In honor of Black History month, the African-American Textile Society hosted its first African-American Fashion Fair Feb. 12. The show was an excellent display of just how creative and fashion savvy N.C. State’s textile and fashion students are. The friendly competition was similar to the pageants fraternities and sororities often hold according to Stefan Ashford, a junior in French and fashion textile management. Ashford said the show is pretty much a competition of who is “the flyest in black fashion on campus.” Five contestants were judged by a panel of three AATS members. The focal point and theme of the competition was to demonstrate the evolution of black fashion from the 1800’s until today. Upon entering the Textile Convocation Room one could notice the visual timeline setup in the back of the room. The timeline started in the far right corner of the room with the fashions of post-Civil War America and ended with the fashions of today in the far left corner with a classy, retro feel. The purpose of the timeline was to visually demonstrate the impact African-Americans have had in fashion over the last 200 years.
Contestants were divided into male and female divisions. All contestants received tickets to the AATS Apr. 2 Fashion Show in Stewart Theatre, which annually attracts numerous representatives from several apparel design companies. The first place winners from both divisions received 50 dollars in addition to the tickets. Outfits could be either hand made or store bought in the fashion show competition. The contestants were judged on how cohesive and creative their ensembles were. A brief explanation of each contestant’s inspiration and reasoning behind their clothing choice was also a factor and was the basis for the judges’ final decision.
Thursday’s event attracted N.C. State alumnus Jacob Whisnant who majored in textile and apparel management and now works as a fashion recruiter with Abercrombie and Fitch. He attends events such as the Fashion Fair to see if there are prospective employees for his company here on campus. Whisnant worked for Abercrombie and Fitch for three years when he attended N.C. State and upon graduation was hired right away. He quickly elevated to a corporate position. He said the most important thing for students to do in the fashion field is to become involved in an organization such as AATS or pursue internships with a program such as ENROADS. Whisnant said it is important for students to link up with someone already in the field they are looking to earn a career in.
The female first prize winner in the Fashion Fair was Jessica Couch, a junior in textile apparel management. Couch is interested in a career working with the government; researching and developing new fabrics and materials. Her winning ensemble was very representational and well-thought out. She wore red framed glasses and all black clothing accented by gold jewelry. The red framed glasses represented the blood African-Americans spilled for freedom while the gold jewelry represented the wealth of native Africa. Couch’s all black clothing was actually composed of three different fabrics representing three different periods in black history; cotton representing slavery; silk representing the black Diaspora and lycra, a synthetic fabric to represent the future. The male first prize winner Julian Mack, won sporting a modern theme. Julian, a junior in creative writing said all of his clothing was purchased from Urban Outfitters. He said that he drew his inspiration from a modernist, mixed and matched theme, much like that of hip-hop artist, Kanye West. Mack wore an un-tucked button-up shirt with converse tennis shoes and topped it off with a flashy bowtie around his neck. Jessica Fulks, a senior in textile and apparel management, and president of AATS, said the idea behind the Fashion Fair was to get AATS’s name out. AATS hosted a basketball tournament and participated in community service projects this year to spread awareness about their organization. The organization is open to anybody of any major interested in fashion or textile design. The next big event that AATS will hold is the Apr. 2 fashion show which will take place during Pan African week.