing for more than a century.” Throughout the years, Joe and Jill Biden have been regular Ralph Lauren customers. “You can’t go wrong wearing Ralph Lauren,” said one menswear designer to WWD.

As President Biden was sworn in, he was the epitome of classic American style. He wore a navy blue suit and overcoat by Ralph Lauren. In a WWD article, one observer commented, “ This is a symbolic sartorial statement for a return to decorum and upholding the values of America.”  President Joe Biden wore a navy, single-breasted, notch lapel, two-button suit, a crisp white dress shirt, and a pale blue tie to coordinate with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s Markarian coat and dress look was created by the young American designer Alexandra O’Neill. The color blue was a nod to the Democratic party, according to WWD, a symbol of trust, confidence, and stability. President Biden captured the essence of how a modern day leader of the free world would look like.

Wearing Ralph Lauren was a departure from Brooks Brothers the oldest men’s clothier, founded in 1818, who had outfitted 41 of the 46 American presidents, including Barack Obama during his inauguration in 2009. Due to their failure to adapt to the trend towards slim cut suits and business casual wear, Brooks Brothers fell into bankruptcy last year and was sold for $325 million to SPARC Group, a joint venture between Simon Property and Authentic Brands Group.

Ralph Lauren has a history of nonpartisan dressing, including moments with Michelle Obama and outgoing First Lady Melania Trump. Joe Biden even sported a classic Polo shirt recently to take both of his COVID-19 vaccinations on television.

 

FASHION CHOICES THROUGH THE YEARS

A young Joseph Biden, wearing a casual short-sleeved shirt, pictured in 1967. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Joe Biden’s political career began in 1970 when he was first elected to a county council seat in Delaware. The law graduate and public defender worked as a senator and launched his first presidential campaign in the 1980s. In 2009, Joe Biden became the Vice President under Barack Obama, the two were a political dream team and had the cool-guy swagger that elevated the menswear game. Biden served as VP of the United States for two terms, ending his post in 2017.

President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama sharing a laugh and looking dapper. (Photo Credit: barackobama.medium.com)

Throughout his numerous years in political office, Biden has, naturally, refined his work wardrobe, moving from bolder prints and heavier fabrics to cleaner-cut tailoring and the occasional relaxed, open-necked shirt. The President also has embraced accessories to define his style, from his signature aviator sunglasses to funky print socks. President Biden has also been seen throughout his campaign wearing a face-mask, to protect not only himself, but everyone around him.

President Joe Biden in his elegant sartorial look and face mask . (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

When not on the campaign trail, President Biden has also been known to dabble in leather jackets, short-sleeved shirts and his signature aviators. A relaxed preppy vibe with a modern twist.

InStyle Magazine’s 2017 spread on Joe Biden. (Photo Credit Mario Sorrenti)

Here are some of Biden’s looks throughout the years:

Joseph Biden, in stripes and polka dots, checks in at the office of the Secretary of the Senate on December 13, 1972. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in a slick tux, pictured at an event on July 14, 1987. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

 

Joseph Biden, left, in a casual shirt and aviators, receives a briefing at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, on August 11, 2001. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in midnight blue, visits the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

BIDEN’S STYLE TODAY

Joe Biden, in his favorite color of suit, navy, and his wife, Jill Biden, attend at his election night event at the Chase Centre in Delaware, US, on November 3, 2020. (Photo Credit: EPA)

Today, President Biden is one of the best dressed politicians in the United States. The President is known for wearing a well-tailored classic cut suit, which makes sense given his physique (slim and tall). To the unqualified eye President Biden’s suits might appear to fit a little on the large side, but the slight pull at his top button and the way the back of his jacket collar sits flush against his shirt collar indicate a well-fitted suit.

For the most part President Biden sticks to what works best for him. His suits are usually navy, although occasionally he pushes himself out of his comfort zone and wears black or khaki tones. It seems that the President also prefers to wear crisp white shirts, which give him a sleek and refined look.

President Joe Biden supports his local community. For years he has been working with his local tailor in Wilmington, Delaware and occasionally orders custom shirts from Wright & Simon, a narrow shop on Market Street. Leonard Simon, the shop’s proprietor, has plenty of selfies with the President, but Simon laughs in an interview with the local paper Northjersey.com; “The pictures are in my phone. That’s where they will stay,” said Simon, 71, whose father, Morris Simon, cofounded Wright & Simon in 1935. “I’m a small store in a small state. I have to have discretion.”

Custom suits created at Wright & Simon are beautifully tailored and fit to perfection on their clients. Leonard Simon boasts that his clients can receive a perfectly tailored suit at a fraction of the cost of a designer version. Wilmington is not a $3,000-suit kind of town. At Wright & Simon, a customer can purchase a custom fit and press suit in their tailoring shop above the store for $795. Now that’s a bargain!

President Biden also perfected the art of accessorizing with his cool signature Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, dapper pocket squares, sleek facemasks, elegant repp ties (repetitive woven ribs of the silk tie fabric) and playful socks.

A pair of American Flag themed socks that Joe Biden has worn in the past. (Photo Credit: HuffPost)

PRESIDENT BIDEN BRAND  CHOICES

President Biden mostly chooses his suits from his local tailor shop in Wilmington, Delaware for a moderate price, and the tailoring is impeccable; former President Trump on the other hand has his suits custom made by the Italian luxury brand Brioni for a whopping $3,000.

According to Patrick Henry, better known as LA designer/tailor ‘Fresh’, a slimmer, more tailored fit reads more youthful and modern like those worn by Biden, while a larger and more relaxed suit like that of former President Trump, may speak to a different audience.

According to Fresh, President Biden’s pants are a perfect choice for his silhouette. “Biden’s break sits right at the top of his shoe. “Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.”

Ultimately, Fresh said the tailoring on President Biden’s suits and details like pocket squares make him look more youthful, confident, and ready.

“The presidency isn’t about health and physical fitness, but Biden looks like a young man, like he could go toe to toe with anyone,” he said. “He looks confident and, in my opinion, gives a look of readiness. Whereas a more conservative, looser fit looks like he might be ready to go do something else.”

FASHION AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Throughout the history of the White House, the United States has had several very fashionable first ladies and dapper presidents; from John and Jacqueline Kennedy to Barack and Michelle Obama. These political powerhouses brought style and grace to the White House.

Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden have plenty of swag. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

No one has championed young American designers the way Michelle Obama did, so today, designers are becoming excited again for a fashionable-forward president and first lady. In an article in GQ magazine, America’s most influential designers are celebrating President Joe Biden’s sartorial choices.

In an interview with GQ, American fashion designer and CFDA Chairman Tom Ford stated, “Joe Biden is the perfect American president for now. I have always said that true elegance is not about style but about the way that one treats others. And Joe Biden is elegant. He also happens to be sartorially elegant: understated and a kind of calm and self-assurance that comes with age and experience. Slim and long with perfect posture, I find him quite sleek. A dramatic contrast to his predecessor. In fact, a welcome contrast in every way.”

Tom Ford, you captured President Biden’s essence perfectly!

REMINDER – UNIVERSITY OF FASHION HAS A MEN’S PATERN MAKING SERIES TO GET YOU STARTED AS A MENSWEAR DESIGNER

Welcome Jessica Krupa Our Newest Instructor Swimwear

- - CAD, Swimwear

We are very excited to announce our newest fashion category at the University of Fashion…swimwear!

Our instructor is Jessica Krupa, a New York City-based design entrepreneur and professor of design focusing on swimwear and intimate apparel. She has over 15 years of experience creating swimwear and intimate apparel collections for Fortune 500 Enterprises, such as Victoria’s Secret (VS) and Li & Fung, and has been awarded a bra design patent for innovation during her tenure at VS.

Jessica currently runs her own luxury swimwear company called Krupa Couture Swim and most recently founded an intimate apparel company called Panty Promise, focused on women’s feminine hygiene in panties, in which she received the “Favorite Brand Award” through Eurovet’s Curve Tradeshow Competition in November 2020.

Throughout her career, Jessica has been the receipt of several distinguished awards including Charleston’s Emerging Designer: East Competition, a Fulbright Scholarship called CBYX for Young Professionals, and has been inducted into the Hall of Excellence at OCVTS (Ocean County Vocational Technical School) to name a few. Her mission is to learn anything and everything about swimwear and lingerie design to make women of all shapes and sizes feel sexy, sophisticated and confident. Jessica is also known as the swimwear and lingerie guru of the fashion industry.

We are thrilled to have Jessica teaching at UoF where she shares her expertise in swimwear, intimate apparel and a new series on entrepreneurship. Stay tuned!

(Preview – Drawing a Swimsuit Block Template in Illustrator)

To see more of Jessica’s work:

Her Intimates brand – www.pantypromise.com @pantypromise

Her Swimwear brand – www.krupacouture.com @krupacoutureswim

 

A FRESH START TO THE YEAR: PRE-FALL 2021

- - Fashion Shows

Versace’s Pre-Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Theo Sion for Versace)

As we begin 2021, many of us are looking forward with hope to a vaccine that will help get us back to our pre-Covid lives. It can’t come a minute too soon. But what started out as a year of hope, took a discouraging turn here in the U.S. when only 6 days into 2021, we witnessed an insurrection in a failed attempt to bring down our government. As we write this, we still can’t believe it! It was a very sad day for our democracy.

 

Erdem’s Pre-Fall 2021 Collection. (Image Credit: Erdem)

So, who doesn’t need a little fashion in their life right about now? Thank goodness for Pre-Fall. Fashion designers are celebrating the new year by promoting a return to ‘dressing up.’ They want us to ditch our sweats and leisurewear and put some fashion effort into our lives. Sounds good to me! And once again, due to Covid restrictions, these designers came up with creative ways to present their collections.

GUCCI

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     (Video Credit: Gucci)

Leave it to Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, to present his Pre-Fall 2021 collection in a manner that is just as eclectic and creative as his clothes. Michele collaborated with American filmmaker Gus Van Sant, and the two creative geniuses came up with the project known as “GucciFest.” A digital project of 90 minutes shot throughout Rome over a 20-day period. The outcome, a seven-episode miniseries of visual delight.

The miniseries features plenty of familiar faces. In episode three, Ouverture of Something That Never Ended, the film starred Harry Styles. Styles, is not only known his music but also for his gender-fluid approach to fashion. The pop star made a cameo wearing a pink Gucci tee tucked into eco denim washed shorts. “When it comes to making art it’s about finding the thing you’ve always wanted to see that has never been made,” Styles says in the film while talking on a phone call. “It’s always an uncomfortable moment, I think, when you find the thing. You don’t know if you love it or hate it because you don’t really know what it is yet. But I think that’s the most exciting place to work in.”

The fashionable miniseries also includes stars such as Florence Welch (of the band, Florence and the Machine) in a vintage shop setting, as well as Billie Eilish (needs no explanation) walking her pet robot dog. The star of the miniseries, Italian actress Silvia Calderoni, is filmed throughout the empty ancient streets of Rome, all decked out in Gucci from head-to-toe.

As for the looks, they were Michele’s maximist aesthetic to the max. The collection had plenty of vibrant festive looks that ranged from a sequin pink and green zig-zag pattern pant paired with a purple sequin top and green bed-jacket; a purple pantsuit with gold embroidery; sheer lace lingerie inspired pieces; and plenty of beastly fur outerwear. For day, Michele featured a capsule of casual looks such as a blue athletic suit with the Gucci stripe running down the side; logo athletic t-shirts; flared denim pants; and plenty of denim shorts. The creative director also showed plenty of his vintage, ‘70s inspired looks with floral dresses; bow blouses; and geometric print coats.

Kudos to Michele for presenting his collection in such a creative, attention grabbing way.

CHANEL

(Video credit: Chanel)

As the old saying goes, “The show must go on!” And so Chanel filmed it’s pre-fall 2021 show at the Château de Chenonceau with a cast and crew of 300 and precisely one VIP guest: Kristen Stewart.

The Château de Chenonceau, is one of the jewels of France’s Loire Valley. The castle belonged to Catherine de’ Medici, the Italian-born, former queen of France, and throughout the grand estate you can find interlocking Cs, which were the Queen’s initials, but today, they look incredibly similar to the Chanel logo. The grand estate is also known as the Ladies’ Château, according to WWD, “Chenonceau has a history marked by a succession of powerful women, of which the Renaissance rulers, in particular, inspired the label’s founder, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. That the French fashion house chose to stage its Métiers d’Art collection there is therefore something of a full-circle moment.”

The iconic house had hoped to invite approximately 200 guests to creative director Virginie Viard’s first fashion show outside of Paris, but due to a second lockdown in France, the brand was forced to revise its plans. So aside from the cast and crew, the show had only one guest, Kristen Stuart who will be featured in ads for the collection photographed by Juergen Teller.

As for Viard’s pre-fall collection for Chanel, she was inspired by many aspects of the 16th century castle. Lining the infamous chateau are beautiful gardens created by King Henry II’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Viard channeled the parterre designs of the garden and the delicate flowers as she reinterpreted the feminine motifs into rich embroideries. It was “a sophisticated take on a “Disney” Viard stated in an interview with WWD.

The creative director was also mesmerized by the chateau’s black and white checkerboard floors, which was a reoccurring print theme throughout the collection as Viard applied the motif to chessboard sequin miniskirts to fringe tweed maxi skirts. Overall, the collection had a Goth princess aesthetic with dramatic capes, poet blouses, and plenty of transparent black dresses.

Viard also played tribute to Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld with her own playful interpretation of trompe l’oeil looks, with reimagines of the castle in Lego-like sequin bricks, used as cummerbund sashes that cinch the waists of full satin ball skirts and strapless gowns. The chateau’s tapestries also inspired Viard’s intarsia knit and embroidered sweaters. While the collection at times veered towards costume, there were still plenty of signature tweed jackets that the Chanel customers crave.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

(Video credit: Christian Dior)

 

Living in lockdown has been hard on all of us. Even the most fashionable influencers have photographed themselves in sweats and furry slippers. The spring collections were even filled with leisure-inspired looks that we all craved while many of us work from home, but Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director of Christian Dior, has had enough. For her pre-fall collection, Chiuri created her most animated collection to date. In an interview with Vogue Runway, the creative director states, “Now, we desire something that gives us energy. Something completely different.”

“After this year—so intense, so depressing—I would like to come back to the fashion that started my career: the playfulness that attracted me and my generation to fashion, and transform the Dior codes through this attitude,” she said. For Chiuri, a child of the 1970s, those roads had to lead to Elio Fiorucci. “My generation was super influenced by pop culture,” Chiuri recalled in the Vogue Runway interview. “At Fiorucci we saw another way of fashion. It was probably the moment that fashion was born in Italy, because we left our traditional clothes to go to this toy store and discover clothes we’d never seen in our life: different materials, and clothes from around the world.”

Inspired by Pop Art, Chiuri created an uncharacteristically colorful collection that was lighthearted and fun. The cheeky collection was filled with unapologetically fun pieces: a leopard coat; a silver jumpsuit; mirrored sequined party dresses; logo transparent raincoats; bold check mini skirt suits; and a humorous T Rex print that was found on everything from dresses to tote bags. In her atelier, Chiuri said, “We decided that when this is all over, we’re each going to choose a different color dress and have a big party. That’s the dream: to dance together.”

Let the festivities begin!

CAROLINA HERRERA

Carolina Herrera’s Pre-Fall 2021 Collection. (Image credit: Carolina Herrera)

It was only two months ago that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wore a white pantsuit from Carolina Herrera for her acceptance speech. Harris chose white as a tribute to the woman’s suffrage movement and her Carolina Herrera suit will be forever be synonymous with Harris’ ceiling-shattering moment.

For pre-fall, Carolina Herrera’s creative director, Wes Gordon, emphasized the more playful side of the brand’s aesthetic. Gordon hopes that by the time the collection hits stores (between May and June) the world will be on a clear path to vaccination.

Inspired by Mia Farrow, circa Rosemary’s Baby, there was a nod to the swinging sixties with black and white zebra prints, polka dot patterns. in an assortment of sizes and colors, as well as the houses signature bow motifs. The collection was joyful and energetic with looks that ran the gamut from brightly hued ballgown skirts to multi-colored dotted shirtdresses.

Gordon struck the perfect balance between youthful and sophistication.

OSCAR DE LA RENTA

Oscar de la Renta’s Pre-Fall 2021 Collection. (Image credit: Oscar de la Renta)

Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia’s collection for Oscar de la Renta was a joie de vivre celebration. The optimistic collection was filled with vibrant colors, fruity prints, and plenty of skin.

The design duo dug into the house’s archives and were inspired by a pineapple motif worn by Linda Evangelista in a 1992 Oscar collection; they were looking for something happy and light after this dark pandemic year we’re all living through. The pineapple pattern was found on several looks ranging from a block print on a simple green shift to a life-like color on a bandeau top with pouf sleeves. Other key looks included an array of brightly colored shorts, short day dresses, playful striped rompers, and a few strapless cocktail confections.

Garcia joked in an interview with Vogue Runway, “Piña coladas all day long.”

So tell us, how optimistic are you feeling in your fashion choices for 2021?

Happy New Year From UoF!

(Image credit: @mark_higden – www.markhigden.com)

Well, you’ve got to admit, this was a year like no other!

Good riddance 2020. But before you go, we’d like to remember those who tragically lost their lives due to the pandemic and those of us who still mourn the friend or relative that is gone. Please accept our sincere condolences.

As we learned to adjust to the new 2020 normal, we gained insight into what’s really important in life. We even caught a glimpse what life might be like in the future. And there is some hope on the horizon.

We learned the term ‘essential worker’. Health care professionals and others who stepped up while many of us locked down. The ‘thanks’ list is long. From grocery store personnel and other service sector workers, to truckers, FedEx, UPS and Amazon workers, to farmers, meat packers and countless others. How can we ever repay them?

(Image credit: University of Fashion)

Schools and teachers found out what we at UoF have known for years…the future of education is online, and that content is King! When schools demanded their teachers start teaching remotely, hundreds of teachers from many different schools around the world wrote to us for help. We gladly gave free access to our content to help them through the semester. Many schools became subscribers as a result. In addition, we actively promoted Fashion Learning Pods on our blog page.

(Image credit: Homeschooling Parent Association)

Parents became teachers and had to adjust to a whole new lifestyle, many with the help of UoF. In 2020, the HomeSchooling Parent Association certified the University of Fashion as a qualified educational provider for its members.

UoF certificated by Homeschooling Parent Association (Image credit: Homeschooling Parent Association)

(Image credit: Custom Collaborative)

Our hearts were broken as we watched events unfold in May, beginning with the senseless killing of George Floyd. UoF responded to the #BlackLivesMatter movement by covering the fashion industry’s reaction on our blog and by offering free unlimited access to the UoF library to Custom Collaborative, a Harlem non-profit that advocates for women with low to no-income and immigrant women, to build the skills necessary so that they can achieve economic success in the sustainable fashion industry. We also gave free unlimited access to Black Fashion World an organization that provides black fashion professionals access to higher education, capital, mentorship and the advice of experts. We continue to showcase African American designers on our blog because together we can make a difference.

(Image credit: Menswear designer/bespokesman/UoF Instructor Rishabh Manocha -Photo credit: Mitchell Helson)

We were sad to hear that so many small businesses were forced to shutter and that some of our entrepreneurial subscribers and instructors with bespoke fashion businesses were completely locked down. We are hopeful that they’ll be able to reemerge and thrive.

(Image credit Jennifer Coffman)

Many of us made and wore masks, followed social distancing rules and continue to play by the rules. We watched in horror as others didn’t. Our mask contest in April brought out sewers from around the U.S and as far away as Africa, Iraq and Mexico. It warmed our hearts to see how the sewing community and the fashion industry stepped up to the plate. Our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, sewed 300 masks for her local nursing homes.

While we witnessed the most contentious election in our lifetime, we continue to have hope that as a country, we can unite and work together.

Now for some Silver Linings. The pandemic brought climate change into focus. The fashion industry is finally examining its carbon footprint and looking at textiles and technology to help. In March we reported how this is happening in our post Pandemic, Pollution – A Fashion Industry Wake-Up Call? Our 3-part series on  3D design explored how 3D design will help save the planet and our 3-part lesson series on how to design sustainably, taught by founder Noor Bchara of Upcycle Design School, continues to inspire designers to start their own upcycle/recycle brand.

So…the future. As we move into 2021, UoF is committed to delivering the best in fashion education with the best talent that our industry has to offer. Here’s a preview of a few new lessons and series that we’re working on:

  • Swimwear
  • Intimate Apparel
  • Advanced Draping
  • Advanced Menswear
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Advanced Pattern Making

As we eagerly welcome the mystery of 2021 with open arms, we would like to thank all of our UoF behind-the-scenes professionals (especially Brad, Myrna, Chen, Toni and Barbara), our instructors, our individual subscribers and our many school, library and company subscribers.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year!

 

Best wishes,

Francesca Sterlacci – Founder/CEO University of Fashion

Jeff Purvin – Executive Chairman

Finally…Out of the Closet!

- - Fashion Tips

When was the last time that you really looked in your closet?  Did it take a pandemic for you to go through it and toss out or donate things that you never wore or haven’t worn in, forever? Well, that’s a start. But here’s something more to ponder.

Image credit: https://thecardswedrew.com/diy-closet-makeover/

In 2018, the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) and their student collective called Dirty Laundry, developed the Closet Mass Index (CMI) (borrowing its name from Body Mass Index – BMI) based upon the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dirty Laundry’s mission is to change the educational environment and the fashion industry, by initiating a dialogue and collective action centered around sustainability and the impact that our individual purchases have on the environment.

Image credit: From the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) Dirty Laundry guide

According to Dirty Laundry, “most clothes are bought in the spur of the moment: you fall in love with an item, perhaps without realizing that you already have 3 or 4 pieces alike. It becomes difficult to make conscious decisions when you don’t know what really is in your closet.”

Whether you have a small closet or a walk-in, have your ever thought about the items in your closet in terms of categories? For example:

  • How many are new
  • How many are unworn
  • How many were gifted (hand-me-downs, swapped items)
  • How many are secondhand
  • How many were mended
  • How many were made locally
  • How many were made on your continent
  • How many were made overseas

This is the idea behind AMFI’s Closet Mass Index. By using their worksheet to take stock of what’s in your closet by category, the CMI provides insight into the ‘health’ of your closet. According to Dirty Laundry, “It is a tool for measuring its volume in a qualitative way. The word qualitative is key here, since it’s not just about knowing the number of items, but also their origins, their journey into your closet and ultimately your own buying behavior.”

Image credit: From Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) Dirty Laundry Closet Mass Index Guide

Dirty Laundry’s worksheet and the exercise of categorizing what’s currently in your closet is referred to as ‘7 Easy Steps’ (see list below). Once you have sorted your closet items into categories and completed the count, you will be able to ‘reflect’ on the contents and ask yourself a series of questions that will help you explore: your preferences, any future purchases and provide you with an accounting so that you can focus on your moral responsibility to the planet.

Questions include:

Which is the newest? Which is the oldest? When were they bought? Which are the favorites?  How many were made: locally? On your continent? Overseas?  What changes do you want to see in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?

Where do you get most of your clothes? Which materials do you prefer?  Do you see a pattern in the items you do not wear?  What is your main trigger for buying (price, style….)?  What do you do with the clothing you do not wear/want anymore?

Image credit: From Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) Dirty Laundry Guide-7 Easy Steps and Reflection questions

As you can see, Dirty Laundry’s CMI worksheet refers to ‘jumpers’ (British English), which in American English are sweaters. So, I took the liberty of creating my own CMI that’s geared toward the American women’s wardrobe. On the worksheet below, I replaced Jumpers with Sweaters/ Sweatshirts, I added ‘Bottoms’, which encompasses Jeans, Pants, Shorts, Sweatpants and Leggings, and I added an additional category for Sports/Exercise clothing.

Image credit: UoF’s revision of Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) Dirty Laundry Closet Mass Index Worksheet

 

My Own Reflections: Beyond the Closet

After sorting, categorizing and counting the items in my own closet, the CMI exercise gave me a perspective as to my buying habits and the impact of ownership of these items. In the end, my reflections tended to be more philosophical.

Maybe, due to COVID (it’s just been that type of year), I found that I learned so much by looking into my closet. I came up with the following questions and realizations:

  • How had COVID changed my closet? For one, all of those work blouses would have to wait another day.
  • I could count on one hand how many garments were made in the U.S. and those that were, were not made recently. I asked myself, what did that mean for U.S. garment workers?
  • How many of the clothes in my closet were seasonal and how many were year around? Should I recycle those that were only seasonal? Were they even recyclable?
  • How many days per year could something be worn? Should this be an important consideration when buying a garment?
  • I learned that my sports and exercise clothing contained a lot of Lycra, which make them harder or potentially impossible to recycle based on current methods. The questions became: how many of my garments are 100% of one material and how many were blends?  It is known that blends are harder to recycle or upcycle. I asked myself, how do we improve the recyclability of blended garments? 
  • I did some research and found out that the BBC had a good article on how hard it is to recycle clothing. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200710-why-clothes-are-so-hard-to-recycle. This reminded me that I definitely needed to change my purchasing options in the future.
  • I sadly discovered garments that I had never even worn and yet I kept them in my closet regardless.
  • I also found items like my son’s vest from when he was a ring bearer. He is married now himself and it was clearly the sentimental side of a mom hanging on to something that someone else could possibly use.
  • There were other non-clothing items in my closet, but could they be recycled? Objects like plastic hangers, suitcases, and bike helmets. Things with a combination of materials. What should I do with them?
  • I also pondered the need for walk-in closets at all, and what the impact of having one is to the architecture of housing and therefore to the heating/cooling costs of buildings? What does possessing a walk-in closet mean for the expected rate of garment consumption?
  • I learned that building operations account for 28 percent of carbon dioxide emissions annually, per the United Nations Environment Program. What percentage of floor space in housing are closets? How much energy does it take to keep our clothes comfortable? I found these links very helpful https://architecture2030.org/buildings_problem_why/

https://archive.curbed.com/2019/9/19/20874234/buildings-carbon-emissions-climate-change

I was empowered to make changes in my life as a result of this exercise and therefore want to encourage everyone to take the CMI challenge. I can assure you…you’ll be very happy you did! Maybe you’ll even want to make it your New Year’s Resolution?

 

Other Closet Solutions

For those of you who are handy with a sewing machine (which everyone who’s reading this UoF blogpost probably is), Dirty Laundry suggests that you take an accounting of how many pieces in your closet that you can:

  • Upcycle
  • Mend
  • Makeover
  • Tailor
  • Swap

Image credit: From Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) Dirty Laundry Guide

Image credit: From Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) Dirty Laundry Guide

For more on how to upcycling and recycling, be sure to check out UoF’s new Sustainability Series by Noor Bchara, founder of Upcycle Design School. Learn how to become a more sustainably-minded global citizen.

Together we can reduce our carbon footprint and I think that’s the best New Year’s Resolution of ALL!

So, tell us…what does your closet have to say about YOU?

 

REMINDER

We only offer our book & video subscription promo discounts ONCE A YEAR!!!

Offers expire 12/31/20

$40 off our Yearly subscription (was $189 now $149)

https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/ Promo Code: Learn1

$5 off the first month of our Monthly subscription (was $19.95 now $14.95) https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/ Promo Code: Learn2

 

35% off any of our books: Beginner Techniques: Draping or Pattern Making or Sewing

https://www.universityoffashion.com/3-book-series-ad-lkp-discount/ Promo code: Uof35