University of Fashion Blog

Posts by: Francesca Sterlacci

Francesca Sterlacci is the CEO of University of Fashion (UoF) which she founded in 2008 as the first online fashion video library bringing the art and craft of fashion design and business to schools, libraries, organizations and the general public. As owner of her eponymous label for ten years, her collection sold in fine stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Barneys and Nordstrom. As a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology for 11 years, she became Chair of the Fashion Design Department where she initiated the complete revision of their AAS and BFA degree programs, as well as wrote three certificate programs: Leather Fashion Design, Outerwear and Haute Couture. Francesca has also taught graduate level fashion design at the Academy of Art University San Francisco for six years, both on site and online. Her publishing accomplishments include: Leather Apparel Design, the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (First and Second Editions), the A-Z of the Fashion Industry, Leather Fashion Design and a 3-volume beginner series on Draping, Pattern Making and Sewing designed to complement the UoF lessons. She has also made literary contributions to both the Encyclopedia of Clothing & Fashion and You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Women. Francesca holds an AAS, BA and an MSEd (master’s degree in higher education).

IT’S HERE! OUR ONCE-YEARLY LIMITED TIME DISCOUNT OFFER

UoF Holiday Sale

UoF’s once-yearly Holiday Sale is here in time for celebrating Bergdorf Goodman’s 2022 holiday dressmaking window (Photo credit: Carol Bernheim)

Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday 2022 store window theme is a Celebration of Crafts! And, we love it!

What better way to kick off UoF’s once-yearly limited time subscription offer than to get an assist from Bergdorf Goodman? If you happen to find yourself in NYC, then you must visit the windows of Bergdorf Goodman whose theme this year is in celebration of crafts: scrapbooking, paper sculpture, metal craft, paper mache, dressmaking, wood craft and mosaic-making.

We especially love the window that is dedicated to art & craft of dressmaking. This window is filled with tape measures, buttons, irons, pincushions, mannequins and blinged-out sewing machines and scissors. It reinforces what we already know…that fashion is still made with ‘hands’.

Bergdorf’s holiday windows premiered on Nov 17th at 6pm. They are the most anticipated windows of the 5th avenue retailers. Hollywood and Broadway set designers, together with Bergdorf’s own visual merchandisers, plan the windows a full year in advance. For those of you who love the art of visual merchandising, check out this behind the scenes video of how these windows were assembled.

And, to explore how you can become a visual merchandiser yourself – subscribe to UoF and learn from our expert instructor Marcie Cooperman in her 9-part visual merchandising series.

Bergdorf Goodman 2022 Holiday windows behind the scenes video (Video credit: You Tube )

 

All of the Bergdorf Goodman 2022 Holiday Windows (Video credit: You Tube The Megan Daily)

According to the National Retail Federation – online shoppers outnumbered in-store shoppers 88 million to 67 million on Black Friday 2021 and that number is expected rise exponentially for 2022.

So, why not give the gift of fashion education to both yourself and that fashionista in your life? Full access, 24/7 to more than 500 videos in fashion design and business. Learn from fashion college professors and industry pros in 13 different disciplines.

Our video subscription discount happens ONLY ONCE A YEAR so get going!

Offers expire 1/1/23

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

https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/

Promo Code: WIN1

$5 off the first month of our Monthly subscription (was $19.95 now $14.95)

https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/

 Promo Code: WIN2

And remember, you can now earn a certificate for each lesson that you complete at UoF – FREE!

 

Move now, these offers expire 1/1/23

INTRODUCING OUR NEW 3D DESIGN INSTRUCTORS

From our first lesson – Browzwear: Introduction to 3D Design & VStitcher

If you have been reading the University of Fashion blog for the past 4 years, then you know how bullish we are about 3D design technology as yet another tool in the arsenal of fashion designers and retailers. If you haven’t then you may want to read our past posts: Augmented Reality (AR) for Fashion Retailing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Fashion, and The 3D Revolution Parts 1, 2 and 3  from 2019.

As fashion companies are now expanding their workspaces to include true-to-life 3D in the areas of design, product development, sales & marketing, we are thrilled to announce the addition of 3D design as a new learning category to our existing 500+ video lesson library.

Those already working in the world of 3D digital fashion design all agree, that without a solid hands-on foundation in the other 3Ds – draping, digital drawing, drafting, plus sewing, you are just an imposter. According to Amy Sperber, a 3D-user and Assistant Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology:

Foundational knowledge of grain, fabric behavior and construction variations are essential at being a competent 3D fashion design software user. The challenge for fashion designers with little digital background is that the interfaces may be intimidating at first. Those with a working knowledge of Illustrator will find familiar tool experiences in the 2D pattern making portions of 3D software. The next generation of fashion designers will need to be technically creative and digitally fluid.”

For our 3D design series, we recruited two top instructors, Brittany Gray and Iris Hopkins, who are both currently working in the industry using Browzwear 3D software. We will also be adding lessons in CLO 3D in the future so stay tuned. Meanwhile, we thought that you would be interested in hearing from Brittany and Iris about their journey into 3D design and get a sneak peek at their first lessons for us. They are both working on a series of lessons that we will be rolling out this year.

 

MEET BRITTANY GRAY

Brittany Gray instructor

Brittany Gray – 3D design instructor at UoF (photo credit: Brittany Gray)

I was first introduced to 3D/virtual prototyping in my junior year of college. I went to the University of North Carolina Greensboro, who was partnered with VF corporation. VF heavily used 3D so we adapted it into our curriculum. At the time, I only knew the basics, but was on the hunt for an internship that was required for me to graduate. Walmart corporation reached out to my university, eager to hear that students were learning 3D and were looking for a student to intern as a 3D Technical Designer. Though I was reluctant to apply due to my very basic knowledge at the time, with the support of my instructor Anne Woods, I applied. I promised them that if they accepted me for the internship, by the time I needed to relocate to Bentonville Arkansas, I would have mastered the program. Two weeks went by and I received the offer as the very first 3D Technical Design Intern for Walmart Corporate. I worked in the software everyday leading up to my internship. Once I arrived in Arkansas, I fell in love with the flexibility of the 3D workflow, so much so that I decided to stay in 3D and later relocated to New York to be a 3D designer at The Moret Group to jumpstart their 3D journey. Now I am currently working at Under Armour and love the ability to assist my teammates in their 3D journey’s as well.”

To learn more about Brittany, click these links:

https://browzwear.com/indie-designer-spotlight-brittney-gray/

https://www.universityoffashion.com/instructor/brittney-grey/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/brittneygray3d

Brittany Gray’s first lesson for UoF

MEET IRIS HOPKINS

Iris Hopkins – 3D instructor at UoF

Iris Hopkins – 3D instructor at UoF (Photo credit: Iris Hopkins)

I have always had an interest in bridging the gap between the traditional way of pattern making and innovation and 3D seems so fitting in my efforts. As a professional in this business, our goals are to get quality product to market faster with a focus on waste management through less sampling, eco-friendly materials, and upcycling. I want to be a part of a new generation of pattern makers who understands these points while remaining true to the craft through technology and innovation. In 3D, I have the ability to utilize all of this knowledge and skillsets in one place. My keen interest in 3D has led me down a path of exploration for about a year, teaching myself Browzwear VStitcher, followed by an enrollment in a five-week extensive learning program. Through my experience, I have found that the worlds of traditional pattern making and innovation do meet and connect in 3D and it is a great skill to have.

 For more about Iris and her 10+ years in the fashion industry click this link: https://www.universityoffashion.com/instructor/iris-hopkins/ and check out her work on IG @imhswim

Iris Hopkins – first lesson in 3D for UoF

Iris Hopkins – second lesson in 3D for UoF

Our new lessons require access to Browzwear VStitcher software. Software Licenses, BW support and access to the BW community of experts are available through this link: https://go.browzwear.com/indies-applicationIn the “I was referred by” field, type University of Fashion.

So, tell us, how interested are you in learning 3D design?

MEET PARRON ALLEN

- - Sustainability

THE BROOKLYN-BASED SUSTAINABLE DESIGNER WHO IS

SAVING THE WORLD – ONE GARMENT AT A TIME

Parron Allen (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

From Mississippi to Brooklyn…you’ve come a long way baby!!

Parron Allen Edwards-Stimola is a Brooklyn-based apparel designer and founder of the eponymous brand, Parron Allen. Parron’s design vision is inspired by his childhood in Lexington, Mississippi. His grandmother, Momma Ruth, expressed her spirit, love, and faith by sewing dresses for the women in her family. Parron witnessed these women shed some of Jim Crow’s burden in the simple yet thoughtful dresses that Momma Ruth made for them – smiling, twirling, and bantering about good things on days of rest. Momma Ruth made dresses as so many Black women did—with whatever materials were available—creating beauty from remnants long before upcycling began its march toward the mainstream.

Upcycled vest/shirt by Parron Allen (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

Parron’s designs echo this joyous harmony of whimsy and practicality in a voice for the present moment, reclaiming the art of upcycling for his ancestors and creating inventive collections using fabric remnants, discarded textiles, and thrifted garments. Prior to founding his brand in 2021, Parron Allen studied design in the US and UK and honed his skills at Vera Wang, Ellen Tracy, and Rebecca Taylor.

Here’s a preview of the interview, but to watch the full 30-minute version, subscribe to University of Fashion (unless you are already a subscriber). Parron shares his journey: his design process; inspirational and rag resources; his connections and mentors; and the ups and downs of working for himself. You are going to absolutely fall in love with this guy!!!

If you are thinking of creating your own sustainable design brand, then you MUST watch this video interview. The interview is conducted by Noor Bchara of Upcycle Design School, a sustainable designer and former FIT student of UoF’s founder, Francesca Sterlacci. Noor has also contributed three lessons on sustainable design for University of Fashion.

Upcycled trench by Parron Allen (image courtesy Parron Allen)

Parron and one of his mentors – designer Rebecca Taylor (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

In the interview, Parron answers the questions that all upstart sustainable designers want to know:

  • What inspired you to become a sustainable designer?
  • How did you get started?
  • Do you have a mentor?
  • Where do you get your materials?
  • Do you have funding?
  • What are your production resources?
  • How do you cost your designs?
  • How do you market your work?
  • Where do you sell your collection?
  • What are the challenges of being a sustainable designer?

Parron Allen in his design studio (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

When asked about his production capabilities, Parron responded that he loves his ‘little sewing machine’, which he uses to do a lot of upcycling with garments that already exist. But when it comes to production, especially his newest pieces, he uses his friend Anita and her small-scale production facility. Parron’s knowledge of draping, pattern making and sewing, is one of his most important assets.

Parron Allen at his famous ‘little sewing machine’ (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

Parron credits his sharp Instagram marketing skills, @parron.allen, and his sales acumen for the success he’s had in getting his collection into stores such as Art to Ware and Granru. He will also be announcing his own pop-up shop soon.

Art to Ware – one of Parron Allen’s retailers (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

Granru – one of Parron Allen’s retailers (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

Once you watch our interview with Parron Allen, you will see how not only is he a very talented designer but that his personality, passion and drive are the key to his success.

For more about Parron Allen:

Instagram: @parron.allen

Website: www.parronallen.com

CALLING ALL TEACHERS  STUDENTS & SCHOOLS

school' out

Welcome Back! We hope you had a fun summer and are excited about your new school term. It’s time to buckle down, crack the books, and meet those project deadlines. If you’re a high school or college aspiring fashion design or fashion business student or teacher, we ARE your NEW best friend.

We have has over 500 lessons in 13 different disciplines from beginner to advanced to help you get through your academic term. As a UoF subscriber, you can access all of our lessons morning, noon and night, and as many times as you want. Now that’s what I call a tutor!

To help get you started, we’re offering $5 off the first month of an individual recurring monthly subscription (was $19.95 – now $14.95). Use promo code: NEW. And for $20 off an individual yearly subscription (was $189 now $169) use promo code: SCHOOL. Move fast, these offers expire on Oct 30, 2022.

HOW WE HELP FACULTY

Just this week we heard from two fashion college faculty members, at a top New York fashion school, whose teaching schedules changed at the last minute. University of Fashion to the rescue. One needed to brush up on her draping skills, the other on her drafting skills, so…they became UoF subscribers and called to thank us. Whew, that was close.

girl costing a garment

 

Another teacher at an LA fashion school needed to brush up on her retail math, merchandising and marketing skills and she too became a subscriber. Our business videos, in fact all of our videos, are taught by fashion college professors and industry professionals, so the information is top notch and current.

A teacher who teaches visual merchandising at a fashion college in Florida told us that he’ll be using our visual merchandising series as a supplement to the current curriculum in his hybrid classroom. Ever since COVID, many more teachers have embraced online learning and are including us in their lesson plans. Wohoo!

HOW WE HELP STUDENTS

student measuring neckline

We especially love helping design students. For many it’s the first time they’ve had to calculate inches and centimeters, which is why our lesson entitled How to Read a Ruler is SO popular. When frustration sets in, because an instructor moves too fast during a demo causing the student to fall behind, we are here for them. In the privacy of their own home, students (and teachers) can watch and rewind a lesson until it sinks in. Whether it’s a sewing, draping, drawing or drafting lesson, we’ve got you covered. Oh, and did you know that we also answer any and all of your questions within 24 hours via our Customer Service link? At UoF, our teachers want you to succeed.

HOW SCHOOLS CAN SUBSCRIBE

If you are a teacher at a high school or college and would like your school to have a free 30-day all access trial, reach out to us via CS@universityoffashion.com. Once your first time 30-day free trial is up, your school will be able to take  advantage of our school/group subscription discount. It’s always cheaper by the dozen, right?

OUR NEW CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

Alas! All University of Fashion paid subscribers can now receive a Certificate of Completion for any and all completed lessons and lectures. You can track your individual progress toward earning a certificate by clicking on the ‘My Learning’ tab on the left side of your ‘Account Page’ and then you can print them out.

Why is earning a certificate important? In addition to learning something new and having proof of your hard work, you can also impress you employer, your teacher and your clients. You can also add your certificates to your portfolio, alongside images of your work. And, by the way, the certificates are FREE!

 

ABOUT UNIVERSITY OF FASHION & IT’S FOUNDER

University of Fashion founder: Francesca Sterlacci

University of Fashion was founded in 2008 by Francesca Sterlacci, a former professor and chairperson at the Fashion Institute of Technology and a graduate level instructor at the Academy of Art University San Francisco. She spent 18 years in academe and 10 years as a designer in her high-end eponymous fashion brand. Francesca has written three certificate programs while at FIT and is the author of several books: Leather Fashion Design, Draping Techniques for Beginners, Pattern making Techniques for Beginners, Sewing Techniques for Beginners and co-author of the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry.

University of Fashion provides professionally produced fashion educational video content to schools, libraries, groups & associations, as well as individual subscription memberships. UoF offers 500 beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons in 13 different disciplines; draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion art, CAD fashion art, digital pattern making, 3D design, menswear, childrenswear, knitwear, accessories, production development and fashion business, in addition to lectures on color theory, textile design, costume history, trend forecasting, sustainable design, influencer marketing, fashion law, and other industry relevant topics. Teachers use UoF to upgrade their skills and as supplemental materials in their hybrid classrooms.

UoF has a robust social media presence. Are you looking to get your name out there? Hoping to land that dream job? Why not post your work on Instagram to #uofprojects. We’ll reward the best projects with a free one year subscription to UoF. So get going!

 

UNIVERSITY OF FASHION’S CERTIFICATE PROGRAM GOES LIVE

UoF Certificate(Image credit: example of University of Fashion Certificate of Completion)
Our subscribers had been asking us about how they could earn a certificate upon completion of our lessons. We get it, who wants to invest hours of time and money and not get a reward? Well, at last, and after hours of computer programming (and money), we are proud to announce the launch our University of Fashion Certificate of Completion program, available to all our paid subscribers.
Sure you can attend fashion school and pay thousands (that is if you are lucky enough to get accepted), but for those in the ‘know’, why not take advantage of 500+ lessons all taught by top fashion college professors and industry pros, learn at your own pace any time of day or night, in the privacy of your own home, rewind and replay a lesson over and over until you get it, at a fraction of the cost of fashion school?
Ask any of our subscribers, UoF’s customer service is top notch! Have a question about one of our lessons? No problem, our teachers are ready, willing and able to answer them within 24 hours. We always love hearing from our students.

Now You Can Earn a UoF Certificate for Your Efforts


(Image credit: University of Fashion subscriber draping and sewing a dress)

How UoF’s Certificate of Completion Program Works

(Image credit: An example of a  student’s My Learning page – listing lessons ‘in-progress’ & 100% completed)

All University of Fashion paid subscribers can now receive a Certificate of Completion for any and all completed lessons and lectures. You can track your individual progress toward earning a certificate by clicking on the My Learning tab on the left side of your Account page. Here you can track all of your lessons and your lesson progress.

(Image credit: University of Fashion student calculating fabric consumption & costing a garment)

 

Is there a Cost for a UoF Certificate of Completion?

No. There is NO extra charge for a University of Fashion Certificate of Completion. If you are a paid monthly or yearly subscriber and completed one of our lessons, you are eligible to obtain a certificate. Our certificate program just launched and we have subscribers who have already earned 20+ certificates!

(Image credit:Example of a student’s My Learning page showing lesson discipline, certificate & date earned)

 

Benefits of a UoF Certificate of Completion

Beyond that feeling of accomplishment at having learned and mastered a new subject or technique, there are many other benefits to earning our Certificates:

  • Present your certificates to prospective employers, along with examples of your completed draped, drafted and sewn projects
  • Include UoF certificates to your portfolio for job application and college admission purposes
  • Frame your certificates as proof of your competence in multidisciplines to your clients
  • Export and email your certificates to your instructors for extra credit
  • Prove to your employer that you have up-skilled in a particular area
  • Demonstrate to a school administrator proof of your competence and proficiency in teaching additional subjects

Spread the word! Start completing lessons and printing out your UoF certificates. Let us know how many you’ve earned!

SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS PART 3: FUR – WOOL – DOWN ALTERNATIVES

 

Stella McCartney champions ethical fashion with fur-free collection. (Photo Credit: Stella McCartney)

Design is not just about product. Design is about responsibility.”

If you haven’t already seen this quote by Dr. Carmen Hijosa of Piñatex, you will, it is ubiquitous on the web. Every eco-friendly brand uses it as its mantra. And, every fashion student in every school on the planet is making sure that they incorporate it into every single one of their classes. After all, if the design process starts at desk of the designer, well then, it’s up to us to be on top of alternative textile and material choices when designing a collection.

In 2021, Google launched a fashion supply chain platform called called Global Fibre Impact Explorer (GFIE) in partnership with Stella McCartney, The Textile Exchange and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), to help fashion brands understand the environmental risk of their raw material sourcing. The tool, which is built on Google Earth Engine and uses Google Cloud computing, assesses the environmental risk of different fibers across regions in terms of environmental factors such as air pollution, biodiversity, climate and greenhouse gases, forestry and water use. In 2022, Google and WWF transitioned GFIE to Textile Exchange, a global non-profit focused on positively impacting climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry. Their Friend Level Membership is reserved for small to medium-sized enterprises that generate under $5million in annual revenue, as well as universities, non-profits and NGOs.

Last week we educated our viewers on earth-friendly leather and silk alternatives, that are being created using a variety of materials made from pineapples to coffee grounds, sea shells, cactus, bamboo, mushrooms and spiders, just to name a few. This week we’d like to focus on fur and wool alternatives.

Cruelty-free Fur Alternatives

Last Chance for Animals – Global Ban on Fur (Image credit: lcanimals.com) 

The wearing of fur, just like leather and silk, has long been associated with luxury and wealth. However, beginning in the 1980s and after decades of massive pressure from PETA & activists, many designers and retailers announced that they would stop selling fur due to the cruel methods used in killing the animals. In 2019, California became the first state to make it illegal to sell, donate or manufacture new fur products and in 2021, Israel became the first country to ban the sale of fur clothing, although their are several carve-outs, including one for educational reasons and another that permits residents to buy skins and pelts for religious purposes.

Enter…Tencel® and Koba® faux fur

Faux fur was first introduced in 1929 but didn’t become popular until the 1950s. Due to fur’s growing unpopularity since the 1980s and the fact that many countries are now banning fur farms, the use of faux fur increased. Two reports issued by eco experts at Ce Delft, an independent research and consultancy company, found that five faux fur coats have significantly less impact on climate change than that of one mink fur coat.

Since most faux fur is manufactured with non-renewable petroleum-based products and synthetic fabrics it can be toxic to the environment unless it is recycled properly. Today, technologies and innovations offer new ways to design amazing and ethical alternatives to fur and fake fur as well. Popular kinds of faux fur include faux rabbit, faux fox, shearling, sheepskin, and sherpa and luxury faux fur fabrics include chinchilla, sable, beaver, ermine, marten, lynx, and leopard.

KOBA®  the first vegan faux fur (Image credit: Ecopel.com)

Ecopel, a leader in the development of high end faux fur, supplies more than 300 top fashion brands that have stopped using real fur. In partnership with Dupont, they launched KOBA® faux fur, integrating DuPont™ Sorona® fibers, creating the first faux fur made with vegetal ingredients.

UGG’s new faux fur shoe brand using Tencel®  fiber (Image credit: Tencel.com)  

Lenzing, a leader in the field of botanic cellulose fibers and famous for its flagship brand Tencel®, is providing solutions to faux fur production. Their fibers are derived from certified renewable wood sources using an eco-responsible production process that generates up to 50% lower emissions and water impact compared to generic viscose. In 2021, the company partnered with UGG and debuted Plant Power, a collection of shoes made with carbon-neutral, plant-based materials.

Wool Alternatives

Spinnova partners with the outdoor brand The North Face. (Photo Credit: The North Face)

As we have previously reported, controversies surrounding leather and fur are well-known, however there is a common misconception that wool is a ‘gentle’ fabric that simply implies a ‘haircut’ for sheep. Wrong. According to Plant Based News, “One little-known fact about wool production is its environmental impact: sheep, just like cows, emit large quantities of methane gas, which has several times the global warming potential of CO2. The 2017 Pulse of Fashion Industry Report put wool in the fourth place on its list of the fashion materials that had the highest cradle-to-gate environmental impact per kg of material.” And that doesn’t even touch on the undercover reports of the systemic cruelty involved and the abuse the animals suffer.

Enter…hemp, organic cotton, Tencel®, Spinnova®,  soybean fiber, linen, bamboo, woocoa and nullarbor

Wool had its peak in the 1990s and then continued to be replaced by synthetics and cotton blends. Today’s eco-conscious consumers are shunning animal-derived or petroleum-based fabrics and are searching for alternatives. Luckily, there are options. From cotton to wood to coconuts and soybeans, technology is helping drive the movement. As we have already discussed, Tencel is a great replacement and we covered the benefits of organic hemp, cotton, linen and bamboo in a previous blog. 

But did you know about Woocoa? This is a material created by a group of university students in Colombia made from a coconut and hemp fiber ‘wool’, treated with enzymes from the oyster mushroom. Keep you eye on this space. Another bio-tech creation is Nullarbor, developed by Australian material innovation company Nanolloose. This fabric is created by using bacteria to ferment liquid coconut waste from the food industry into cellulose. Spinnova

Spinnova® is a fiber made by Spinnova, a Finnish sustainable materials company. They are the only company in the world able to create textile fiber out of cellulose without involving any harmful chemicals, minimal water use and emissions, and zero waste.  The company has worked with a number of recognized brands, such as Bestseller, The North Face and Marimekko, in fact, Adidas is one of their investors.

A Pangaia fitted short puffer. (Photo Credit: Pangaia)

Down Alternatives

A little known fact about the use of down feathers in the production of down jackets, handbags, pillows and comforters is the level of cruelty involved in the extraction of the feathers. According to Gentle World, “while most down and other feathers are removed from ducks and geese during slaughter, birds in breeding flocks and those raised for meat may be plucked repeatedly while they are still alive. This process is repeated every 6-7 weeks before the bird’s eventual slaughter (or death from the trauma of the plucking process itself). For birds that have been killed for their flesh and/or internal organs (foie gras) the process usually involves scalding the birds’ bodies in hot water for one to three minutes so the feathers are easier to pull out. The body feathers can then be plucked (often by hand), after which the down is removed by hand or machine.”

Where using polyester microfiber was once considered a cruelty-free alternative to down comforters and clothing they use a mass-produced petroleum-based polyester, a nonrenewable resource. They are also known to contain chlorinated phenols, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carcinogenic dyes, allergens and irritants. The production of these materials require a lot of energy, are impossible to break down and eventually end up in landfills.

Enter…next-gen down

Rather than using a polyester microfiber, try a next-gen down, which uses plants, recycled PET, or other sustainable materials to create the pillowy feeling many brands and customers crave. While many, like H&M and Jack Wolfskin, have incorporated next-gen down into some of their products, Pangaia, a materials science company and Save the Duck are two companies that have set up a ‘business-to-business’ line selling their eco-friendly down alternatives to other brands.

Pangaia’s FLWRDWN™ is a bio-based down-fill material made using a combination of wildflowers, a biopolymer (made from maize (corn) and is fully compostable) and a patented biodegradable aerogel. This warm, breathable and animal-friendly innovation is the first of its kind and is used in their outerwear jackets, vests and accessories.

Save the Duck’s RECYCLED PLUMTECH® is a padding made by polyester fiber entirely coming from recycled materials, including plastic bottles. All the jackets from the RECYCLED collection are distinguished by the green and white logo.

A large part of unsustainable fashion is the result of poor fabric choice. Many materials that make it into our clothes harm humans, animals, and the environment. Not to mention, they release harmful chemicals and microplastics into our environment for hundreds of years. So, all of you designers out there, get onboard the eco-textile train. It starts with YOU!

Are you as excited as we are about material innovation and the exciting developments that are still to come?

 

CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH – UNIVERSITY OF FASHION STYLE

Happy Juneteenth!

In celebration of Juneteenth, we’ve launched the first in our 5-part series on West African textiles taught by Mina Dia-Stevens. Mina’s first lesson covers the Faso Dan Fani Cloth of Burkina Faso and how this many hundreds-of-years-old textile, considered the woven loincloth of the homeland, was handed down from generation to generation. Not only is Faso Dan Fani Cloth the national symbol of Burkina Faso, it also commemorates the country’s emancipation from colonialism in 1960 and the country’s name change from The Republic of Upper Volta to Burkina Faso in 1984.

In this series, Mina discusses African textile yarns, threads, and the local, seasonal, and traditional materials that are native to specific West African countries. Mina also covers traditional methods of production and how the processes are still maintained and celebrated today. Her journey continues with lessons on the textiles of other West African countries such as Mali, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, so stay tuned!

The first in a 5-part series covering the textiles of West Africa by Mina Dia-Stevens: West African Textiles- Faso Dan Fani Cloth of Burkina Faso

Our newest Instructor: Mina Dia-Stevens (Photo credit Mina Dia-Stevens)

 Mina Dia-Stevens is a 19-year veteran of the fashion industry, as life-long creative, educator and design entrepreneur. As a faculty member for twelve years in the fashion department at Moore College of Art and Design, Mina provided instruction to second- and third-year design students, in the areas of pattern making, construction, illustration, and concept design, in the categories of menswear, swimwear, womenswear and childrenswear. She has also researched, established, and implemented, extensive curriculum for 9th, 10th, 11th– and 12th-grade creatives in the areas of fashion and textile design.

Mina’s professional experience includes various roles in the fashion industry ranging from designing junior activewear apparel to shoe design and trend consulting. Currently, Mina is involved in expanding her family’s West African textile business into the brand, Royal Fulani Living.

As a design entrepreneur, Mina fully understands the delicate balance between nurturing an independent artistic spirit with a business mind. Her philosophy as a creative and educator is based upon words that she vividly remembers hearing as a child:

“You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” –  Glinda from The Wizard of Oz

For Mina, this quote encompasses the mind, heart, and spirit of who she is as an educator of young visionaries. She not only leads her students through the educational process but nurtures their creativity for a lifetime. We are thrilled that Mina is now part of the distinguished instructors at UoF.

Image courtesy: Custom Collaborative 

Celebrating Our 2-year Anniversary with Custom Collaborative

We are also celebrating our 2-year partnership with Custom Collaborative, a New York City-based entrepreneurship and workforce development program, founded in 2015, that trains and empowers low-income and immigrant women of color to start careers in the fashion industry.

Since 2020, Custom Collaborative’s fashion-preneurs have expressed their appreciation to us in both words and deeds, for donating full access to our fashion education library.

Thank you for giving me the chance of membership and scholarship to increase my skill and to take a step forward in my life to support myself.”  ~ Kulwant Kaur

I would personally like to thank you for this amazing opportunity to participate in the University of Fashion.  I’m so excited and grateful for your generous gift.  I’ll give a 💯 and the best of abilities. Thank you for the beautiful blessings” ~ Regina Madison

It is an honor to be chosen for the University of Fashion scholarship. 

 I am truly grateful for this opportunity. This scholarship allows me to focus on my studies and additional work opportunities. Thank you for your support.” ~ María Isabel Espinoza

I never knew about this amazing opportunity until Custom Collaborative a few Wednesdays ago. I have been so hungry to learn more about garment construction and I am thankful to you for founding University of Fashion so I can learn and be exposed to much more. Thank You.” ~ Analisa Charles

Image courtesy: Custom Collaborative

Ngozi Okaro Executive Director Custom Collaborative (Photo: Heather Sten)

We’d like to give a special shout-out to CC’s executive Director Ngozi Okaro for her dedication in helping so many women reach their potential.

And how about Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic for The New York Times (and Constance C.R. White) who just recognized Custom Collaborative on June 17th in Vanessa’ s Open Thread column along with other hot Black-owned brands.

Fun Fact: Constance White gave me, Francesca Sterlacci, my first WWD cover!

So, as we celebrate Juneteenth, it’s a time for all of us to keep on supporting small businesses run by Black founders. Our new fav is Brooklyn-based Parron Allen, a soon to be UoF instructor, who specializes in super fab sustainable design clothing. Check him out and stay tuned…

So, tell us, how are you supporting Black brands?

UoF Instructor Spotlight: Meet Robyn Smith

UoF Instructor Robyn Smith (Photo credit: Robyn Smith)

Join us in welcoming our newest instructor, Robyn Smith. Robyn is a talented fashion designer, illustrator, and visual artist that hails from Baltimore Maryland. Her love for designing was inspired by her older sister who would design prom gowns for her classmates. From the early age of nine, Robyn developed an eye for fashion and knew that she wanted to pursue a career in design.

After high school graduation Robyn moved to New York City and attended Parsons School of Design. While at Parsons she achieved several accomplishments: winning the Zack Carr fashion designer award, winning the Jasco Fabrics design competition, an internship competition with the Gap and interning with fashion designer Peter Som.

From college, Robyn went on to design for the House of Deréon in 2005 and traveled to Hong Kong and Mainland China where she participated in sample fittings, sourced fabrics, and developed new designs to incorporate into the line.  After designing for House of Deréon, Robyn transitioned to a fourteen-year career as a menswear ‘cut and sew’ knit designer for American Rag, Macy’s private label young men’s brand and later became CAD Director for Macy’s, Inc.

Menswear illustration (Image courtesy Robyn Smith)

Robyn’s positions as a designer and design director not only provided her with an opportunity to travel the world for production purposes, but also to conduct trend analysis and market research in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and L.A.

Fashion illustration (Image courtesy Robyn Smith)

In addition to Robyn’s design career, she is also a famous fashion illustrator and visual artist.  Her fashion Illustrations were featured in the book entitled ‘Fashion Illustration’ by Chai Xiuming and Lu Haoyan, and in 2021, Robyn designed a beautiful plus size collection called ‘Robyn Nichole’ in collaboration with the fast fashion brand Shein.

Plus size fashion illustration (Image courtesy Robyn Smith)

In addition to designing fashion, Robyn participated in the Ace Hotel’s 2021 group art show entitled ‘Ours’, where her work was featured in their hotel gallery space with proceeds used to benefit the Teen Art Salon (TAS), a 501c3 non-profit organization in Long Island City that supports, develops, and promotes adolescent artists, and demystifies the process of starting a career as an artist.

Illustrations courtesy Robyn Smith

As every seasoned designer knows, pulling inspiration from the Visual Arts helps you to develop a new thinking process when approaching your fashion illustrations, thus creating a more distinctive portfolio. In Robyn’s first lesson for UoF, Creating a Menswear Fashion Illustration inspired by Visual Arts, she will teach you how to find inspiration from an art museum resource and, by focusing on the details, shapes, and colors found in the image, create a unique fashion design and illustration.

This advanced lesson will teach you how to create an illustration using a pencil, gouache, brushes, and markers.  And, you’ll learn how to draw and paint eyewear, create hair textures­­­, and how to use your inspirational images to make a design within your illustration.

(Preview of Robyn Smith’s first UoF lesson: Creating a Menswear Illustration Inspired by Visual Arts)

Stay tuned for more lessons by Robyn for UoF. In the meantime, follow Robyn and her work at:

Website: www.robynnichole.com

IG: Robyn_the_Creator  https://www.instagram.com/robyn_the_creator/

TikTok: @Robyn_the_Creator  https://www.tiktok.com/@robyn_the_creator

Youtube: Robyn_the_Creator https://www.youtube.com/c/RobynTheCreator

The Influential Textile Designs of Jacqueline Groag

Jacqueline Groag

        Jacqueline Groag 1959 (Photo credit: John Garner/ University of Brighton Design Archives)

Czech-born Jacqueline Groag (1903-1985) was an influential textile designer in Great Britain following World War II. She studied textile design during the 1920s with Franz Cisek and Josef Hoffmann at Wiener Werkstätte, a workshop of applied arts in Vienna. Groag produced and designed fabrics for leading Parisian fashion houses including Chanel, Lanvin, House of Worth, Schiaparelli and Paul Poiret, as well as London textile houses David Whitehead, Grafton, John Lewis and Liberty.

Born as Hilde Pick to Jewish parents on April 6, 1903, she later changed her name to Jacqueline Groag when she married modernist architect and interior designer Jacques Groag in 1937. In 1938, Jacqueline and Jacques fled to Prague due to the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany and then to London following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. Once in London, the design duo were invited into the famed British Design Factory, where design greats of the Arts & Crafts and Modernist movements were members, such as Sir Gordon RussellSir Charles Reilly and Jack Pritchard.

For over 20 years Groag worked as a freelance designer creating designs for carpets, greetings cards, laminates, plastics, textiles, wallpapers and wrapping paper. In 1984 she became a Fellow of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry and is considered a central figure in textile design during the 1950s, along with textile designers Lucienne Day and Marian Mahler.

Palm Springs Art Museum: Pattern Play-The Contemporary Designs of Jacqueline Groag

In 2008, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center launched an exhibition entitled, Designing Women: Art and the Modern Interior from Postwar Britain, featuring the work of Jacqueline Groag, Lucienne Day and Marian Mahler.

And on Wednesday May 11, 2022, in my newly adopted hometown of Palm Springs, California, I was invited to the opening of the Jacqueline Groag exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Living in Palm Springs is beyond inspirational. Not only is it a great place to live (even if the summers do go up to 120 degrees), it’s the home of some of the greatest Mid-Century Modern architecture created by the likes of Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Albert Frey, A.Quincy Jones, Donald Wexler, Richard Harrison, E. Stewart Williams, William Krisel and William Cody. So in keeping with this love of Modernism, I’d like to share some highlights from the Jacqueline Groag show:

Jacqueline Groag show

 Jacqueline Groag 1946 Printed nylon dress manufactured by Fabricado for F.W. Grafton & Co. Manchester, England

Jacqueline Grog designed a wide range of dress fabrics for F.W. Grafton during the 1940s. One of Groag’s Grafton patterns, a classic tulip motif, was chosen by the British fashion couturier Edward Molyneux for a dress he designed for HRH Princess Elizabeth. The photo below shows the future queen wearing the tulip print dress in September 1946.

Princess Elizabeth

                              Jacqueline Groag’s ‘Tulip Print’ dress worn by HRH Princess Elizabeth 1946

Toy Parade print

             Jacqueline Groag ‘Toy Parade’ dress print on cotton 1955 -Manufactured by Fabricado for Associated American Artists

 

Jacqueline Groag- Furnishing fabric roller-printed spun rayon Haworth Fabrics England

    Jacqueline Groag- Furnishing fabric roller-printed spun rayon Haworth Fabrics England

Puppet PrintJacqueline Groag’s ‘Puppet Ballet’ dress fabric 1953 – printed cotton manufactured by Fabricado for Associated American Artists

Groag dressesJacqueline Groag textile printed dresses 1953

First night print     Jacqueline Groag’s ‘First Night’ dress print 1947 – manufactured by Fabricado for Associated American Artists, New York

Jacqueline Groag originally conceived her “First Night’ dress print in 1938 for Elsa Schiaparelli, who, together with Coco Chanel, dominated fashion between the two World Wars. First Night was based on Groag’s drawing of the audience during opening night at the Paris Opera. The fabric was sold in the United States under the name Gala Night.

For More Info on the Groags & the Viennese Modern Movement

Groag book

Read more about Jacques and Jacqueline Groag and the Viennese Modernist movement: Groag: Architect and Designer

Groag textile book

For more on Groag’s textile designs read: Jacqueline Groag: Textile & Pattern Design: Wiener Werkstatte to American Modern

 

Lucienne Day book

To learn more about Lucienne Day read Lucienne Day: In the Spirit of the Age

Be sure to check out UoF’s textile design lessons:

Introduction To Textile Print Design

Introduction To Textile Print Design

Researching & Designing A Graphic Printed Textile

Researching & Designing A Graphic Printed Textile

Recoloring Textile Artwork

 

 

 

Custom Collaborative’s Designer-preuners Strut Their Stuff

- - Fashion School

Founded in 2015, Custom Collaborative is a New York City-based entrepreneurship and workforce development program that trains and empowers low-income and immigrant women of color to start careers in sustainable fashion.

In February 2020, University of Fashion partnered with Custom Collaborative by gifting full access to the UoF fashion education content library. Since then, Custom Collaborative’s fashion-preneurs have expressed their appreciation to us in both words and deeds.

Thank you for giving me the chance of membership and scholarship to increase my skill and to take a step forward in my life to support myself.”  ~ Kulwant Kaur

I would personally like to thank you for this amazing opportunity to participate in the University of Fashion.  I’m so excited and grateful for your generous gift.  I’ll give a 💯 and the best of abilities. Thank you for the beautiful blessings” ~ Regina Madison

It is an honor to be chosen for the University of Fashion scholarship. 

 I am truly grateful for this opportunity. This scholarship allows me to focus on my studies and additional work opportunities. Thank you for your support.” ~ María Isabel Espinoza

I never knew about this amazing opportunity until Custom Collaborative a few Wednesdays ago. I have been so hungry to learn more about garment construction and I am thankful to you for founding University of Fashion so I can learn and be exposed to much more. Thank You.” ~ Analisa Charles

University of Fashion’s mission, since its inception in 2008, has been ‘to preserve the art & craft of fashion design’. We have since added to that mission: ‘to support a return to domestic production, the fair and ethical treatment of workers and the promotion of sustainable design practices’. Therefore, in 2020, a perfect match was made between UoF and Custom Collaborative. According to Executive Director Ngozi Okaro, much of the fashion industry’s production in the U.S. is done by immigrants for low wages. According to the California Bureau of Labor Statistics, 71% of Los Angeles’ ‘cut & cut’ labor force are immigrants – many undocumented, with limited options for work. Knowing the benefits of our video library and how it could impact the economic status of immigrants, we felt compelled to get involved with Custom Collaborative and assist them in their co-op training program.

Ngozi Okaro – Executive Director Custom Collaborative (Photo: Heather Sten)

I started Custom Collaborative because I wanted to connect women who could create great clothes, to people who wanted quality sustainable fashions that were affirming and attractive. As my idea developed, I discovered that there were many good people who wanted to volunteer with and invest in enterprising women who were creating fashion careers and businesses. Many participants have told the CC staff how they never were paid for fashion work before they got an internship through us, but had worked at unpaid internships; they’ve shared how they no longer feel isolated because they have a new community in CC; and others have talked about how they discovered and unlocked skills and talents that they never knew they had before joining our community. We hope for more funding so we can accept all of the worthy applicants who come to our doors.”

If you are interested in helping support Custom Collaborative, here’s their donation link: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/custom-collaborative

We at UoF are very proud of this collaboration and we always get a rush when we hear from CC’s students.

Meet Some of Custom Collaborative’s Aspiring Entrepreneurs 

Shemoy Simpson designer at Custom Collaborative

Attending the University of Fashion was a great experience for me, I was able to obtain more sewing technical skills and the support I received was well appreciated. The lesson I learned and used this summer was, working with knits and inserting waist bands in different ways, I also learned about the different types of needles and thread that goes with different types of fabric.

During the time of creating my garment I’ve learned to used ballpoint needled, because it’s best for sewing with knit fabric, I used polyester/cotton thread as well. The garment was created with my personal design and measured to fit my body type. I decided to be a little more creative with the waistband by surging it to the neckline, the top waist, the back to create a crisscross look and the pant waist and ankles. The beautiful lavender design is sporty and best for occasions like going to the gym or jogging or just wanting to be comfortable on a sunny day.

My aspirations? Becoming the best version of myself as a designer, being happy and creative is where I thrive. The University of fashion has taught me to be more knowledgeable about the way I construct a garment and with the confidence and consistency to deliver in the real world. Thank you to Francesca for giving me this wonderful opportunity.” ~ Shemoy Simpson

As we begin this new year, let us all try and design more sustainably, advocate for fair wages and help others reach their dreams by giving of ourselves and our talents.

If you are interested in helping support Custom Collaborative, here’s their donation link: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/custom-collaborative. If you are interested in providing paid internships for their students write to us at CS@UniversityofFashion.com