Students forge interest in fashion

Though they may not always be in the spotlight of the Yale extracurricular scene, a number of students are committed to bringing fashion onto campus.

This Friday, student organization Runway Inc. will present the latest iteration of its annual fashion show, “Light from Ash: Fashion’s Resurrection,” which will feature designs that contrast light and dark colors and benefit All Our Kin, a local childcare support charity. The show’s models will wear clothing from local stores like GANT, Jack Wills and Idiom, as well as from Elliy Peng’s ’12 original collection. While many fashion-related student organizations, most of which have relatively few members, seek to raise awareness of the value of fashion on campus by hosting fashion shows, students in these groups explore the field in a variety of ways, from designing clothing out of recyclables to walking the runway in designers’ spring collections.

“Fashion at Yale is a small component [of student life],” said Anna Wang ’14, the director of design for YCouture, a student organization that designs handmade clothing. “But there is definitely a place for it. Fashion is so applicable.”

Several organizations use fashion to promote or fundraise for humanitarian causes. Runway Inc. brings to campus apparel from professional designers and local clothing stores, while donating its proceeds to a different charity or nongovernmental organization each year. The show highlights in particular the efforts of designers and stylists with backgrounds normally underrepresented in the fashion industry, including women, African-Americans and Asian-Americans, said Djenab Conde ’15 and Ajua Duker ’15, the co-fashion directors for the show.

Wang said YCouture, which includes roughly 10 active members, brings together students from a variety of backgrounds and majors who share a common interest in fashion. The organization collaborates with other clubs, such as Colleges Against Cancer last October, to host fashion shows, she explained. Each student works on his or her own to create a design using whatever material or method his or her “heart calls for.” Wang said she likes using alternative materials like trash bags, mesh or plastic to make clothing.

“Fashion can be the power to change the world,” said Sewon Jun ’16, who works with the World Micro Market to sell jewelry made by female artisans from Mexico, Vietnam and Kenya. Jun said she is hoping to found a student organization for the academic analysis of fashion design next school year, adding that she wants students to realize how closely fashion relates to everyday life.

Jun also helped organize a fashion show by the Arab Students Association last Saturday. The event, attended by roughly 50 students and professors in the Ezra Stiles dining hall, featured traditional Arab clothing worn by models from both Arab and non-Arab backgrounds.

“It was a different way of showcasing our culture,” said Kenza Bouhaj ’16, the Arab Student Association’s freshman peer liaison who first raised the idea of the show. “The colorful, handmade clothes represented the long history and rich diversity of the Arab culture.”

Runway Inc.’s Friday show will take place in the Davenport dining hall.

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