Who is fashion for?
Everybody partakes in fashion whether you think you do or not. You’re wearing jeans
or wearing an evening dress. I don’t know about you, but I do not know any nudists.
We all buy in.
How has clothing changed?
People used to cherish their clothes because of the garment’s and textile’s quality,
workmanship and costs. So we’re looking into the past and asking, ‘How can we design
and deliver a garment that is more prized, more valued?’ There has been a change
in consumers’ fashion attitudes. People are encouraged to buy quantity at low prices
while not making the investment in higher quality garments that also might come
at higher prices and longer wear. This type of consumerism is difficult to sustain.
What’s happening is that people are buying fashion apparel inexpensively, wearing
it only a few times and then tossing it. And when you think of donating clothes
to charity, even that can be problematic. The garment may end up in a developing
country where it is bought cheaply and this can hurt their own economy because
they are not supporting their own country’s struggling fashion industry. This is
why our FDM department’s mission is to bring awareness to our students on global
What inspired you to research sustainability?
While teaching at the University of Delaware, the fashion staff and I realized there
was a need for more ethical and responsible practices. We brought together different
professionals from Under Armour and other industries to focus on sustainability.
We developed a sustainability initiative to examine concerns and offer options.
Addressing sustainability issues is complex and multi-layered within the fashion
industry. Challenging questions include: Where and how are textiles manufactured,
packaged, transported and recycled? Are workers’ human rights being supported?
Are our natural resources being protected? How can we increase consumer awareness?
What are your students’ dreams?
Anyone that says, ‘Oh you’re a fashion designer, that’s so easy’ — they have no
idea. Designers put so many hours in and have to think on so many different levels,
especially now in this day and age.
Some of them would like to have their own company, but I always give them the advice
that they need to work for another company — learn on somebody else’s dime before
they ever go out on their own. And I’ve had some students be very successful
on their own. I want them to find a job in fashion that they’re really interested
in and feel like they’re making a difference.