The Vital Role of Back-to-School Fashion in the Ever-Evolving Fashion Industry

Gen Z is embracing the Y2K trend. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for the NY Post)

As the sun-kissed days of summer begin to fade, a palpable excitement fills the air. It’s that time of year again – the season of fresh starts, eager minds and boundless possibilities. Back-to-school, a tradition as old as academia itself, has transformed into a runway for the fashion industry, a crucial showcase of innovation, style, and adaptability. In this era of constant change, where trends emerge and dissipate at the speed of a mouse click, back-to-school fashion stands as a testament to the fashion industry’s vitality and enduring relevance.

Back-to-school fashion acts as a playground where designers, retailers, and consumers alike come to play. It’s a symphony of colors, fabrics, and silhouettes, a canvas where creativity knows no bounds. The industry seizes this opportunity to flex its design muscles, concocting garments that mirror the hopes and aspirations of a new academic year. And has traditionally been a major marketing season for the industry. This year is no exception.

Olivia Rodrigo is a punk rock cutie. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

For the 2023/24 back-to-school season, designers have reimagined classic staples – from plaid skirts and varsity jackets to crisp button-down shirts – infusing them with a modern twist that reflects the evolving tastes of  Generation Z (1995 to 2009) and Generation Alpha (2010 to 2024). These reimagined classics become more than just clothing; they become statements of individuality and belonging. This fusion of timelessness and innovation is a reminder that fashion is, at its core, a celebration of the present, while embracing echoes of the past.

Bella Hadid’s preppy with a twist vibe will surely be a back-to-school hit. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The back-to-school rush serves as a microcosm of the industry’s intricate dance with trends. It’s not merely about forecasting the next big thing; it’s about deciphering the intricate tapestry of consumer preferences. As students head back to their classrooms, they’re not just armed with textbooks – they’re equipped with an arsenal of trends, ready to express themselves in the ever-evolving language of style.

Industry leaders meticulously study the back-to-school market to identify patterns that offer insights into the future. The colors that capture attention, the fabrics that evoke emotion, and the styles that foster confidence all act as signposts, guiding the fashion world towards the next chapter of its narrative.

NUTURING BRAND LOYALTY AND IDENTITY

Nike back-to-school promotional looks. (Photo Credit: Nike)

Back-to-school fashion transcends the realm of aesthetics; it’s an exercise in identity formation. As students walk through the school gates clad in their carefully curated ensembles, they’re broadcasting more than just fashion choices – they’re showcasing their identities, their aspirations, and their stories. This emotional connection fosters brand loyalty that can last a lifetime.

For the industry, this loyalty isn’t just a fleeting affair; it’s an investment in a lifelong relationship. The brands that succeed in capturing the hearts of back-to-school shoppers often become woven into their stories, becoming trusted companions on their journey through life.

SUSTAINABILTY AND ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Levi’s sustainable denim looks. (Photo Credit: Levi’s)

In recent years, the fashion industry has faced increasing scrutiny over its environmental and ethical practices. Back-to-school fashion serves as an opportunity for the industry to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and responsible production. Brands that prioritize eco-friendly materials, ethical labor practices, and conscious consumption are not only shaping their own narratives but also contributing to a broader movement of positive change.

THE ECONOMIC BOOST OF BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING

Back-to-school fashion is an important sales and marketing tool for industry. (Photo Credit: SmartAsset)

The impact of back-to-school shopping on the economy is profound. In 2022, the back-to-school shopping season injected a surge of vitality into various sectors. From retail giants to local boutiques, the cash registers chimed in unison, contributing billions to the GDP. The ripple effect extends beyond traditional school supplies; it’s a time when electronics, clothing, accessories, and even home furnishing experience a surge in demand. The financial heartbeat of countless businesses races as they gear up to cater to the influx of eager shoppers.

According to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, “back-to-school spending is expected to reach an unparalleled $41.5 billion, up from $36.9 billion last year and the previous high of $37.1 billion in 2021. Back-to-college spending is expected to hit $94 billion, about $20 billion more than last year’s record.”

Air Jordan’s and straight leg denim is a back-to-school favorite. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“Back-to-class shopping is one of the most important consumer shopping occasions of the year. Our research for 2023 shows American consumers are eager to jumpstart their back-to-school and college purchases early,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers have been preparing for months to ensure they are well stocked with essential items that families and students need for the school year.”

Since 2003, the National Retail Federation has conducted a thorough survey on back-to-class shopping trends. This year’s research included 7,843 consumers and was fielded June 30-July 6 with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Back-to-school shopping is well underway. According to the National Retail Federation, “as of early July, more than half (55%) of consumers who are buying for back-to-class said they have already started shopping. This is on par with last year, but is up from 44% in 2019, and is in line with the trend of consumers shopping earlier for major spending events. While consumers have started shopping early, as of early July, 85% said they still have at least half of their shopping left to do.”

Planned back to school Source NRF’s Annual 2023 Back to School Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $890.07 on back-to-school items this year, approximately $25 more than last year’s record of $864.35, and a new high. College students and their families are expected to spend an average of $1,366.95 per person, up from $1,199.43 last year, and a new record from the previous record of $1,200.32 in 2021. Since 2019, back-to-college spending has nearly doubled.

Kendeall Jenner’s chill Ninties Vibe. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

For many back-to-school consumers, the leading destinations are online, department stores and discount stores with the more creative and sustainably-minded, hitting up resale clothing shops or are making or upcycling their own clothes.  “Even though consumers plan to spend more on school and college-related items this year, they are still looking to find the best value and deals,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Consumers are stretching their dollars by comparing prices, considering off-brand or store-brand items, and are more likely to shop at discount stores than last year.”

So tell us, what are your back-to-school wardrobe plans? Will you be making or upcycling your own clothes? Thrift shop hunting? Or going traditional: online, department store or mass merchant store?

MENSWEAR FASHION MONTH: HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SPRING 2024 SHOWS

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Dior Men’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Dior)

The Menswear Spring 2024 season has set the stage for a groundbreaking revolution in men’s fashion. Embracing fluidity, inclusivity, sustainability, and innovation, designers have created a mesmerizing symphony of sartorial liberation. The runway serves as a canvas where traditional notions of masculinity are reimagined and reshaped. As the seasons change and fashion evolves, these groundbreaking trends remind us that menswear is not just clothing; it’s an ever-evolving expression of identity, freedom, and creativity.

Throughout Europe, the runways were a playground of limitless possibilities. The season kicked off in London with shows running from June 10 -12th. Then the dapper set were off to Italy, first stop, Pitti Uomo in Florence from June 13-16th and then the excitement of Milan revved up from June 16-20th. Paris of course closed out the season with a bang from June 20-25th. What about New York? The city that never sleeps will show menswear along with Woman’s Fashion Week in early September.

Jacquemus’ Spring 2024 showcase at the Lake Versailles was a sight to behold. (Photo Credit: Lifestyle Asia)

Many designers at Men’s Fashion Week Spring 2024 pulled out all the stops for their show creating over-the-top viral moments that left industry insiders in awe, which is no easy fete. From closed down bridges (Louis Vuitton, Kenzo) to moving floors (Dior Men), and palace-side boat rides (Jacquemus), this season was a spectacle and display of power, wealth, and access reached new heights. So it’s no surprise that according to a tally of the most-viewed men’s shows of SS24 on Vogue Runway, Louis Vuitton came in first place. The show was a star-studded event as everyone anxiously awaited to see Pharrell Williams’s debut for Louis Vuitton. The show was an instant hit and Williams featured “Damoflage” which in Pharrell’s show notes was a fusion between Louis Vuitton’s iconic checkered Damier pattern and traditional camouflage fabric. “Damoflage” appeared across the collection, and truly capsulates Pharrell’s personal avant garde style.

A video of Pharell William’s debut Louis Vuitton Spring 2024 Show. (Video Courtesy of YouTube FF Chanel)

Before we delve into the trends for the Spring 2024 season, here is a brief history on Menswear Fashion Week.

HISTORY

In the realm of fashion, one event stands as a bastion of style and innovation – Men’s Fashion Week. Spanning across four fashion capitals – Milan, Paris, London, and New York – this bi-annual celebration of masculinity has a rich history that weaves together creativity, culture, and couture. Join UoF on a journey through time, as we explore the origins and evolution of Men’s Fashion Week in these iconic cities.

Milan – The Birth of Dapper Debonair

The year was 1971 when Milan hosted its first-ever Men’s Fashion Week, a pioneering moment that brought Italian elegance to the forefront. Spearheaded by visionaries like Giorgio Armani and Nino Cerruti, the Milanese runway showcased sharp tailoring, luxurious fabrics, and a newfound emphasis on minimalistic sophistication. Men’s fashion was no longer relegated to the shadows; it was a statement of confidence and poise.

Paris – The Haute Heritage

Stepping into the elegant city of Paris, we travel back to the origins of Haute Couture. In 1973, Paris welcomed its inaugural Men’s Fashion Week, further solidifying the city’s reputation as a timeless fashion capital. Designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, and Jean-Paul Gaultier infused traditional French savoir-faire with a contemporary flair. Paris became synonymous with avant-garde and artistic expressions that transcended the ordinary.

London – Punks to Peacocks

Across the Channel, London’s Men’s Fashion Week story took a different turn. Emerging in 1984, it began as an edgy, rebellious movement with punk influences, thanks to designers like Vivienne Westwood. Over time, it evolved into a melting pot of diverse styles, from tailored Savile Row classics to eccentric, bold streetwear. London became a playground for experimentation, paving the way for a new generation of men’s fashion designers.

New York – American Dreams and Diversity

Crossing the Atlantic, we find ourselves in the bustling streets of New York. In 1995, the Big Apple hosted its inaugural Men’s Fashion Week, showcasing American dreams and diversity. Designers like Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, and Calvin Klein celebrated masculinity in all its forms – from rugged to refined. New York’s fashion week spotlighted the fusion of traditional American sportswear with cutting-edge contemporary designs.

As the years passed, Men’s Fashion Week in Milan, Paris, London, and New York transformed into a global phenomenon. The event expanded its reach beyond the fashion elite, with social media turning every spectator into a front-row participant. This democratization of fashion allowed designers to connect directly with their audience and opened doors for emerging talents from diverse backgrounds.

In recent years, a profound shift occurred in men’s fashion. Sustainability and ethical practices took center stage. Designers increasingly embraced eco-friendly materials, responsible manufacturing, and gender-neutral designs. Men’s Fashion Week became a platform to promote conscious consumption, making a positive impact on both the planet and society.

TRENDS

SCHOOL DAZE

Designers are feeling nostalgic this season as the schoolboy uniform trend makes its mark on the runway where you will find plenty of oversized blazers paired with tiny shorts.

A look from Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Valentino’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Neil Barrett’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Prada’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Paul Smith’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

VARSITY BLUES

Athletic inspired looks have come back this spring with a collegiate twist.

A look from Kenzo’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Wales Bonner’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Vetements’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Dsquared2’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Saul Mash’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Fashionista)

A look from Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

FLORAL DELIGHT

“Florals for spring? Groundbreaking” is one of the most famous quotes from Miranda Priestly, the notoriously difficult boss in The Devil Wears Prada, but this season the motif is truly fashion forward as 3-D floral appliques made there way onto the menswear runways from a quirky hat to a tailored shirt.

A look from Prada’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Valentino’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring 2024 Show. )(Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Dior Men’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

DEEP POCKETS

It’s time to get to work. Cargo pockets and utilitarian looks are making a splash both on the runway and off.

A look from Études’ Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Li-Ning’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Fashionista)

A look from Fendi’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from MSGM’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Junya Watanabe’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Prada’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

THE GOING OUT TOP

The halter top gets a refresh as the androgynous look gives a 70s meets Y2K vibe.

A look from Saint Laurent’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Acne Studio’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Egonlab’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

So tell us, what is your favorite menswear trend for the spring 2024 season?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing UoF’s Newest Lessons: Drafting Cut & Sew Knits – Part 1

Since launching the University of Fashion in 2008 the mission of the company has always been to preserve the art and craft of fashion design. Now, as we enter our 16th year in business, I am proud to say that we are not only holding to that mission, but have expanded into other areas of fashion education, including fashion retailing and merchandising, visual merchandising, fashion law, influencer marketing and the newest fashion industry area;  3D digital design.

We now have over 500 lessons in 13 different disciplines and we continue to add additional content to our library monthly. In fact, we recently filmed an entire cut & sew knit lesson series in response to student suggestions. From learning about knit fabrics and stretch ratios to drafting knit slopers – you asked & we delivered.

Your Knit Journey Starts Here

Poster frames from 2 lessons : Intro to Knits & Knit Fabric Principles and Introduction to Knit Fabrics preview                                      Knit Fabric Principles preview

The first step when designing a cut and sew knit garment is to learn about knit fabric. In our lesson entitled, Introduction to Knit Fabrics, we demonstrate the difference between woven and knit fabrics and how knit fabric is structured. You will learn the meaning of terms like knit and purl, wale and course and how a weft knit differs from a warp knit. We will teach you about different types of yarns and how knits are made so that you will make the best knit fabric choice for each of your designs.

In our lesson, Knit Fabric Principles, you will learn more about designing with knits. We’ll teach you all about the four characteristics of knit fabrics, what it means when a knit fabric has 1-way, 2-way or 4-way stretch, as well as the six categories of stretch ratio percentages, so that you will be able to draft your knit design for your knit fabric choice.

How to Draft Your Knit Slopers

poster frames of lessons Drafting a Women's Fitted Stable Knit T-shirt from Measurements & Drafting a Women's Relaxed Fit Knit T-shirt from Measurements

Drafting a Women’s Relaxed Fit Knit T-shirt from Measurements

Drafting a pattern from body measurements can be challenging, but not at University of Fashion. When you draft your T-shirt slopers from our lessons, Fitted Stable Knit T-shirt and the Relaxed Fit  T-shirt from Measurements, we provide downloadable charts and diagrams to help you locate all of the key measurement-taking points. We also provide downloadable worksheets so that you can easily record your measurements. The women’s fitted stable knit T-shirt sloper will become the basis for all of your knit designs for 1-way and 2 way stretch fabric.

Body measuring points diagram

Drafting a 4-Way Knit Stretch Sloper

Converting a Stable Knit T-shirt & Sleeve Sloper to 4-way Stretch Knit Sloper preview

Once you’ve drafted your Fitted Stable Knit T-shirt sloper, you’re ready to learn how to convert that sloper to a 4-way knit stretch sloper. Our lesson, Converting a Stable Knit T-shirt & Sleeve Sloper to a 4-way Stretch Knit Sloper, results in a sloper that can be used for all of your activewear, shapewear and swimwear garment designs.

Designing & Drafting a Cut & Sew Knit Legging & Unitard

poster frames for Drafting a Legging lesson and Drafting a Unitard lesson

Drafting a Women’s Knit Unitard preview                                   Drafting a Legging preview

By combining the 4-way Stretch Knit Sloper, drafted in our lesson Converting a Stable Knit T-shirt & Sleeve Sloper to 4-way Stretch Knit, with the legging drafted in our lesson Drafting a Legging, you’ll learn how to combine the two slopers to draft a unitard from our lesson, Drafting a Women’s Knit Unitard.

Designing a Cut & Sew Knit Hoodie

poster frame from lesson Drafting a Hooded Top

Drafting a Hooded Knit Top preview 

Using the sleeveless stable knit T-shirt sloper drafted in our lesson, Drafting a Women’s Fitted Stable Knit T-shirt from Measurements you will learn how to draft a hooded knit top made of a cotton/Lycra single knit jersey. We’ll teach you how to interpret a sketch to so that you can ascertain key measurements, such as the neck drop, the neck opening and the height and width of the hood.

Stay tuned for more cut & sew knit lessons: Drafting a Camisole with a Shelf Bra, a Racerback Halter Tank; and a knit neckline series that includes: how to draft an Asymmetric, Built-up, Boatneck, Collared, Cowl, Crewneck, Off  Shoulder, Scoop, Square, Surplice, Turtleneck and a V-Neckline.

 

 

Fashion Industry’s Top Recruiter: Sue Lamoreaux

 

Sue Lamoreaux Managing Director at Solomon Page

Sue Lamoreaux – Managing Director at Solomon Page (Image credit: Solomon Page)

If you have been working in the fashion industry for a while, then you probably already know that the best executive recruiting firm is Solomon Page. And, if you’re lucky, you may have already met Sue Lamoreaux, one of the founding members of Solomon Page.

This week’s blog is dedicated to Sue, who is celebrating her 32nd year with SP. She has been placing candidates in roles ranging from Presidents, VP’s, Directors, Chief Commercial officers, Supply Chain, Marketing leads, Global Sourcing, ECommerce, Chief Digital, General Managers (GM’s), Product Development, Creative Directors, in addition to strategic mid-level positions across all disciplines in the fashion industry.

In 2022, and for the sixth year in a row, Forbes named Solomon Page as one of America’s Best Professional Recruiting firms.

I have personally known Sue for years, ever since I was chair of the Fashion Dept. at FIT. Sue regularly gave of her time critiquing, advising and guiding graduating students on their portfolios, resumes and interview preparation (she has been doing the same for Parsons for the past 10 years).

Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Sue to talk about the job market, current and future hiring trends in the fashion industry, and how the industry is utilizing University of Fashion for upskilling its personnel. Sue is a treasure trove of information, and I am thrilled and honored that she has agreed to share her knowledge with us. Here goes:

Francesca: What are the main jobs you recruit for in the fashion industry?

 Sue: I recruit Design Directors, VP of Design, Creative Directors, Merchandising, Planning, Digital Marketing, Brand Marketing, Ecommerce, Technical Design, Sales, Global Sourcing /Production, Supply Chain/Operation. These would be the most frequent, but there are plenty of other titles and categories in Fashion that I place.

fashion industry job titles

Francesca: Can you give salary ranges for each job?

Sue: This is a tricky question since the salaries vary from city/state, companies, associated benefits packages, a job’s specific responsibilities, if it’s hybrid or on site (salary adjustments post Covid). The hot topic right now is salary equity for those who are back in office versus those who are permitted to remain remote or hybrid (as commuting and tax situations can result in cost differences). I have found that many candidates are assuming that they will still have the option to be hybrid or remote when seeking a new job, but the majority of New York area companies have a return to office directive and new employees will especially have even less flexibility than most. It’s always best to ask upfront about specific related policies, since this is not a negotiating point for most companies.

Francesca: How important is going to a fashion school for someone looking for a job as a designer, a product developer, etc.?

 Sue: Very important… Some companies even have a baseline requirement for a bachelor’s degree, or at least an associate’s degree, and there are many competing candidates who have master’s degrees that you will be competing with for candidate selection. But the relevant skills are still critical in your application.

I know many graduates of design schools who needed supplementary technical construction training, since many of the schools don’t spend enough time in the semester honing the craft. I always recommend taking that needed course with University of Fashion so you can be confident in your skills. Prospective employers expect you to know garment construction and specs before you start working and not to be learning/teaching on the job.

Francesca: Are there certain fashion schools that employers value most? And why?

Sue: There’s a wide variety… FIT, Parsons, CSM, SCAD, Otis, RISD, Kent, Marist College, University of Cincinnati, among others.  Sometimes it’s the knowledge and endorsement of the faculty, or the hiring manager is an alumnus, or sometimes it has to do with the way the programs are structured, and they know the students have worked substantive internships all 4 years. Companies like when they can hire a graduate who has had work experience at a brand they know. Or even stay on part time during the school year, post working in the summer of junior year work experience.  Brand experience matters much more than a study abroad program your junior year of college, if you are weighing out whether or not it’s worth it or will make a difference in your application.

list of fashion schools

Francesca: For product development positions, do companies require hands on knowledge of on-the-table skills such as pattern making, sewing, and draping?

Sue: Yes, it’s very important for product development people to have foundational knowledge of garment construction. Many times, they are involved in the fit sessions and it’s important when they are looking at cost, fabric capabilities, what will work, and offering options/alternatives for better pricing etc.  Sometimes companies forgo the designer and just have a product developer who could be creating private label for their accounts and are adapting and modifying garments for the client. They don’t always need to sketch, and many times have a great overseas partner to work with.

Francesca: How important is a portfolio in a job search?

Sue:  A designer must have a portfolio; a pdf of work that is ready to go (and can be edited easily) and/or a website that is easy to access. Remember, many may be looking at your website from their phone, so be sure it’s easy to view from a mobile device.

 

portfolio

Francesca: Can you provide insight into what should be included in a portfolio for a design position?

Sue: It should be comprised of several components: Trend/aspirational boards showing images, color, fabric and details. Illustrations are important, flats and something technical to show you can execute a tech pack. Additionally, computer work, Photoshop, illustrator is a baseline requirement for everyone! As soon as your work is being viewed, it takes an experienced hiring manager seconds to determine if he/she connects with your style, your brand messaging, and your technical accuracy. If they don’t connect, you probably won’t be asked to interview.

View UoF’s 9-part series on how to plan a stellar portfolio:

Creating An Inspiration Board and Creating A Customer Board

Creating a Mood Board and Inspiration Board

Creating a Fabric Board and Creating a Color Story

Creating a Design Development Board and Flats & Figure Board

Creating a Fashion Figure Line Sheet

Francesca: How in demand is 3D design education in the industry?

Sue: Some companies have invested heavily in it and will only interview candidates who have been trained on it, since it’s expensive for them to train you and you will have a transition of time before you are proficient. So, if you have the opportunity to learn it, it’s in your best interest to learn it!

Browzwear: Introduction to 3D and V Stitcher

Francesca: Is agism a ’thing’ in the fashion industry?

Sue: Age and experience are not something to hide! Experienced people are the managers and leaders of companies. VP level, SVP, Chief, President, CEO’s all need experience in order to have earned that position. With that said, it is critical to stay up to date on key technology skills and things like industry trends and purchasing habits. Continuing to educate yourself ensures and protects your longevity in the industry.

Francesca: How hard is it for someone right out of school to get a job?

Sue: Right now, the hiring market is soft, but people who have work experience during college and have standout work in their portfolios, the right skills companies are in need of, and are seeking work in the growing disciplines, they are still getting jobs. If you don’t get hired full-time, see if you can get an entry level freelance job so you can earn some work experience and brand to document.

Francesca: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about a design job in the fashion industry?

Sue: Get your education at the best place you can, be sure you work during school and set your expectations realistically. You may not ultimately be a runway designer, but you could just as valuable as a technical design/patternmaker, who is the right hand to the Design Director. (i.e.: if the garment doesn’t fit, the customer isn’t buying it!).

tech pack for swimwear

University of Fashion’s lesson: Creating a Swim Bottom Tech Pack in Illustrator

Francesca: How can working with a recruiter help me in my job search and where can I go about making those contacts?

 Sue: Working with an experienced recruiter is a huge plus, but not every company will pay for the service. Many companies post jobs on their own website and LinkedIn. Entry level jobs are infrequently listed with recruiters and are addressed internally, generally. Sometimes I will get an entry level assignment because the internal recruiting has been unsuccessful, so always ask.

If you are able to work with a recruiter for a particular search the benefit will be that you will have guidance for interview preparation, portfolio recommendations, resume tips, salary negotiation assistance, etc. Honesty, it is very important in this partnership. Please know that if you have already submitted your resume to a company on your own, your recruiter will be blocked from representing you for that role.

Solomon Page logo

Francesca: What are some things I should be sure to highlight in my resume, cover letter, and portfolio that employers look out for? And how can I make myself stand out to an employer when I am one of so many candidates applying for a role?

Sue: They look for relevant experience to their brand identity and the specific position they are recruiting for. Research the company and say something about them. Look at their job post. For example, if they want 3D experience and you don’t have it, you probably won’t get flagged to interview. Or if your portfolio work is so different than their aesthetic, you may not be selected.

 Francesca: What advice would you give to someone going on an initial interview?

 Sue: Remember, first interviews are still predominantly video. Be prepared for that.  Make sure that you can upload everything smoothly and quickly while you are speaking.  Be sure to load whatever video format the company is using to your computer well before the interview, so it’s ready to go (I have 5 different brands loaded on my computer, so don’t assume that everyone uses, Zoom) And of course the obvious, research the company!

Computer interview

 

Be sure to subscribe to the Solomon Page Blog, where you’ll find lots of free tips:

Francesca: What is your outlook for the future of employment within the fashion industry? Which sectors do you predict will grow and which do you think may decline?

Sue: Marketing is still the biggest department for fashion companies. Looking for work in this area and all of the subsets (i.e., brand marketing, digital marketing, performance marketing, social, ecommerce, communication, etc.) gives you a better chance of finding work. Some departments, such as sales, have shrunk (but not gone away) as more companies are direct-to-consumer (DTC), although there still is a need for good salespeople to be represented in a brick & mortar setting.

Many thanks to Sue for sharing her expertise with our UoF subscribers and followers. Here is Sue’s contact info should you want to thank her yourself:

Susan Lamoreaux

Solomon Page

P (212) 824-1580 x2582

C  (908) 451-5537
in Connect with me

WEBSITE LINKEDIN FACEBOOK TWITTER INSTAGRAM

 

BARBIE’S WORLD: A COSTUME DESIGNER’S DREAM COME TRUE

Barbie movie’s main trailer.( Video Courtesy of YouTube·Warner Bros. Pictures)

If you asked some of today’s fashion designers what inspired them to pursue a career in fashion, odds are that they would tell you it was their Barbie doll. UoF’s founder, Francesca Sterlacci, is definitely one of them. Many young girls (and boys) often started out playing with baby dolls (or, if you grew up in the 1950s a Patty Play Pal), but once they got a look at Barbie, with her 11.5 inch human figure, 39″ bust, nipped-in waist, waterfall blonde ponytail, zebra-print swimsuit and kitten heels (known to collectors as “Ponytail Number One”)…they never went back! Launched by Mattel in 1959, Barbie took the world by storm with sales of 300,000 dolls in its first year of production. According to Mattel, there are in excess of 100,000 collectors of Barbie dolls worldwide today, with Düsseldorf collector, Bettina Dorfman (age 61) the Guinness Book of Records record-holder for her 18,500-strong Barbie collection that is currently worth $307,500.

Bay dolls and Patty Play Pal Doll

Kissy Dolls and a Patty Play Pal doll by Ideal (Image credit: Etsy.com)

 

Barbie dolls circa 1960s

Barbie dolls circa 1960s (Image credit: Etsy.com)

As the highly anticipated Barbie movie hits the big screen on July 21, 2023, it’s impossible not to reflect back at the doll that captured the imagination of so many. To learn more about Barbie’s evolution, representing 150 careers and more than 40 nationalities in the 64 years of her existence, read our blog post from July 2022 entitled, Barbiecore & Why Barbie is Not Just Some Dumb Blonde.

Today, over 90 percent of American girls between the ages of 3 to 12 have owned a Barbie doll. And even though, throughout the years, Barbie has assumed many professions, from doctor and archeologist, to rock star and computer engineer, for many she remains a stereotype. It therefore took incredible guts and vision for Margot Robbie to accept the iconic role of Barbie and for Greta Gerwig to direct it, especially in the #MeToo era. Thier decision carried a profound significance, as Robbie’s portrayal breaks stereotypes and challenges traditional gender norms.

The plot hinges on Margot Robbie Barbie (apparently there are other characters also named Barbie and Ken), being expelled from Barbie Land for being a less-than-perfect-looking doll. She somehow snaps out of her dollhouse mentality, suddenly gets flat feet and starts thinking about dying. She then embarks on a journey to the human world “to find true happiness” where she meets a range of differently abled and raced Barbies along the way, thereby conveying an empowering message.

Barbie’s fashion choices play a pivotal role in showcasing diversity and inclusivity through the work of a very talented costume designer (Jacqueline Durran) and her selective network of fashion industry designers that include, Stella McCartney, Christian Siriano and Iris van Herpen. Let’s dive into the fashion-forward world of Barbie and explore how these incredible designers brought Barbie’s glamorous big screen looks to life.

JACQUELINE DURRAN CREATES FASHION MAGIC

Margot Robbie as Barbie in the new Barbie film. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Margot Robbie as Barbie in the new Barbie film. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Barbie has always been renowned for her impeccable fashion sense, setting trends and inspiring millions of fans worldwide. In the movie, Barbie’s wardrobe undergoes a remarkable evolution, reflecting the diverse and ever-changing world we live in. The fashion choices presented on-screen celebrate body positivity, inclusivity and the importance of self-expression. Summer 2022, when the movie was being filmed, became the summer of Barbiecore, as every celebrity, It-Girl, and social-media darling dressed in head-to-toe pink in anticipation of the Barbie movie. The trend continued into 2023.

Fun Fact: Barbie’s home was inspired by the midcentury modernism designs found in Palm Springs, California and the iconic Barbie Dreamhouses. And, that the making of Barbie Land caused an international shortage of pink paint?

Barbie’s disco look. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Barbie and Ken’s western looks. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Before delving into the collaborative efforts, it is important to acknowledge Jacqueline Durran’s incredible talent as a costume designer. With a portfolio that includes award-winning work in films like “Anna Karenina” and “Little Women,” Durran has established herself as a visionary in the industry. Her keen eye for detail, historical accuracy, and her ability to craft characters through costume, make her a sought-after collaborator for directors and fashion houses alike.

Speaking of costume designers, we’d like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to costume designer Ruth E. Carter and the launch of her new book “The Art of Ruth E. Carter: Costuming Black History and the Afrofuture, from Do the Right Thing to Black Panther.” Carter is the first Black woman to win an Oscar for costume design, the first Black woman to win two Oscars in any category and the second costume designer to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s time for Hollywood and the fashion industry to pay attention to pay inequity, specifically between costume designers and their peers; production designers and fashion designers.

COLLABORATING WITH FASHION DESIGNERS

Barbie’s classic swimsuit look. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

For the 2023 Barbie movie, Jacqueline Durran decided to collaborate with fashion industry designers, recognizing the significance of Barbie as a style icon.  Together, they created a seamless fusion of high fashion and cinematic storytelling. Here are a few designers who brought Barbie’s looks to life.

Renowned for her commitment to sustainable fashion, Stella McCartney joined forces with Jacqueline Durran to bring eco-conscious design to the Barbie movie. McCartney’s signature elegance and ethical sensibilities perfectly complement Barbie’s message of empowerment and environmental responsibility. Expect to see stunning ensembles crafted from innovative sustainable fabrics and adorned with McCartney’s distinctive touch.

Known for his bold and inclusive designs, Christian Siriano’s collaboration with Jacqueline Durran injects a vibrant and diverse energy into the Barbie movie. Siriano’s mastery of draping, impeccable craftsmanship, and his celebration of different body types make him an ideal partner for dressing Barbie and her friends. Anticipate a range of show-stopping couture gowns and fierce yet playful ensembles that showcase Siriano’s unique flair.

Pushing the boundaries of fashion and technology, Iris van Herpen brings her avant-garde sensibilities to the Barbie movie in collaboration with Jacqueline Durran. Van Herpen’s mesmerizing designs, often inspired by nature and science, add a touch of otherworldly magic to the film. Expect breathtakingly intricate and ethereal costumes, blending traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge techniques, such as 3D printing and laser cutting.

The collaborative efforts between Jacqueline Durran and her chosen team of renowned fashion designers, promises a fashion spectacle like no other. Through their unique creative vision, Stella McCartney, Christian Siriano, and Iris van Herpen contribute their artistry and distinct design perspectives to Barbie’s world.  As audiences await the release of the Barbie movie, they can look forward to a dazzling display of fashion magic borne from the synergy between Jacqueline Durran and these esteemed designers.

Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) rollerblade looks. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

So, tell us, how excited are you to see the Barbie Movie?

 

 

 

 

THE ENDURING MAGIC OF HAUTE COUTURE: FALL 2023

Backstage at the Iris Van Herpen Fall 2023 Couture Collection Runway Show. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Despite the backdrop of Paris protests, as a result of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, fashion’s elite indulged in the finer things of life and high tailoring during Haute Couture’s Fall 2023 season. Couture took center stage last week as fashion insiders and celebrities sashayed throughout the most fashionable city in the world. The Paris Couture season, which ran from July 3rd to the 6th, was jam packed with whimsical and fanciful creations and blew up every fashionista’s social media channel.

Cardi B rocks Couture Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Haute couture is the epitome of high fashion, it carries with it a rich history spanning over a century. From its origins in the late 19th century to its evolution into the modern era, haute couture has remained a symbol of creativity, craftsmanship, and timeless elegance. In today’s society, where trends come and go in the blink of an eye, it is worth exploring the roots of haute couture and examining its enduring relevance in shaping the fashion landscape.

THE HISTORY OF HAUTE COUTURE

A gown from House of Worth dated 1882. (Photo Credit: Met Museum)

The story of haute couture begins in Paris during the mid-19th century. It was Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman residing in Paris, who is credited as the ‘father of haute couture’. Worth’s innovative approach involved creating custom-made garments for individual clients, departing from the prevailing practice of mass-produced attire. By infusing creativity, impeccable craftsmanship, and luxurious materials, Worth elevated fashion to an art form and set the stage for the birth of haute couture.

The early 20th century witnessed the rise of prestigious fashion houses that defined the golden era of haute couture. Designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent became synonymous with unparalleled elegance and sophistication. These designers crafted exquisite garments that reflected the spirit of their time, capturing the essence of societal shifts and women’s evolving roles. The allure of haute couture grew as these visionaries introduced iconic silhouettes, such as the “New Look,” and groundbreaking techniques that transformed the fashion landscape.

In today’s fast-paced world driven by fast fashion, mass production and rapid fashion trends, the artistry and enchantment of haute couture continues to shine as a beacon of beauty and craftsmanship. Those of us who value the talent of the petit mains who create these masterpieces in every designer’s atelier, know and respect the meticulous attention to detail that goes into creating these exquisite garments that transcend time. In today’s society, where individuality is cherished, the magic of haute couture remains an essential and awe-inspiring force.

THE RELEVANCE OF HAUTE COUTURE IN TODAY’S SOCIETY

Looks from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle)

As another season of haute couture has come to an end and the debate over whether or not couture is still revenant, no one can deny that the artistic expression and innovation was well worth it (not to mention the big marketing opportunities brands gain from  showing a couture collection). Haute couture serves as a canvas for designers to unleash their creative expertise and push the boundaries of fashion. It is a playground of innovation, where new techniques, materials, and silhouettes are explored. The avant-garde creations showcased in haute couture collections often serve as a source of inspiration for ready-to-wear lines, influencing trends and shaping the future of fashion.

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle)

A hallmark of haute couture lies in its impeccable craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. Each garment is meticulously constructed by skilled artisans, employing traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations. The use of luxurious fabrics, intricate hand-sewn embellishments, and delicate embroideries creates garments of unparalleled quality and splendor. Haute couture reminds us of the enduring value of artisanal work and the irreplaceable beauty of true craftsmanship.

In a world of mass production, where conformity often reigns, haute couture celebrates individuality and offers exclusivity. Just like a Savile Row suit, each haute couture garment is custom-made for a specific client, ensuring a perfect fit and reflecting their unique personality and style. It provides a luxurious experience that fosters a sense of identity and self-expression, allowing individuals to embrace their distinctiveness in a world of uniformity.

Haute couture plays a pivotal role in preserving cultural heritage and traditional craftsmanship. Collaborations between designers and skilled artisans ensure the continuity of time-honored techniques, from intricate embroidery to hand weaving. By intertwining contemporary design with cultural traditions, haute couture showcases the richness of global heritage, paying homage to diverse craft traditions and sustaining their legacy.

HAUTE COUTURE FALL 2023 SHOWS

Looks from Chanel’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle)

The Fall 2023 Haute Couture season transported us to a realm of unparalleled creativity, innovation, and artistry. From the breathtaking designs that grace the runway to the meticulous craftsmanship that brings them to life, haute couture continues to enchant and inspire. As we witness the magic unfold in Paris, we are reminded of the enduring power of fashion as an art form and its ability to captivate and transport us into a world of imagination. The Fall 2023 haute couture shows leave us in awe, eagerly awaiting the next chapter of fashion’s captivating tale. Here are some showstopping looks from each show that captured the essence of the season.

SCHIAPARELLI

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Looks From Christian Dior’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Christian Dior)

THOM BROWNE

A look from Thom Browne’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

CHANEL

A look from Chanel’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

ARMANI PRIVE

Looks from Armani Privé’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle)

BALENCIAGA

A look from Balenciaga’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

VALENTINO

Looks From Valentino’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar)

FENDI

A look from Fendi’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

IRIS VAN HERPEN

A look from Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

VIKTOR & ROLF

A look from Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

GIAMBATTISTA VALLI

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

So tell us, which couture show inspired you the most?

 

 

 

Spotlight on Sustainable Designer: Eudora Tucker

image of Eudora Tucker

Eudora Tucker – New York City sustainable fashion designer (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

This week’s blogpost is dedicated to Custom Collaborative’s latest success story, NYC-based sustainable fashion designer, Eudora Tucker. But first, a bit about Custom Collaborative (CC).

Custom Collaborative is a Harlem-based non-profit 501(c)(3) founded in 2015 by Executive Director Ngozi Okaro. The organization provides free training and ongoing support for women from low-income and immigrant communities through their entrepreneurship and workforce-development programs. Their Training Institute teaches the art, craft and techniques used in sustainable garment-making, as well as ethical business practices in the fashion industry.

 CC’s mission is to help women professionalize their sewing and design skills, overcome barriers to employment, and, ultimately, bring greater equity and inclusivity to the business of fashion.

University of Fashion partnered with Custom Collaborative in 2020, gifting full access to our fashion education content library. Since then, Custom Collaborative has graduated 10 cohorts of ‘fashion-preneurs’ who are making their mark by starting their own sustainable fashion brand.

Last week, I had the chance to interview Eudora and learned about her studies at CC, her design philosophy and her career aspirations. Here goes:

 Eudora Tucker’s Graffiti dress

Eudora Tucker’s Graffiti dress (Image credit: Camila Falquez)

Francesca: Tell me about your journey into fashion. Are you NYC born and raised?

Eudora: I was born and raised in Brooklyn. As a Native New Yorker, fashion has always been on my radar. I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer early on and attended The High School of Art and Design to study fashion illustration and then went on to study at FIT. Unfortunately, life happened, forcing me to pivot, but fashion has always been a huge interest. I started seriously getting back into fashion when my idol, Prince, died in 2016. As a lifelong fan, I was devastated when he passed away and I started making Prince themed jean jackets and outfits as a tribute to him. I wore them to different Prince related events that I attended. People seemed to love and admire my designs and complimented me on my creativity. That reignited my passion and pushed me to seriously pursue my dreams of being a fashion designer again. I was hand sewing and using adhesives to create my designs, which meant there were constant repairs and maintenance needed. I knew finding sewing classes would be the next step if I wanted to seriously start making custom designs for others.

Eudora Tucker’s Embellished Purple Vineyard Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: Can you tell me about the program at Custom Collaborative? How rigorous was it and what types of things did you learn?

Eudora: The program is a 15-week course that meets Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. It was a serious commitment, and it was truly intense. I had never used a sewing machine before so when our instructor, Delia Alleyne, showed us how to thread the needle on the first day, my head nearly exploded. I didn’t think I would ever be able to thread the machine, let alone sew something together. Fear and self-doubt overcame me, and I was questioning why I ever signed up. Delia encouraged and helped us overcome our fears and by the end of the day, I was able to successfully thread my machine. I knew it was going to be a tough road ahead, but I was up for the challenge. During those 15 weeks there were many tears shed out of frustration, but also with happiness when I was able to get through another tough lesson. In the end I completed the course with the ability to design and sew; a portfolio of work including illustrations for two collections, which included inspiration, mood and fabric boards; an awesome business plan that I wrote, and most importantly, the knowledge and confidence to go forward in pursuit of my dream.

Eudora Tucker’s Rocket Man Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: How were the University of Fashion lessons utilized at CC?

Eudora: We constantly referred to the University of Fashion lessons while studying. We used them to reinforce lessons that Delia taught us and to complete projects on our own. I am a visual learner, so it was a tremendous help and resource for me. The videos that were the biggest help were the lessons on the invisible zipper, pattern making and layout, and draping. These were life saving for me. Due to time constraints, and the amount of projects we covered, it was impossible to learn and complete everything in class. The videos allowed us to review the task, step by step, on our own time to complete the projects correctly.

 

Eudora Tucker’s Incomparable Lady Day Shirt Dress

Eudora Tucker’s Incomparable Lady Day Shirt Dress (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: Can you tell me about your capstone project at CC?

Eudora: My capstone project was a hand painted, full length gown with a train. My design was inspired by the feelings of fear, uncertainty and sense of lawlessness in NYC post Covid-19. With the closing of so many businesses, the graffiti artists had once again transformed our city’s landscape with their artwork, reminiscent of the late 1970s and 80s. Using donated fabric that I treated to create the Ombre effect, the design ascends from darkness to light, reflecting the transitioning of Oppression and Anarchy, rising out of Out Rage and Despair, through Faith and Unity, to ultimately arrive at Love and Peace. My design was chosen as the finale of Cohort 9’s graduation runway show and was also featured in both Vogue Business and Harper’s Bazaar articles. Not only were these very proud moments for me, but they also serve as a testament that my perseverance and hard work are truly paying off.

Eudora Tucker’s Queen Bee Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What made you want to focus on upcycling and sustainable design?

Eudora: Custom Collaborative is an organization that is built on the principles of fashion sustainability. I never heard of fashion sustainability and, to be honest, I was a consumer of fast fashion without even knowing it. I had never heard of the term “fast fashion” until I came to Custom Collaborative. Once I found out what it was and how it affects the planet; coupled with the unfair labor practices that affect the seamstresses that work in the factories, I quickly got on board. I started changing my purchasing habits and decided to focus on upcycling and sustainable design. I truly enjoy taking a “pre-loved” garment and repurposing it into something new and creative. It allows me to create one of a kind, statement pieces that make my clientele feel special when they wear it.

Eudora Tucker’s Dear Mum Jacket (Image credit (Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What is the hardest thing about being a sustainable fashion designer?

Eudora: The most challenging aspect of being a sustainable designer is figuring out how to alter an existing garment. When you are locked into a design it is sometimes hard to come up with creative ways to change the garment to fit your new design. You have to use your imagination and become an out-of-the box thinker and really think about the techniques to use in order to execute your new design with the least amount of complication and in a timely manner.

Eudora Tucker’s Ode to Jean-Michele Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What is your ultimate goal, or goals, as a designer in the fashion industry?

Eurora: I would like to continue creating one-of-a kind statement pieces and growing my fashion sustainability brand, Princess Arabia’s Atelier. I also plan to partner with environmental agencies in NYC to offer fashion sustainability workshops to teach others what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint through more mindful fashion practices. My ultimate goal is to travel around NYC and neighboring states to educate as many people as possible and bring awareness on how the fast fashion industry continues to proliferate the amount of waste in our landfills and how it is fueling the profound negative effects of climate change. This is my small way of giving back to the planet and carrying out my duty as a good global citizen.

 Follow Eudora on Instagram: @princessarabia9

The Rainbow of it All Vest

Eudora Tucker’s  The Rainbow of it All Vest (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Are you a woman from a low-income community interested in starting a career in fashion? Apply to our Training Institute.

If you are interested in providing paid internships for their students write to us at: CS@UniversityofFashion.com

Are you a small or start-up clothing business? Apply to their Business Incubator. They provide services including manufacturing, technical assistance, and consulting for those who need it.

Want to volunteer? Sign up here. They’re always looking for folks to help as teacher’s assistants, guest speakers, graphic designers, special event coordinators, or fabric inventory sorters.

Want to donate fabrics, machines, or supplies? Complete this form.

To support their work in supporting striving women. Donate today.

 

Unveiling Fashion’s Futuristic Frontier: The First AI Fashion Show

The first AI Fashion Week 2023 (Photo Credit: Trendland)

In the ever-evolving realm of fashion, where creativity knows no bounds, a groundbreaking event has captured the world’s attention – New York City’s first-ever AI Fashion Week (AIFW). Though it was billed as a ‘fashion week’ the event was held on April 20 and 21, 2023 at Soho’s Spring Place, the iconic location of past IRL New York Fashion Week shows. The concept for the AI show was spearheaded by visionary minds at Maison Meta, the world’s first AI generative agency founded in New York City in 2022 by Cyril Foiret, in partnership with next-generation online retailer Revolve Group.

The first-of-its-kind event (which doubled as a competition), attracted over 12,000 registrations from global participants. Submissions from 133 digital artists and designers were selected and evaluated by an expert jury that included REVOLVE founder and co-CEO Michael Mente, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency Matthew Drinkwater, renowned makeup artist Dame Pat McGrath and Vogue Japan Head of Content, Tiffany Godoy.

Maison Meta unveiled the top 10 AIFW finalists, who were judged by another panel of industry experts that included Dame Pat McGrath, Vogue Japan’s head of editorial content, Tiffany Godoy, Céline casting director, Natalie Hazzout, and Erika Wykes-Sneyd of the Adidas Studio Web3. Maison Meta invited the public to take part by voting for the collections they liked the best on its website. Three of the winners will have their AI-generated designs produced and sold by REVOLVE for the real world.

At its simplest form, artificial intelligence is a field which combines computer science and robust datasets to enable problem-solving.

With strict guidelines in place, designers were not allowed to use prompts that relied on the work of exisiting designers’ work. Rather, they were encouraged to use heavily researched prompts in order to create wholly unique ideas. The results shattered preconceived notions by positioning artificial intelligence as a co-designer rather than a replacement for human ingenuity. Designers collaborated closely with the algorithms, guiding them to refine their output and infuse their distinctive artistic visions. This dynamic partnership between human creativity and machine learning algorithms birthed designs that were greater than the sum of their parts, displaying a harmonious synergy between man and machine.

Fashion Industry Early AI Adopters

Valentino was one of the first fashion houses to launch an AI-generated campaign, which blended AI-generated props & models and actual product photography with Photoshop. Fashion enthusiasts have also created their own idealistic brand mashups and campaign treatments with AI, such as the viral AI-generated Nike x Tiffany collaboration imagined by digital artist Rickdick using Midjourney.

The Future of AI for the Fashion Industry

This extraordinary union of technology and style is already refining the very essence of fashion, pushing the boundaries of human imagination and welcoming artificial intelligence into the design realm. Imagine a world where algorithms become brushes and pixels transform into fabrics, where data-driven creativity takes center stage.

The first AI Fashion Show served as a portal into this future, showcasing an ensemble of AI-generated designs that fused artistry and innovation in ways never seen before. This avant-garde spectacle transported attendees to a realm where fashion met artificial intelligence, and the possibilities seemed endless.

AI algorithms, fueled by vast amounts of fashion data and trained to detect patterns and predict trends, will be able to conjure designs that transcend the boundaries of human imagination.

Join UoF in celebrating the 10 AI Fashion Show winners who have, to quote the famous Star Trek line, “To boldly go where no man/one has gone before.” Click on each designer’s link to see their bio, the software used to create their designs and their entire AI collection.

I Fashion week top 10

Alves Knop – Brazil, Annatarian by Anna Leighton – LA, Anya Klyueva – Moscow and Aria Phenix – Braz

 

I Fashion week top 10

Chu/Rayshaun Smith – Houston, Gaby Roses – Uruguay, Gianluca Traina – Italy,  Matilda Mariano – Portugal

I Fashion week top 10

Ope/Style Star – USA and Paatiff/Jose Sobral – Portugal (Image credits: AIFashionweek.com)

As fashion continues its inexorable evolution, the first AI Fashion Show serves as a poignant reminder that the journey into the uncharted territories of fashion’s future has only just begun. If you’re interested in creating AI fashion we recommend checking out these artificial intelligence computer programs and prompts to generate images from natural text: Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. 

Brush up on your digital skills with UoF CAD Fashion Art lessons in Photoshop, Illustrator and 3D Browzwear software.

So tell us, are you ready to create fashion for the world of A.I.?

 

 

 

JUNETEENTH: Celebrating African American Quilters & Creatives

 

(Image Credit: Louisville Black Creatives – Facebook.com)

Juneteenth marks the day when General Gordon Granger of the Union Army strolled into Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to announce that the last of the 250,000 remaining enslaved people in the Confederacy were freed from the shackles of slavery, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

To celebrate Juneteenth, this week’s blogpost is dedicated to African Americans artisans, both past and present, who use their creativity to tell stories through the art of quilting. We will also highlight African American quilters and artisans who, through textiles and handcraftsmanship, are modern-day griots, these creatives are continuing the tradition of African tribal storytelling to preserve the genealogies and oral traditions of their culture.

Fashion has always held an important role in the evolution of mankind, whether to express status or as a vehicle for social change. But the art and craft of fashion, specifically quilting, has held an even deeper meaning for the African American community and is as almost as old as the history of America.

One of the first enslaved African women to be officially recorded in the colony of Virginia in 1619 was Angela (likely born in present-day Angola). Angela is considered one the ‘First Africans” and like many Black women to follow, were charged with spinning, weaving, sewing, and quilting on plantations for their enslavers, while often weaving their own family’s clothing to keep warm and survive.

Over time, some African American household slaves became highly skilled in creating quilts and while very few examples of these early quilts survived due to the heavy wear they received, what was initially a tool of oppression became an expression of liberation.

Hidden in Plain View by Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD QUILT CODES

The Underground Railroad (UCRR) was a network of people and places that assisted southern slaves escape to free states in the North and Canada prior to the start of the Civil War in 1861. According to legend, a safe house along the UCRR was often indicated by a quilt hanging from a clothesline or windowsill. These quilts were embedded with a kind of code, so that by reading the shapes and motifs sewn into the design, an enslaved person on the run could know the area’s immediate dangers or even where to head next.

In the book entitled, Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, the authors reveal how enslaved men and women made encoded quilts and then used them to navigate their escape on the Underground Railroad. Quilts with patterns named “the Charleston Code,” “wagon wheel,” “tumbling blocks,” and “bear’s paw”, contained secret messages that helped direct slaves to freedom.

Example of a Charleston Code Quilt – helped navigate slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad

When slaves made their escape, they used their memory of the quilts as a mnemonic device to guide them safely along their journey. For example: a bow tie meant “dress in disguise to appear of a higher status; a bear paw was an instruction to “follow an animal trail through the mountains to find water and food; and a log cabin warned “seek shelter now, the people here are safe to speak with”.

Example of a Log Cabin quilt with an embedded code to help slaves to freedom.

At the end of the Civil War, African American women continued telling their stories through quilting, maintaining the long-standing cultural significance and its profound roots of ‘woven’ resistance. For more on the history of African American quilting as folk-art visit: http://www.womenfolk.com/quilting_history/afam.html

HARRIET POWERS

Quilter Harriet Powers

Harriet Powers 1837-1910 (Image credit: Museum of Fine Arts Boston)

Born into slavery in Athens, Georgia in 1837, Harriet Powers created quilts once she was emancipated. She used quilting as a catalyst for change and to inspire conversations about race. Her storytelling quilts made use of appliqué techniques and the textiles of Western Africa and are notable for her ability to transmit, through the fabric, her religious faith depicting biblical stories, local events, and celestial occurrences. Powers debuted her first exhibit in 1886 at the Cotton States and International Expo.

For much of the 20th century Powers was erased from the art historical canon, but today she is deservedly considered one of the most accomplished quilt makers of the 19th century.

Only two of Powers’ story quilts have survived: the Bible Quilt which hangs in the Smithsonian Institution and her Pictorial Quilt which is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Harriet Powers – Bible Quilt circa 1886 (Image credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Weaving scraps together became a metaphor for threads of resilience stitched together to preserve remnants of culture, faith, and hope in the African American community. Though often not attributed with bringing the tradition of quilting to the U.S., Black women are among the originators of today’s needle and thread technique.

From navigating the Underground Railroad to telling a family’s story, quilts are more than an heirloom to African American families—they are an act of woven resistance.

Close-up of African American ‘Pine Burr’ quilt circa 1920 found in Selma, Alabama. For sale on 1st Dibs $7,500

One of the most beautiful quilt patterns is the Pine Cone or Pine Burr, which is a three dimensional quilt made of overlapping triangles. These triangles are put in a circular pattern starting at the center, giving the look of a pinecone. The quilt pictured above was made by an African American of unknown provenance. It took weeks to make and was found in Selma, Alabama circa 1920. It is for sale on 1st Dibs for $7,500.

QUILTERS OF GEE’S BEND

Gee’s Bend Quilters Jennie Pettway and Jorena Pettway, 1937 (Photo credit: Arthur Rothstein).

Among the most important quilt contributions to the history of art were made by quilters in the isolated African American hamlet of Gee’s Bend, Alabama in the 1930s. Gee’s Bend quilters developed a distinctive style and are known for their lively improvisations and geometric simplicity.

In 2003, 50 quilt makers founded the Gee’s Bend Collective, which is owned and operated by the women of Gee’s Bend and their work has been exhibited in museums across the country, the most notable in 2004 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Gee’s Bend quilters working a quilt 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia.com)

In 2015, Gee’s Bend quilters Mary Lee Bendolph, Lucy Mingo, and Loretta Pettway were joint recipients of a National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

And in 2023, the Gee’s Bend quilters collaborated with generative artist Anna Lucia to create digital works of art on the blockchain in a project called Generations.

Quilt by Anna Lucia of Gees Bend Quilted physical NFT on a clothesline in Alabama 2023 (Image credit: rightclicksave.com)

 

FAITH RINGGOLD

Faith Ringgold in front of her quilt Tar Beach 1993

Faith Ringgold in front of her quilt Tar Beach 1993 (Image credit: Wikipedia.com)

Faith Ringgold is an artist, activist, quilter, educator and author of numerous award-winning children’s books. Tar Beach, her first children’s book, based on a quilt of the same title, has won over twenty awards including the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King award for the best-illustrated children’s book of 1991. Ringgold has made a career-spanning commitment to social justice and equity through a variety of media including oil paintings, tankas, soft sculptures, story quilts and prints. If you are in LA, be sure to catch her show at the Jeffrey Deitch Gallery from May 20-August 12.

 

BISA BUTLER

Artist/quilter Bisa Butler – Quilting for the Culture (Image credit & video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P3_61nh3xo)

Bisa Butler has been called a modern-day Griot, but instead of using words to tell stories, she uses stitches and cloth. Her quilts have graced the covers of magazines, have been the subject of numerous exhibitions and she created the striking illustration for the book “Unbound,” the memoir of activist and Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke. Her show entitled “Bisa Butler: The World is Yours“, is currently showing in NYC from May 6 to June 30, 2023 at 18 Wooster Street. You will be dazzled! Here’s a link to the show info: https://deitch.com/new-york/exhibitions/bisa-butler-the-world-is-yours

 

Artist/Quilter Bisa Butler (Image credit: YouTube)

In my work, I am telling the story— this African American side— of the American life. History is the story of men and women, but the narrative is controlled by those who hold the pen. My community has been marginalized for hundreds of years. While we have been right beside our white counterparts experiencing and creating history, our contributions and perspectives have been ignored, unrecorded, and lost. It is only a few years ago that it was acknowledged that the White House was built by slaves. Right there in the seat of power of our country African Americans were creating and contributing while their names were lost to history. My subjects are African Americans from ordinary walks of life who may have sat for a formal family portrait or may have been documented by a passing photographer. Like the builders of the White House, they have no names or captions to tell us who they were.” ~ Bisa Butler

AFRICAN AMERICAN CRAFT INITIATIVE

The African American Craft Initiative – a division of the Smithsonian Artisan Initiative (Photo credit folklife.si.edu)

The African American Craft (AACI) Initiative works to expand the visibility of African American artisans and ensure equitable access to resources. Established through a consultative dialogue process with African American makers and organizations, and the mainstream craft sector in the United States, AACI outlines concrete actions for sustainable change.

Through collaborative research, documentation, and public programming, the initiative builds upon the relationship between craft and community by amplifying and supporting the efforts of African American makers to sustain their craft practice.

QUILTING & THE FASHION INDUSTRY

A$AP Rocky and Rihanna 2021 Met Gala

A$AP Rocky and Rihanna at the Met Gala 2021 (Image credit: GraziaMagazine.com)

Quilting continues to provoke conversations and contemplations around identity, heritage, and healing within the African American Community. African textiles are often central to quilters and fashion designers at large.

 

To learn more about African textiles check out these UoF lessons:

 

To learn more about quilting and various quilt patterns visit Quilt Index https://quiltindex.org

To find out where to purchase African fabrics visit: https://www.quiltafricafabrics.com/collections

Have you viewed our West African textiles lessons yet?

 

Fashion’s Resort 2024 Collections: A Gateway to Style

- - Trends

Looks from Chanel’s Resort 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Hollywood Reporter)

The world of fashion never rests. It’s constantly evolving and embracing new trends to captivate the hearts of fashionistas worldwide. Amidst this perpetual cycle, the Resort season emerges as a crucial milestone in the industry, providing designers with a unique opportunity to showcase their creativity and unlock significant sales potential. As we delve into Fashion’s Resort 2024 collections, we will embark on a journey through enchanting designs while exploring the undeniable importance of the resort season in driving fashion sales.

Unlike the more widely known fashion seasons like Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, Resort collections offer a refreshing break from the traditional fashion calendar. Launched between seasons, typically during the winter months, Resort collections cater to jet-setters seeking stylish ensembles for their warm-weather getaways. Resort collections epitomize the essence of escapism, transporting us to sun-soaked destinations and inspiring dreams of far-off shores.

Liberated from the constraints of thematic consistency, they can explore innovative silhouettes, patterns, and fabrics, resulting often in breathtaking creations. Designers often draw inspiration from diverse sources, such as exotic locales, art movements and cultural heritage, infusing their collections with a captivating mix of tradition and contemporary flair.

Looks from Roberto Cavalli’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue).   

A look from Phillip Plein’s Resort 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: The Impression)

One of the key reasons why the resort season is essential to fashion sales lies in the extended retail window it creates. Unlike other collections that quickly give way to seasonal discounts, Resort collections maintain their relevance for an extended period. This longevity is particularly advantageous for retailers, allowing them to stock and sell these exclusive pieces for an extended period, thus maximizing their profitability.

The resort season caters to a broad range of consumer needs, making it a lucrative segment for fashion sales. From tropical beachgoers and urban vacationers to those living in climates that enjoy year-round warmth, the resort collections offer versatile designs suitable for various occasions. This inclusivity ensures that designers and retailers can tap into a diverse customer base, expanding their market reach and ultimately boosting sales.

In today’s digital age, the resort season’s impact extends far beyond traditional runways. Influencers and fashion enthusiasts flock to picturesque resort locations where collections are unveiled, generating a powerful synergy of style and social media. The visual splendor of these backdrops combined with the inherent allure of new fashion trends generates considerable online buzz, catapulting resort collections into the spotlight and increasing their desirability. This Resort 2024 season was no exception as Chanel showcased their collection in sunny Los Angeles, as a Santa Monica airplane hangar was used as a runway. Gucci showed in Seoul, the capital of South Korea while hundreds of labor union protested in the city’s streets. Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Resort 2024 collection was an ode to Mexico, so it was only natural that the French luxury house showed in Mexico City. Meanwhile, Wes Gordon took his Resort 2024 Carolina Herrera show to Rio, Brazil. Not to be outdone by exotic locations, Nicolas Ghesquière’s Louis Vuitton show was held in the terraced gardens of Isola Bella, a tiny private island in Lake Maggiore, Italy.

Looks from Carolina Herrera’s Resort 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Town & Country)

The resort season acts as a bridge between the more substantial Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections, ensuring a smooth transition for fashion aficionados. By offering a taste of upcoming trends and introducing transitional pieces, designers create anticipation for the next season, enabling customers to plan their wardrobes ahead of time. This strategy not only keeps consumers engaged but also bolsters brand loyalty, driving sales throughout the year.

A look from Tory Burch’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Here are some of Resort’s hottest trends so far:

Barbiecore

Barbiecore, inspired by the iconic Barbie doll, as well as the release of the Barbie Movie on July 21, is a major trend characterized by its playful and feminine aesthetic.

A look from Chanel’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Diesel’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Carolina Herrera’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Anna Sui’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Givenchy’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Floral Fantasies

Florals continue to reign supreme, with an array of exquisite botanical prints and patterns. From oversized blooms to delicate blossoms, these vibrant and romantic motifs grace dresses, skirts and blouses, adding a touch of femininity to every ensemble.

A look from Stella McCartney’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Gucci’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Carolina Herrera’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Christian Dior’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Etro’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Artisanal Craftsmanship

Resort 2024 pays homage to artisanal craftsmanship, celebrating traditional techniques and intricate details. Expect to see beautifully handcrafted embroidery, delicate lacework, and intricate beadwork adorning garments.

A look from The Row’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Alberta Ferretti’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Christian Dior’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Roberto Cavalli’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Sophisticated Crochet

Crochet takes center stage for Resort 2024, with designers embracing this versatile and timeless technique. From dresses and tops to swimwear and accessories, crochet pieces evoke a sense of bohemian elegance and laid-back charm.

A look from Chloé’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Carolina Herrera’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Christian Dior’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Etro’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Frederick Anderson’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Playful Ruffles

Ruffles make a spirited comeback, infusing Resort 2024 collections with a sense of whimsy and movement. Cascading down skirts, sleeves, and necklines, ruffles create a romantic and playful aesthetic.

A look from Carolina Herrera’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Diesel’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Gucci’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Earthy Tones

Resort 2024 embraces the beauty of the natural world through earthy tones and natural textures. From sandy neutrals to mossy greens, these colors evoke a sense of serenity and connection to nature. Designers incorporate natural textures, such as linen, jute, and woven fabrics, bringing a tactile and organic element to the collections. Expect to see relaxed silhouettes and flowy garments that exude a sense of effortless elegance.

A look from Christian Dior’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Alberta Ferretti’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Gucci’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Tory Burch’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Stella McCartney’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Chloé’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Abstract Prints

Abstract prints make a bold statement in Resort 2024, injecting a burst of energy and creativity into the collections. Geometric shapes, bold strokes, and unexpected color combinations create eye-catching designs that demand attention.

A look from Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Givenchy’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Chanel’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Stella McCartney’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Tailoring with a Twist

Resort 2024 redefines traditional tailoring with modern twists and unexpected details. Blazers feature oversized shoulders and nipped-in waists, offering a feminine take on structured silhouettes. Pants are cropped and wide-legged, providing comfort and sophistication. Look out for asymmetrical cuts, unique button placements, and unexpected fabric combinations that breathe new life into classic tailoring.

A look from Balenciaga’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Givenchy’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Gucci’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

A look from Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

So tell us, what is your favorite trend for Resort 2024?