Five Design Students from the Class of 2022 on the Future of Fashion – WWD

The students of the Class of 2022 are, in many ways, a product of their larger environment. These young fashion designers completed more than half of their education during the pandemic, as the world around them faced turmoil and long-awaited social change.

While commercial interests have alleviated some of the fashion industry’s urgency around sustainability, social equality and inclusion, these graduate fashion students are resolute in their beliefs. Themes of nature, sustainability, building cultural bridges and inclusion were paramount in the collections of five recent graduates surveyed by WWD, who were highlighted by their respective schools for exemplary design work. Many of them have incorporated high-end knitting and recycled fabrics into their collections, imbuing designs with a sense of craftsmanship and longevity.

Here, students from five world-renowned US-based fashion design schools provide a window into their theses collections and design ethos as they look to a bright future:

SCAD student Beckham Lin.

Courtesy

Savannah College of Art and Design

Name: Beckham Lin

Hometown: Changhua City, Taiwan

Age: 22

WWD: Tell us a little about your thesis and concept projects.

Beckham Lin: This collection represents when a person leaves the comfort of home, like a bird leaving its nest to fly out into the world. Every journey people experience is moving towards a dream for themselves, just like the bird flying to new heights. The bird represents my journey of finding and building my own home and environment where I can be my true authentic self. Much inspiration comes from eastern and western cultural views of domestic and family dynamics. My collection explores the idea of [xiào or filial piety] and each look represents the different stages of growth and acceptance of freedom.

WWD: What is important to you as a young fashion designer? Where do you think the industry can improve?

BL: For me personally, authenticity and embracing my individuality are of utmost importance to shine in my art and collections. Fashion gives me a platform to communicate my feelings, desires, beliefs and connect with others. Sustainability and inclusion are incredibly important topics for me and my generation of colleagues. It’s inspiring that the fashion industry at large is prioritizing sustainability, body positivity, sexual identity and general inclusivity, and that there is also an openness to embracing new talent, especially a multicultural designer like myself.

WWD: Anything you’d like to say to the designers who’ve inspired you along the way?

BL: Three designers had a profound impact on me as an artist and designer and allowed me to see fashion as a true art form. To Iris Van Herpen, thank you for creating such amazing and thought-provoking clothes. To Alexander McQueen, thank you for your genius and for sharing your art of storytelling through design. To Guo Pei, thank you for always embracing your traditional Chinese culture and influences in your creations.

WWD: Do you have a job lined up? If yes, where?

BL: Next month, I’m excited to move to New York. I was impressed with the amazing and positive feedback I received on my final SCAD collection and I look forward to dedicating my time to developing my collection and making meaningful connections with the industry.

FIT student Monica Palucci.

FIT student Monica Palucci.

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Fashion Technology Institute

Name: Monica Palucci

Hometown: Pound Ridge, NY

Age: 25

WWD: Tell us a little about your thesis and concept projects.

Monica Palucci: Titled “Near home”, my thesis work references memories of the nature reserve where I grew up. It is a reflection of my relationship with the natural world. My work aims to explore a reciprocity with nature – facilitating outdoor experiences while taking a critical look at outdoor culture. Multifunctionality and low waste practices were implemented to expand the use of garments. Single fiber materials, hand-stitched reusable hardware, and biodegradable wax treatment were used to ensure circularity. My juxtaposition of found artifacts, traditional techniques, recycled hiking gear, and technical design is a nod to the disconnect between nature and how we sometimes engage with it.

WWD: What is important to you as a youth fashion designer? Where do you think the industry can improve?

PM: After my first year at FIT, I took some time to reflect on what it would be like to approach fashion in a way that I can feel good about. I dove into studies of sustainability, ethics, and size inclusion — looking for opportunities and experiences to help me answer that question.

At this point, it is widely understood that the industry needs to improve its sustainability practices, but this can be tricky at times. A commitment to long-term solutions is crucial. I think starting with fashion education is a great way to start.

WWD: Do you have a job lined up? If yes, where?

PM: I’m currently interning for Danielle Elsener at Decode MFG and doing some freelance upcycling projects on the side.

Parsons' student Briah Taubman.

Parsons’ student Briah Taubman.

Courtesy

Parsons School of Design

Name: Brian Taubman

Hometown: Los Angeles

Age: 22

WWD: Tell us a little about your thesis and concept projects.

Briah Taubman: My knitwear collection “Broken/Open” is inspired by a beautiful and suffocating relationship that ended up breaking up. This collection was born out of my affinity for yarn knits and vibrant colors.

The “anxiety shirt” is the one that most embodies this collection. The black and red cropped/spiral top pays homage to the visceral anxiety I felt when deciding whether to let go or hold on to my relationship for fear of not finding love like that again. Just like my shirt, I was bursting at the seams.

WWD: What is important to you as a young fashion designer? Where do you think the industry can improve?

BT: It is unfortunate to me that the industry has lost nuance as the collective continues to shift towards mass production, fast fashion and the rise of digital clothing.

I fell in love with fashion because, as an outlier, I finally found an art form in which I could express myself. I want fashion consumers to appreciate the workshops and the artisanal making process that takes months of meticulous design and craftsmanship. I would like design houses to only release two seasons a year, thus giving the designer time to reflect and gather inspiration for their collections without the pressures of impatient consumerism.

WWD: What is your dream job? Anything you’d like to say to the designers who’ve inspired you along the way?

BT: My dream job is to have my own brand, Artemis. I want my brand to give a voice to women who feel shy or unable to express themselves with words, just as I struggled as a child. I want my clothes to highlight the personalities of my consumers.

My other dream jobs would be working for designers like Glenn Martens, Kiko Kostadinov and Jonathon Anderson; these designers make me fall in love with fashion all over again with each collection.

WWD: Do you have a job lined up? If yes, where?

BT: I am currently working as a freelance knitwear designer for a knitwear consulting company called Studium. At the same time, I am a freelance stylist assistant for independent stylists and magazines, currently W and Mastermind magazine.

Pratt student Trung Tin Pham.

Pratt student Trung-Tin Pham.

Courtesy

Pratt Institute

Name: Trung-Tin Pham

Hometown: San Diego

Age: 21

WWD: Tell us a little about your thesis and concept projects:

Trung-Tin Pham: This collection, titled Synonym, is a fictional world I created from false identities. [When non-white communities have] an ID document delivered, there is a photo showing someone similar and, due to microaggressions and racism, the fake is accepted. Growing up as an Asian American, I often experienced the casual grouping of Asian boys as an archetype. Synonymous is my satire answer to all of this, releasing 12 similar-looking models, all posing as “Trung-Tin”.

My designs incorporate elements that can be found in different places in the collection, creating a clone feel.

WWD: What is important to you as a young fashion designer? Where do you think the industry can improve?

TT.P.: I think representation is very important for the industry. Growing up Vietnamese-American, I never saw people like me in any form of media, but I never questioned it. Leaving my hometown made me realize the importance of representation in all forms of art. The fashion industry needs to improve by humanizing people and work[ing] in diversity until it is reflected at all levels of the industry.

WWD: What is your dream job? Anything you’d like to say to the designers who’ve inspired you along the way?

TT.P.: My dream job is to be a knitting programmer working with Stoll or Shima machines. During my graduation I fell in love with knitting after taking a Shima Seiki class. My collection relied heavily on some complex programmed knits, which I’m very proud of. I have always sought to incorporate technology into my craft.

WWD: Do you have a job lined up? If yes, where?

TT.P.: I don’t have a solid job scheduled, but I plan to move from New York back to California to get closer to all the West Coast programming jobs.

RISD student Jackie Oh.

RISD student Jackie Oh.

Courtesy

Rhode Island School of Design

Name: Jackie Oh

Hometown: Seattle

Age: 25

WWD: Tell us a little about your thesis and concept projects.

Jackie Oh: The overall aesthetic was inspired by music artists adorning themselves with diamond-encrusted gold Jesus pieces and oversized clothing; as well as extravagant paintings of Christ, his past followers and enemies. Bordering on kitsch, camp and cathartic, I mixed casual yet over-the-top pieces with a “more is more” mentality.

WWD: What is important to you as a young fashion designer? Where do you think the industry can improve?

JO: I never focused too much on just clothes – I originally majored in FAV [film, animation, video] before taking on clothing design as well. And even then, I spent most of my time in the makeshift jewelry studio I’d set up among the sewing machines.

WWD: Do you have a job lined up? If yes, where?

JO: In fact, when September rolls around, I’ll be back in the classroom as a post-Bacc student here in Seattle. Hopefully I can do all my science prerequisites in the next two years and then apply like crazy to dental school. In the meantime, I’m working on a second children’s book with my brother, as well as spending time at a few jewelry studios in the area.

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