‘This is Going to be My Crunch Time Right Now’

Catching up with graduating senior Kaleigh McGreal as she prepares designs for the School of Fashion’s spring show.

Kent State Today will be following a group of Golden Flashes for the 2023-24 academic year chronicling their efforts and successes during the fall and spring semesters. The group includes students, faculty and administrators who are in different places on their Kent State journeys.

Year with a Flash Graphic

Even just a few months in, 2024 has been a busy year for senior fashion design major Kaleigh McGreal. This semester, the Parma Heights native has had to prepare her collection and finish her final classes as an undergrad as she gets ready for commencement and hunting down her dream job, working in fashion in New York City.

Kent State Today met with McGreal early in the semester as she was creating designs, cutting patterns and gathering materials for her spring collection.

McGreal’s Spring Collection

The collection McGreal is creating this spring features three pieces and is designed with sustainability in mind. “I’m going to be doing a unisex denim collection, all upcycled, which is interesting for me,” she said. “I’ve never done menswear before, so this will be my first time doing men’s sizing and also women’s sizing in one collection.”  

One of the pieces from McGreal's collection will be featured in the "Broken Denim" Collection in Kent State School of Fashion's Annual Fashion Show

Kaleigh McGreal Spring


McGreal is passionate about sustainability and would one day like to work with a sustainability-focused designer like Stella McCartney. Upcycling, in this case, means that McGreal collected used denim clothing from Goodwill stores, like finished jeans. She uses different pieces of each, seam ripping waistbands and employing different style techniques, including frayed edges, hanging strings, seams with contrasting threads and distressed looks.

Kaleigh McGreal Spring


Acknowledging that on some women’s clothing, the pockets are “tiny,” she will also be focusing on cargo pockets. “We’re going to be doing some cargo pockets and some bigger pockets with zippers,” McGreal said.

Kaleigh McGreal Spring
Some of the finished garments that McGreal has upcycled to create her designs. 


Piecing It All Together

“It’s like a whole puzzle piece, getting it all to fit,” McGreal said. “And that’s why it took me so long to actually start cutting because I need to make sure I had enough material. So, I was mapping everything out. I wanted to keep the pieces together.”

Kaleigh McGreal Spring


Using the patterns she created, McGreal can easily scale the garment sizes up or down with the models who will be wearing her designs and create the contours and shapes she has in mind.

Kaleigh McGreal Spring


There is a challenge in creating sleeves and other pieces from pieces of denim that were formerly pant legs.

Kaleigh McGreal Spring
This piece from McGreal's collection will be featured in the School of Fashion's Annual Fashion Show. 


“I’m very excited and right now everything is in different pieces, so I’m working on putting it all together,” McGreal said. “This is my crunch time right now. I have about a week and a half to pull everything together, photograph it, turn it in and have it ready to be worn.”

Kaleigh McGreal Spring
Kaleigh McGreal working in New York City for Fashion Week 2024

Her Journey

At the beginning of her time at Kent State, McGreal admits that she didn’t know how to operate a sewing machine. Since then, she has studied abroad in Florence and studied away at Kent State University New York City Fashion. While in New York, McGreal completed three internships in which she touched upon nearly every part of the fashion industry, from design to pattern making to taking samples to factories and assembly of the finished product.

Kaleigh McGreal Spring
Designer Victor dE Souza (left) with Kaleigh McGreal


While in New York, she also worked closely with acclaimed designer Victor dE Souza on his first bridal wear show. McGreal said that she never would have had the opportunity to meet dE Souza without Kent State. She has kept in touch with him and recently worked with him again on a show for Fashion Week in February, arriving a week before the show and helping with sewing and working behind the scenes.

Kaleigh McGreal Spring
Kaleigh McGreal with designer Victor dE Souza 


In her final semester, McGreal is excited to have a piece in Kent State’s spring fashion show and be involved in the show’s production.

“Since I was gone all last year, I wasn't involved in the show,” she said. “I know a lot of designers doing the B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fashion), so I'm a lot more connected this time. And then I just have more experience now. So, it'll be much more fun to be involved in a show, especially at Kent, because Kent did it all for me.”

Kaleigh McGreal Spring
Designer Victor dE Souza (left) working with Kaleigh McGreal during Fashion Week in New York City in February 2024.
POSTED: Thursday, April 18, 2024 02:33 PM
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2024 03:09 PM
Phil B. Soencksen
Kent State Today and Kaleigh McGreal