Fashionista School

One of the advisory boards on which I serve is the West Virginia University (WVU) Fashion Design and Merchandising School (FDM) Industrial Advisory Board. Through this position, I get to see the textile industry develop in my state and discover what students perceive as the newest styles and fashions. On a recent trip for an advisory board meeting, I witnessed exciting developments in both areas.

The day before the meeting, the Fashion and Merchandising school held its annual fashion show. At this juried event, students of all different levels entered their creations. There were feathers, fascinators and fedoras. There were mini skirts and very short shorts. It was the first time that I've seen pockets in mini skirts. Many of the outfits had pocket lining of different colored and patterned fabric, which I saw as being quite creative. Along with the feathered fascinators, fascinating
head gear included black crocheted hat decorations with butterfly patterns. You could easily see that a lot of work, time, effort and fun went into this fashion show.

The future was also evident. WVU-FDM frequently works with a local middle school, and those students participated in the fashion show. Their mission was to design according to the theme of "recycle, reposition and reuse." Indie designers follow the same path - the "green" one - so perhaps this collaboration is the birth of the next generation of the "Handmade Nation."

At our meeting, we also learned about the WVU Tartan project. The design and creation of a university's official tartan is a high honor, often under the auspices of the apparel and design school. Tartans are submitted to the Scottish Register of Tartans, and the design becomes a part of the school's identity. I can't wait to see how the official tartan of WVU comes together under the students and staff of the Fashion School.


The Fashion School at WVU places emphasis on fashion and retailing, but since it is under the Agriculture School, there are also discussions on recycling, the use of animal fibers, plus the use of textiles in agriculture applications. As with any school, jobs are the goal. The students are learning draping, machine skills and merchandise knowledge. The challenges are out there. Time will tell if the program is a success, but from my perspective it is an exciting time for the textile industry in West Virginia. We are looking forward to growth both in and out of the state.

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