By Travis Mounts, TSnews
HAYSVILLE – A big group of Campus High School students interested in fashion got to hear from and question local fashion designers on Nov. 10. Many of the students are in Alyssa Campbell’s fashion trends class.
Eight designers shared their stories with the students, and they brought along a rack full of clothes to showcase their styles and talents. Each came from different backgrounds, had different experiences, and told about their different paths into fashion.
Designer Christoper Gulick described himself as a kinetic artist. Focusing on sculptures, he started designing clothes after his wife got him into the television show “Project Runway.”
“I’m the juvenile delinquent in the room,” he said.
Gulick stressed collaboration.
“You have to work with your comrades. You have to work with other people,” he said.
Gulick, like many of the designers, has more than one job. He works at The Sewing Center in Wichita, and said the business is always looking for technicians. He compared repairing sewing machines to working on a Ferrari sports car.
Thomas Cottner calls himself a self-taught sewer. He has been designing clothes for seven years and said he learned from “YouTube 101.” Many of his designs are upcycled, meaning he uses previously-created clothes to create new items. He enjoys working with leather and creating a punk look.
“I like to make people feel uncomfortable,” he said.
Nina Winter of the TISSU Sewing Studio is a native Kansan who grew up in Wichita’s Plainville neighborhood.
“I consider myself more of an artist than a fashion designer,” she said.
She told students that if they are considering fashion design because they don’t want to study math and science, they will be disappointed. Math and science skills are needed in fashion.
She also advised them to turn off social media when starting a collection.
Winter works as a substitute teacher and earned her bachelor’s degree in education. However, she went to graduate school in San Francisco.
“You don’t have to follow whatever path everyone is doing,” she said.
Her first designs were for Barbie dolls and were made from tin foil and paper towels. She also told students to not put a timeline on their goals.
Many of the designers are associated with ICT Fashion Tour, which was founded by Anri. She is a self-taught artist who likes to explore her Asian American Midwest roots.
ICT Fashion Tour was founded in 2021. Its first runway show took place Oct. 29, 2021, at Public at the Brickyard with Art in the Alley. Twelve local designers were featured. Several more runway shows were held, with the last on Sept. 17 of this year at TempleLive Wichita. The mission is to provide opportunities for local designers.
Several of the designers talked about the critical role that social media – Instagram, especially – plays in helping them building their brands.
Mark Iozada of YGB studios said his fashion career started out of necessity. He saw a pair of shorts that were made from a football jersey. He loved them but they were $350 – a price he couldn’t afford. So he bought a $70 sewing machine at Walmart and watched YouTube videos to learn how to make them himself. He said he constantly posts online. One of his posts wound up catching the eye of the president of Complex Networks, a media and entertainment company in New York City that focuses on youth culture. The company also does media for major artists. Iozada wound up making a custom vest for the president.
“No one is stopping you from doing anything you want but yourself,” he said.