Kent State Fashion’s Portfolio Showcase Transforms into Digital Experience
For the past six years, every spring, 20-40 recent fashion graduates from the Kent State University School of Fashion, make the trek to New York City for the annual Portfolio Showcase. While COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, the annual event was transformed into a digital showcase for 2020 for the safety of the students, faculty, and fashion industry guests that typically attend.
The Portfolio Showcase allows those who have recently graduated from the School of Fashion, the opportunity to present their portfolios to alumni and industry leaders. The event is designed to foster connections between alumni, educators and the fashion industry, to recognize students who have produced outstanding work throughout their Kent State career, and to assist graduates as they make the transition between their student and professional lives.
Typically, each year, early in the spring semester, a jury of alumni industry professionals visit the School of Fashion and review portfolios from the entire senior design class. Throughout the visit, they spend time with each student, critique their portfolios and offer advice. Each alum is matched up with 15 students who have created a portfolio in the category or market that the alumni are currently working in, such as technical design, knitwear, activewear, accessories, childrenswear, menswear and womenswear.
This year, a week before alumni were slotted to visit, the University announced that all university campuses would be closing for the remainder of the semester and transitioning to virtual learning, a decision made under the guidance of the Ohio government. Kent State Fashion faculty and staff quickly came up with a reimagined idea of what a digital version of the portfolio showcase could look like.
“Our students worked tirelessly for the weeks following and put their entire portfolios of work onto their websites before some of them even had the chance to finish their collections,” said Kent State Fashion associate professor and Portfolio Showcase organizer, Sara Snyder.
The alumni that were initially scheduled to attend, all of whom currently work in the industry for companies such as Alexander Wang, Ann Taylor LOFT, Black Diamond, WGSN, Roller Rabbit and DKNY, all agreed to continue critiquing and working with the students remotely. During one week at the end of March, all 99 senior designers were reviews by alumni virtually over Zoom.
“Through this platform, they were able to share their screen and discuss their digital portfolios. This method still allowed the students the chance to develop a personal connection with a professional in their field that will hopefully continue as they begin their careers,” expressed Snyder. “The alumni chose a top selection of students that they felt were industry ready and had a diverse approach to design.”
Through the virtual critiques and the hard work of the students to complete their portfolios digitally, Snyder compiled the information into a digital magazine, archiving the work on a online platform. “We are proud to provide this digital magazine that will leave a long-lasting impression and have the ability to reach a wider audience for our talented graduates to showcase their work.,” said Snyder.
The finished digital portfolio can be found online via the ISSUU platform and the School welcomes all to view and see the talented work of the students.
“Inside the magazine, you will find examples of their work along with contact information, should anyone want to reach out to them directly regarding their work,” expressed Snyder. “Our goal is that this new batch of designers will be able to offer inspiration and support as your doors reopen and we move forward with a new season of health and hope!”