Joseph McRae, jumping hurdles, moving forward

JILLIAN SMITH | Staff Writer

McRae's  clothing line  TribeKa

McRae’s clothing line TribeKa

TribeKa Haze1 TribeKa Haze2 (1)

There are many words that describe senior Joseph McRae. He describes himself as just a “simple guy.” I found that hard to believe. Spontaneous, talented, and inspired are just a few adjectives that came to my mind when we met.

McRae is an electrical engineering and applied mathematics major. He was one of the only non-textile students to participate in last month’s 18th Annual Fashion Expose. This annual event was hosted by the African American Textile Society in the Atrium of the College of Textiles.

McRae was the 1st place winner in the advanced category out of 18 designers and received a $500 gift card, according to Gabriel Murphy, a junior in polymer and color chemistry and the event planner for the African American Textile Society.

McRae proved how far he can extend himself from the structured world of math and science into the free, creative field of fashion design.
The differences in these two fields of study that he is interested in are what McRae called his “hurdle,” and it is one that he just recently got over. This was part of the inspiration for his collection as well.

McRae said he struggled with his major his first few years in college, but ultimately decided he would finish up his degree to eventually combine it with his interest in fashion and clothing design.

His clothing line, much like his time in college, progressed from a structured, business feel, to more artsy and relaxed. The collection was called “TribeKa Haze,” a name that came to McRae based on two simple ideas he had for his models: barefeet and sunglasses.

“Creativity is my outlet,” said McRae, “I express myself through art.”

McRae is from Charlotte, NC and grew up with an older sister and a younger brother. Their mother made many of their clothes, so he was able to observe sewing and design from a young age. However, he did not begin until years later when he went into high school.

He admitted he was nervous about entering the fashion show as he lacked some of the technical skill and formal design education that other participants have received, but when a designer dropped out and a spot opened up, McRae jumped on the opportunity.

“Joseph had about 20 pieces in his collection, most of the other designers had somewhere between three and eight,” said Murphy.

McRae credits his number of pieces to an early start, as he began making them in January, and adjustment of the designs.

Following the themes of transformation and creative freedom, McRae allowed for mistakes and changes to occur within his designs. He did not start with any sketches, he let his loosely established ideas turn out however they might as he created his patterns and sewed away.

“I feel like with anything when you plan it out, to a certain degree, you’re limiting yourself,” he said.

McRae will be graduating in Summer 2015 after his last few courses are finished. He plans on going back home for a few months after graduation to take some time off before jumping into new opportunities.

“I’ve gotten to a point where I’m content with the fact that I don’t know where I’m going to go and I don’t know what will happen” he said.

Much like his designs, McRae prefers to let his creativity guide him, never knowing what the final product will be like until it’s done.

“What this collection taught me was that you can never fully plan out something and expect it to be the way that you planned it. Just go with the flow, if it’s meant to happen, it will happen,” he said.