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CRAFTING THE FUTURE OF FASHION written by Molly Nicholas


ire, duct tape, exacto knife. Sketchbook, wire cutters, Sharpies. Glue sticks, safety pins, masking tape, Bristol pads, magazines and a ruler. Walking into the first day of fashion class, most would assume you just need a sewing kit and some fabric, but not in this course. Professors Kaley Madden and Liz Ricketts designed the syllabus of Miami’s FAS 241 “The Elements and Principles of Fashion Design” to answer the question: What is sketching? The class projects incorporate sketching through a variety of different mediums. Sketching in 3D with found clothes, line through wire, images through magazines and paper through draping are just a few examples. Madden and Ricketts set out to redefine new during the course’s first project. Students were asked to sketch in 3D with old clothing from their closets or items purchased at second-hand stores like Goodwill. There was a catch: electricity (i.e. a glue gun or sewing machine) could not be used to put the clothes together. Instead, only hand sewing, cutting, safety pinning and other similar skills were allowed. “I think something that we both are concerned about in terms of fashion education is this obsession with the new and teaching towards making something new,” Madden said. “We both kind of philosophically align on sustainability needing to reposition itself towards how we redefine what new is and how we use what’s already out.” With this mindset, the students took old articles of clothing and revived them, whether it was a pink puffer jacket from a thrift store or white Hanes undershirts from the back of their closet. Students cut apart old garments and put them back together in fresh, exciting ways. An old bed sheet set became pants, a jacket became a skirt and an oven mitt became a top. One of the most important takeaways from the first project for students was learning the impact that our never-ending shopping habits and overflowing closets have on the world. Fashion schools are trying to teach their students about sustainability, but they do not always emphasize the magnitude of the issue. “Too often, those projects in fashion schools are very token projects that the student is given one class period to upcycle something, and that can be very detrimental to how students interpret what sustainability is,” Ricketts said. “Sustainability should be something that you integrate into everything that you do and it should be something that’s integrated into every class in a fashion curriculum.” “It’s always a workshop!” Madden shouted. Ricketts and Madden ensure that their students understand that sustainability is not just a one-day workshop. It can be implemented into their lives outside of class, not just a single project. This is why they waited to give a presentation on sustainability until after the class had finished and avoided calling the project “upcycling.” Instead, students saw it as a new way to design clothing. Senior Nicole Thomas questioned what she should do moving forward to help with the sustainability crisis in the fashion world. She wants to

integrate some of her learnings from the projects into her line for the 2018 Miami University Fashion and Design show. “I never thought about it as recycling old clothes, I just thought of those as our materials,” Thomas said. “I would look for clothes at Goodwill with better materials, but I didn’t think of it as sustainability.” Like Thomas, if you’re looking for what you can do, helping the sustainability crisis is not simple. Even Ricketts and Madden admit that they don’t expect their students to stop buying new clothing. Rather, it’s about integrating sustainability as often as possible. There’s not an easy answer or solution, but there are ways to educate yourself and implement it into your lifestyle. “The environmental crisis is not going to be solved by an individual becoming a vegan, just like our fashion crisis is not going to be solved by an individual not shopping at Forever 21,” Madden said. “We are now facing a crisis so pervasive that we need money and technology to solve it. What an individual can do is work in the realm of ideas and spread the word and their own strategies. It’s just about making an attempt and being aware.” Madden and Ricketts are looking to change the mindset of a typical fashion designer through their projects. Something new doesn’t need to come from fresh fabric and a sewing machine. “Before we develop methods, we need to develop mindsets, and that’s what we were trying to do with this project,” Ricketts said. “The future of fashion requires collaboration.” Although there is not a quick-fix, education, research and a desire to spread that information play big parts in taking those first steps forward. This education expands your mindset to see fashion in a different way. Awareness of your own consumerist behaviors, and whether or not you truly need that trendy (for a week) top in your shopping cart, is essential. 9 | Summer 2018

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UP Summer 2018 Issue