Kent State Fashion School Committed to Sustainability
Kent State University’s Fashion School continuously finds ways to innovate. Its unique lifestyle boutique, Fashion School Store (FSStore), in downtown Kent recently added a new line called “Sustainability RETOLD.” This collection includes sustainably made clothing, featuring work from five different students and three faculty.
During the Spring 2019 semester, Kendra Lapolla, FSStore director, and assistant professors Chanjuan Chen and Lauren Copeland received a grant from the FSStore to create a collaborative student collection. Students were provided a concept board and encouraged to rethink sustainability for the FSStore. Students then submitted ideas which were selected by a variety of Fashion School faculty, resulting in the creation of “Sustainability RETOLD.”
“The faculty involved are focused on sustainability research and wanted to see this develop into products for the Fashion School Store,” Lapolla said. “We thought of the RETOLD concept as an evolving idea for future semesters to rethink different concepts, starting with Sustainability for this fall 2019.”
This collection features clothing and accessories made from upcycled materials and environmentally friendly items such as candles and soaps. In recent years, upcycling and sustainable fashions have gained more popularity in the industry.
The fashion industry is quite detrimental to the environment,” Lapolla said. “By trying to close the loop through upcycling or second-hand purchases, we can help to eliminate waste. This process helps reduce the environmental impact by creating something new and not having to go through the entire manufacturing process again.”
Some of the highlights from the collection include a knit dress designed by Joelle Genco, ‘19, a fully fashioned knit that eliminates waste and is made in the TechStyleLAB; an upcycle guidebook to encourage others in the upcycling process, along with upcycled pieces designed by Margaret Busche, ‘19, and graduate student, Evelyn Rossol; a print by Alysha Parkhurst, ‘19, inspired by birds; and illustrations by Arin Weinstein, fashion design major, are displayed on greeting cards, planners and available as limited edition prints.
Sustainability is also taught in the school’s curriculum at a variety of levels.
The school currently offers a new course, Fashion School Store Learning Lab, focused on creating the store's next line, (r)EVOLUTION RETOLD. The class contains 15 students who are working to bring new ideas to life for the FSStore. The school also offers a course created by Noël Palomo-Lovinski, associate professor, called Sustainability in Fashion, focusing on sustainability and social responsibility in fashion.
We have a variety of projects for students in studio course to challenge the current system,”Lapolla said. “The Fashion School also actively has textile recycling bins throughout the building so that any scraps or unused fabric can be collected and used for other purposes.”
The school graduates approximately 350 students each year, who work across the globe in many levels of the fashion industry.
“In teaching fashion courses over the past six years, I have continually seen growth in students that are actively engaged in considering thoughtful ways to challenge the fashion industry towards a more sustainable direction,” Lapolla said. “I’m hopeful that what they've learned regarding sustainability at Kent State will make them impactful change agents in this industry.”
Learn more about the Fashion School Store