Student-Designers from KPU Address Fashion Pet Peeves with their Pre-Grad Collections

The Wilson School of Design’s Fashion Design and Technology cohort presented their collections at 2019’s year-end show

Angela Jihea Cho, creator of NABI Intimates, hopes to empower women with her Korean inspired lingerie line. (Tristan Johnston)

With files from Tristan Johnston, Contributor

Nervous excitement filled the air on April 18 as professionals and soon-to-be professionals in the fashion industry took their seats along the catwalk.

The Fashion Design and Technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Wilson School of Design is renowned for its intensity, but at the cohort’s annual fashion show this year—fittingly titled “The Show”—23 student designers proved that hard work pays off.

With an emphasis on sustainability and technology, The Show—and the accompanying portfolio viewing—displayed garments ranging from minimalist to eccentric, intended for audiences of various age groups.

The atmosphere at the event captured the sense of victory that the student-designers felt after four years of painstaking work, nearly living on campus, and hustling to make the grade. For many, The Show is their last hoorah in the program, making the event somewhat bittersweet.

Samantha Chio’s line, Viere., was created for young girls who suffer from skin disorders to reduce irritation. (Kristen Frier)

As part of their work for The Show, these graduates targeted and overcame niche problems within the fashion industry. Take, for example, Samantha Chio, whose line of children’s wear, Viere, is for young girls with skin disorders. According to Chio’s research, most “skin safe” clothing is only available up to a size one, but many children are affected by skin conditions until they reach the age of five or six.

“I chose the niche that I resonated with because I grew up having bad eczema,” she says.

Bad Dog is a line for the eccentric festival go-er, by designer Hayley Bohan. (Tristan Johnston)

Chio’s line uses gentle fabrics such as bamboo and tenzo, which can help minimize irritation. The clothing she creates is made with fibers which are Standard 100 Oeko-Tex approved, meaning that they are certifiably free of harmful substances and therefore safe for human use. Her playful, tagless garments have flattened seams placed strategically to avoid chafing.

Also showcased at the event was FIKA by Rebecca Burnett. Named after an element of Swedish culture in which people take a moment to enjoy a cup of coffee, FIKA is intended for a mature, relaxed audience.

“I designed my collection for a baby boomer that is kind of eccentric,” says Burnett. “Just because she’s getting older doesn’t mean that she wants to start hiding her body or hiding behind her clothes.”

FIKA, by Rebecca Burnett, is designed for the sophisticated baby boomer. (Tristan Johnston)

Burnett chose the baby boomer demographic because, although they are the largest consumer market in Canada, she says they are “invisible in every kind of marketing.” Taking her inspiration from art, FIKA is for a sophisticated woman, but one who can also enjoy a nice cup of joe. For Burnett, the creation of her coffee-named brand was the product of having many mugs as she worked towards getting her education.

“Honestly, this whole last year I’ve been at school from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm every day,” she says. “I’ve pretty much lived here.”

Fashion Design and Technology students at the Wilson School of Design learn every aspect of how to create, market, and sell a worthwhile garment. Their hope is to create something that will be kept despite the prominent idea that clothing is disposable.

Patricia Te is the designer of the To Me: collection, which marries femininity-based inspiration with a new trend called “modest fashion.” This up-and-coming style focuses on very simple cuts, but Te chose to make it a bit bolder to allow for greater self-expression.

MAZI Streetwear transcends gender bias for an inclusive, transformable, unashamed audience. (Kristen Frier)

Using fashion as a means of expression can be a daunting task for people with unconventional tastes. Madison Morris’s line, Mazi Streetwear, seeks to address this by empowering those who rebel against societal expectations “with the intent to transcend gender bias and stereotypes.”

“A big complaint from the market is that they wanted a lot more fit and a lot more personality,” says Morris.

She explains that the gender-free market tends to feature loose, formless, boxy silhouettes and plain colors. This is to steer away from conventional gender associations, such as dressing girls in pink or designing suits with broad shoulders for men.

Mazi Streetwear rejects that convention, using bold patterns and form-fitting shapes to allow the wearer to shine.

“I wanted for you to be able to show off your body because you are confident and you are comfortable in who you are,” says Morris.

Other Fashion Design and Technology graduates from this year also strived to solve a diverse range of everyday problems through their apparel design.

A line by Angela Jihea Cho called Nabi Intimates features lingerie inspired by Korean culture to empower women.

Road Riot, by Dayle Wilnechenko, “provides female cyclists with a safer commute in a low profile way.”

Bad Dog, a women’s rave wear collection by Hayley Bohan, mixes texture and color to incorporate comfort into making a bold fashion statement.

Regardless of which designer and collection attendees liked the best from 2019’s The Show, this graduating class of accomplished designers did not cease to amaze.

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