The Wesleyan Argus | Student of Color Fashion Show returns after a two-year hiatus

c/o Wesleyan SOC Fashion Show

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Student of Color (SOC) fashion show will return to the Beckham Hall campus on Friday, April 22 from 6-8 p.m. Student artists, designers and models from a myriad of backgrounds came together to put on the show, which is made by and for students of color.

The event is entirely student-run under the guidance of the SOC Fashion Show Committee and will consist of 12 lines by student designers. In the past, this event has also been a way to showcase student talent for incoming first years during WestFest. Due to changes to the WestFest schedule this year, admitted students will not be able to attend. Nonetheless, the show has been significant in the past for students of color who have visited the campus.

“I [believed] we [should] really try to make the show happen because it was something that everyone loved,” said Kelly Nano-Miranda ’23, designer and SOC Fashion Show board member. “During WestFest, I saw a little snippet of it. I was like, ‘You have to make it happen.’ I think that was a very important thing for the student of the community of color.

Earlier in the year, the designers applied to showcase their work at the show by sharing their vision for their potential line and discussing the importance of the show as a whole.

“For the most part, we accept anyone who applies because there is a [small] number of people who really want [make] this commitment,” said Nano-Miranda. “It’s a pretty big commitment to make clothes, come to rehearsals, and oversee all your models.”

Each designer can present up to eight looks on the catwalk. While some student designers have chosen to create original clothes, others dress their models in second-hand, found or borrowed pieces. The organization received funding from the University to help the designers achieve their goals and fund the details of the show’s presentation.

“The administration gave us a budget of $1,800, and that money is used to install the lighting, install the sound and pay the photographers,” said designer and board member Faijul Rhyhan ’23. . “Each designer gets $120 towards their budget, which is really good because I feel like most people save money if they find new pieces.”

That being said, it has been difficult for some designers to find space on campus to complete their work. While Hewitt Eight’s Workshop studio was a helpful resource, some designers would have liked greater accessibility for those without their own supplies.

“Thiss actually been quite stressful because there iss very few resources on campus for people to create clothes, especially if theyI’m a designer…but the workshops are a really good place where they give you a lot of materials,” Nano-Miranda said.

Although fashion is the main event, the students also decided to include other artistic elements, such as music. Each designer has created a musical mix that will be played by DJ Joseph Godslaw ’23 as their models parade down the catwalk.

“The music definitely makes the show,” Rhyhan said. “If you were walking people around in really cool outfits but you [had] bad music being played, that might take some away, but everyone will come up with some really great mixes, and it’s going to be so exciting to see.

There have also been other ways for students to get involved in the show.

“I was tasked with overseeing two creative lines as well as designing and creating a brochure to archive and commemorate the attendees of this year’s fashion show,” Minyoung Huh ’25 wrote in an email to The Argus. . “It was really exciting to see how this process unfolds and [meet] all the creatives who put their energy into the show.

Some designers took to the show to air their views on the fashion industry, with Rhyhan and Nano-Miranda deciding to comment on the industry exclusivity.

“[Our line] is called FJK and at the heart of it…we figured out that we both like high fashion, but we don’t really like exclusivity,” Rhyhan said. “There’s no reason these really cool designs should be exclusive [and] costs so much money. So we tried to have a DIY approach.

Designer Jocelyn Velasquez Baez ’23 hopes to highlight the importance of being aware of the story behind designs, especially those associated with Indigenous cultures.

“I always advocate for people to buy from Indigenous businesses rather than buying from brands that culturally appropriate our designs and don’t give credit to the people who make them,” Velasquez Baez wrote in an email. at TheArgus. “[I hope to] show representation for and by Indigenous peoples in fashion, [in a way] that honors and celebrates their contribution, such as patterns, beading and quilting. All pieces in my line are handcrafted by various indigenous groups in Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador.

Velasquez Baez works with role models who have ties to Indigenous communities.

“[A]All of my role models identify with an Indigenous group such as Maya, Nahua, Mixteca, or Quechua, or are currently connecting with their Indigenous roots,” Velasquez Baez wrote.

Models play an important role in the show as they provide opportunities for students of color to walk and be seen in a space made for them.

“It’s been a bit scary knowing that so many eyes will be on me in person, but it’s also a big confidence boost and quite exciting,” model and makeup artist Kayla Penza ’24 wrote in an email. email to The Argus. “[B]Being on a platform is…building confidence once you know you can do that scary thing. I think it was a good opportunity to showcase myself and be part of something bigger than me.

More than 80 students applied to model in the salon, and the designers were given a book of models to peruse to choose the ones that fit their vision. The board hopes to make the organization inclusive even for people who were unable to model this year.

“Maybe in the future we can create a show where we can include everyone,” Nano-Miranda said. “I think it’s just difficult because not many people have signed up to become designers.”

Nano-Miranda stressed that it was important for more designers to attend the show, as the University’s fashion culture often does not represent students of color.

“Fashion is mostly concentrated or saturated with white fashion on campus,” Nano-Miranda said. “I just think there’s no platform for students of color to be seen.”

All 220 tickets for the show sold out in two days. The organizers are delighted to finally be able to have in-person spectators after the three-year break.

“I hope this show is a space for students of color to feel seen and appreciated as well as a way for us to connect with each other,” Huh wrote.

Nano-Miranda echoed that sentiment, acknowledging the importance of having a space where students of color can celebrate together.

“What excites me the most is seeing everyone together,” Nano-Miranda said. “It’s a very rare feeling to feel comfortable on campus, one hundred percent…. I hope it’s just fun for people, especially for our designers who have worked so hard.

The SOC Fashion Show is looking for new committee members and interested students are encouraged to apply.

Lia Franklin can be reached at [email protected].

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