On a typical (beautiful) day in Buckhead, GA., you can always find something of interest to do. The affluent community is an up-town district of Atlanta and host to an array of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and hotels with beautiful views of the city. What about the fashion community?
Beth Cowperthwaite, Director of Public Relations, and Celeste Boehm, Vice President of Corporate Retail Relations—both of UBM Americas —thought Buckhead as a great place to connect students and graduates with the fashion community at-large. By partnering with Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), UBM Fashion brought Connect: Atlanta to the swanky Buckhead community on Thursday, June 9th at the Regent Cocktail Club, to showcase the SCAD School of Fashion’s senior and graduate collections.
Both women worked together to help establish a new partnership with SCAD, and acknowledge the college’s impactful presence in the region. “SCAD is a huge part of this community. Not just in Atlanta, but Savannah as well,” said Cowperthwaite.
“UBM is about serving the communities they are a part of and creating connect events to ‘connect’ retailers, exhibitors, brands, influencers, celebrities within the community, and charities,” said Celeste Boehm, who’s been with the company for 11 years.
According to Cowperthwaite, it is hard to break into the fashion industry. Her advice is instead of being separated, the community needs to come together and unite to help each other and further inspiration. With the Connect event, UBM facilitates in “nurturing desire in the industry,” and for designers looking to get a foot in to the fashion trade, the event has served useful.
Let’s Meet the Designers
“Im a really, really easy and simple person. I don’t have a lot of masks on.”
Kexin (@XINZKX), 26, graduated from SCAD in 2016, and moved from Fujian, China, when she was 12 years old.
Her collection, Transformation of Human, is inspired by minimalism. “I tend to want my designs to look minimal with a pop of design,” she says happily as she sips her drink.
“The collection was inspired by the masks that humans put on to cover themselves of who they really are. First we are born nude, but with time, we wear something else and tend to learn things from our surroundings. We adapt new things and put things on to change who we really are for better or worse.”
Her full collection is based, mainly, off of sheer fabric. She closes off the edge of her garments, and uses a top-stitch to create a bound on all the garments. The bounds are symbolic of her “drawing you within the bounds.” The sheer is representative of the masks we wear. Hence, “the more layers you put on, the less you see of the body,” says Zheng. Conversely, the less you wear, the more you are able to see the true nature of a person.
What challenges do you face in designing?
Fabric picking has always been a challenge for Zheng. At least 40-50 different sheer fabrics are carefully examined for the perfect comfort and feel. Not to mention, the finishing for the fabric. Sheer can be uncomfortable with its sharp edges, and Zheng must find a way to “close it up” in order for the wearer to be comfortable.
SCAD Fashion Show
SCAD invited Zheng’s collection to be a part of Shop the Runway. She was invited by the president of the college herself, President Paula Wallace. “It’s really an amazing opportunity for me, because a lot of people that have been invited have graduated 5-6 years ago and show their brands that are already in market. I guess they really liked my design.”
“I’m really excited. I’ve never been to a party like this before with all the models wearing your stuff and having people walk around them. It’s a very different experience for me.”
“With all that is going on in the world right now, I just want to bring positivity and life. That is why I use soo much color.”
Viviane Carvalho (@V_I_V_Design), 37, graduated last year with a B.A. in Fashion Design from Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Goias (UFG), and has been here for 15 years. She grew up in an artistic family where they would regularly visit museums and galleries.
“That’s how I learned to look at things around me in a different way,” stated Carvalho.
Her passion for fashion had conceived with her mother giving her freedom to express herself in whichever way she liked. Carvalho harnessed that creativity and pursued her fashion degree at Universidade Federal de Goias (UFG) where she graduated. Upon moving to the United States, Carvalho learned that her degree would not be honored here in the states and had to start all over. As hard as it was, she pressed on finally graduated from SCAD with her B.A. in Fashion Design in 2016. In her studies, Carvalho says she tried to bring as much fashion culture from Brazil to the Americas, as possible, to unite the two.
Modern yet Alive.
This is the term she used when describing her cross of American and Brazilian culture.
“…where I am from we are so connected with being outside, and just warm and enjoying life. It’s just a different kind of living and I try to bring that element to the United States.”
“I realized when I actually started listening to myself, that I actually loved the results better.”
Rikki Raiford (@RikkiiJ), 22, studied Fashion Design at SCAD and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree just a few days ago. When she first came to school, she got her start in womanswear, but switched over to menswear later in her college career. When asked why the change, she says, “The market is so saturated (with womenswear), and I think menswear has more of a place for me. I feel like I understand what men want more… I kind of dress like a guy in some ways.” According to the young graduate, her style is an androgynous one. RikkiJ, Raiford’s collection is seen below:
Inspired by modern-day oppression in the black community, The RikkiJ Collection, provides a reference to slavery. With her new collection, Raiford became the first senior (male or female) ever to have four looks featured in the SCAD Fashion Show. Not to mention she opened the show. Cleah Murray, 54, who was in attendance at the Connect event, is a Sewing Technician for SCAD. Murray, who has been instrumental in assisting the graduate said, “I’m super proud of her. She’s work so very hard to get here.”
Admittedly, her silhouettes are “not really wearable” for the average lay, but “people who are into high-fashion can get away with it. It takes a certain type of taste to gravitate toward it.” Rikki J uses 100% cotton in referential memorial to slavery and the garments used for clothing then.
Rikki J describes some of her biggest challenges throughout her college career were listening to what other people were saying (“This isnt going to work or that silhouette wont work.”) more than believing and trusting her own vision. “When I started listening to myself, I loved the results!”
Rikki J looks to take her collection to New York and pursue her fashion career there.
All in all, it was a good night for the SCAD alumni in being able to show their work and meet other entrepreneurs inside of the fashion industry.
Celeste Boehm describes it a such: ”
“This has been a win win on so many levels. As I look around (the venue), it doesn’t matter where you are or what part of the fashion industry you are in, they are all talking and having a connection in some way. People are passing around business cards and networking.”
“There are new designers who graduate a year ago from SCAD who are just dying to get into the market…dying to make some money…dying to get some exposure. And to hear them say that, ‘I connected with you, or I connected to a retailer tonight, or I connected with the PR agency…I was able to get a resource that will help better my business and help me grow without spending money,’ is rewarding enough for me.”
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