April 2018

The Fashion Show

Iowa State University offers many hands-on sustainable experiences through clubs and organizations -- one of which is the Iowa State Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management’s (AESHM) Fashion Show. From its humble beginning as a simple runway show in a MacKay Hall classroom, it has grown to be one of the largest student-run fashion shows in the nation, now being held in C.Y. Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa.

The 36th annual Fashion Show accommodates more than 75 Apparel, Merchandising, and Design (AMD) students to display their garments on the runway, promoting durable and creative fashion, opposed to wasteful, fast fashion. The show is also produced, designed and marketed entirely by the 150 students chosen to be a part of the planning committee. Even 100 percent of the models are Iowa State students.

Every year, the nearly sold-out event hosts more than 2,500 audience members, with the additional 650 online viewers.Those who come to see more than 150 student-designed garments on the runway and in the mounted exhibitions leave with an eye-opening experience and a new appreciation for fashion design.

This year, The Fashion Show will take place at 7 p.m. on April 14. There is always an opportunity for sustainability to be sewn into The Fashion Show through students incorporating it into the creative design and vision of their garments. The overarching theme of the show has also been patterned within a sustainability template. In 2011, the show’s theme was “green” and introduced a new category of eco-friendly garments to promote sustainable clothing exhibited down a runway, adorned by recycled textiles.

This year, the show follows suit with sustainable undertones integrated into their theme of RESILIENCE. RESILIENCE was chosen because it is a “representation of minimalistic, modern concepts and organic, greenhouse-inspired elements,” according to the AESHM website. The Fashion Show's theme shines a light on sustainability; however it’s the students' commitment to finding a Guest Designer who matches the RESILIENCE theme, ensuring this light on sustainability shines through.

“We focused [our sustainability efforts] solely on recruiting a Guest Designer whose mission addresses sustainability and environmental issues,” The Fashion Show’s student vice presidents Josie Brownmiller and Emily Clark said. “With RESILIENCE, we look to honor all Patagonia associates as they worked to rebuild their community during the infamousThomas Fire that spread throughout southern California, all while never losing sight of their culture.”

The Fashion Show’s student planning committee wanted to host a brand that valued sustainability and whose socially responsible initiatives were applicable to majors not limited to the AMD department.They also found it was important the Guest Designer’s brand followed a significant mission statement and had a solid presence on Iowa State’s campus. Based on these standards, they decided on Patagonia.

Since securing Patagonia for this year's event, the production team has been working tirelessly to unite Patagonia’s company values with activities related to The Fashion Show's theme. In doing so, they have structured events like the annual Pop-Up Shop (4/13) to showcase this idea in the 2018 Fashion Show's activities, vendors and adornment.

An event recently added to The Fashion Show’s Pop-Up Shop roster, and that the planning committee is especially proud of, is the clothing swap.The clothing swap encourages ISU students, faculty and staff, as well as Ames community members to donate their gently-used clothing items to The Fashion Show in exchange for a new item of clothing during the Pop-Up Shop on April 13. Compared to other reusable materials, textiles have one of the poorest recycling rates with about 10.5 million tons of clothing waste occupying landfills annually. In recycling and reusing old clothing, clothing waste is reduced immensely.

"Apparel companies need to focus on their supply chains and production processes to find ways to incorporate sustainable practices," Brownmiller and Clark said. "Consumers can practice sustainable habits by purchasing garments that are made for multiple seasons, avoiding fast fashion retailers, reducing their clothing purchases and recycling their old clothing."

In addition to the clothing swap, Patagonia's Worn Wear College Tour is setting up shop on the Iowa State University campus. As part of its mission to "cause no unnecessary harm and implement solutions to the environmental crisis," Patagonia has developed this program for people to have their Patagonia gear mended by a traveling Patagonia repair team in order for their clothing to be worn longer.This program also offers an easy way for customers to recycle garments if they are beyond repair.

As another part of Patagonia’s visit to ISU's campus, representatives will be educating students on the importance of sustainability and the value of their voice in environmental issues. In doing so, they will be speaking to several AMD classrooms, engaging with high school students during The Fashion Show’s Behind the Scenes Day (April 13) and introducing their Fall 2018 concept at Fashion’s Night Out.

Furthermore, the Patagonia team will present a lecture at Iowa State University at 4 PM on April 12 in Curtiss Hall about Patagonia’s supply chain policies, agricultural perspective and product development processes.

The students involved in The Fashion Show are grateful for the opportunities that Patagonia is offering the show, ISU's campus, the Ames community and the planet. Striving for a sustainable future, Patagonia is helping The Fashion Show live every day like it is Earth Day. Show support for The Fashion Show by checking out the sustainable events sponsored and planned by this year's student team through the weeks leading up to the April 14 exhibit, and by buying tickets for the show. Experience and enjoy how The Fashion Show has incorporated sustainability, RESILIENCE and nature into its color palette, set design and student-designed garments.

"Participation with The Fashion Show has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our college careers," Brownmiller and Clark said." We both strive to take the knowledge from our apparel classes as well as the values and ideals we have adopted from our Guest Designer, Patagonia, into our future careers.