North Texas Daily

Fashion design students learn how to make it work in rigorous program

Fashion design students learn how to make it work in rigorous program

Fashion design students learn how to make it work in rigorous program
November 17
09:00 2018

On the second floor of the new art building, dozens of fashion design students are hard at work designing, sketching, cutting and pinning. Competitive and intense, UNT’s fashion design program does not formally accept students until the end of their sophomore year.

“In my head, I kind of just imagined this sort of ‘Project Runway’ kind of life,” fashion junior Aria Brown said. “But sometimes we joke around and we do say it’s kind of like ‘Project Runway’ because we have so many due dates back to back.”

The makings of a designer

Part of the design process written on a whiteboard. Jacob Ostermann

For some fashion design students, those around them have served as the greatest inspirations on their career paths. For others, they have served as their reality checks.

“For me, it started when I was a kid,” Brown said. “I used to love to draw so I would draw outfits a lot. My grandmother [had] this really old sewing machine. She’d let me play around on it [and] stitch little circles.”

When Brown’s grandmother passed away, she inherited the sewing machine. From there, she taught herself the basics of sewing.

“I decided I wanted to combine drawing and sewing, and fashion design was the best way to go about it,” Brown said.

Originally from Houston, she heard about UNT after googling the best fashion design schools in Texas.

Fashion sophomore Tory Flores grew up watching her father make her costumes for Halloween and fix her uniform pants for school. Her interest grew after attending a college summer going-away program at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she took a course in fashion illustration.

“In high school, I was just fashion illustrating and my art teacher was like, ‘If you’re gonna stay in Texas, you should check out UNT, they have a fashion design program,’” Flores said. “It was a win-win.”

Zaina Almaskeen, an international student from Saudi Arabi, is a former West Virginia University engineering student. Almaskeen said she originally wanted to pursue a degree in the arts, but gave up on her ultimate dream of interior design and undertook engineering due to discouragement from those around her.

“I wanted to change since the first semester,” Almaskeen said. “I think I wasted three years of my life.”

After those three years of discontent, she decided to make the switch. After struggling with her embassy to allow her to pursue an arts degree, she settled on fashion design. She said the Saudi Arabian embassy pulled its support after her first semester of fashion design study, but she still pursues it. Her inspiration for it now comes from her daughter.

“After I had my daughter, I started liking all kinds of children’s clothes and that’s where it started,” Almaskeen said.

Originally a lover of drawing and sketching, sophomore Jose Negrete’s passion for fashion design started in high school when he saw an Armani collection that was “beautiful.”

“I’ve always been an art kid and I always wanted to express it somehow,” Negrete said. “And I feel like making clothes is a way of expression and I want to help people express themselves better.”

Negrete also sees fashion design as a way for him to prove to the nonbelievers that he can be successful and make it out of his hometown of Pecos, Texas.

What it takes

A sewing machine used by fashion design students. Sewing is an important skill needed for the program. Jacob Ostermann

With project turnarounds so quick students oftentimes do not have time to eat, many of them describe undergoing this program as the hardest thing they have done in their lives.

“It was like a punch to the face coming into the second year,” Negrete said. “All the classes have a heavy workload and it turns out you don’t have time for anything else besides these classes — how much goes into [it] [and] how much time you have to put into it.”

Flores said a lot of the students in the program are sleep deprived and often get into accidents driving. On top of that, Flores says many drop out due to the mental, physical and emotional stress of the program.

“You have to want this to get this,” Flores said. “Sometimes you don’t even eat. You have to skip lunch but you have to make time for all that because it doesn’t help if your body is sick.”

In support of art

Jose Angel Negrete setting up his shirt to be displayed. Jacob Ostermann

Brown said the common misconception is that art is easy to pursue.

“The most common thing about art in general, but especially fashion design, is people assume that if you’re doing something art related you’re not that smart or you don’t really have any goals or plans,” Brown said.

For Almaskeen, support from those around her is key.

“As long as I have supportive people around me, I’m fine,” Almaskeen said. “My husband [is] very supportive. When I’m busy, he’ll take my daughter for 24 hours and will let me work and he will not complain. And I appreciate it.”

Although fashion design can be competitive, classmates try to keep each other’s mood up and are supportive of each other.

“Even within the fashion program we’re all pretty supportive of each other,” Brown said. “The friends I’ve made in the program have really kept me going, too.”

In spite of the heavy criticisms and break-neck pace instructors in the program can implement, Negrete and Flores said they felt supported by associate professor of fashion design Hae Jin Gam.

Originally a professor of 10 years at Illinois State University, her first semester at UNT has shown her how special UNT’s fashion design students are. Gam said the program is much more hands-on, technically challenging and up-to-date.

“UNT’s fashion design program is special because it is within the College of Visual Arts and Design,” Gam said. “In terms of curriculum and within the college and department, the foundational courses that help students build skill and knowledge, make this program outstanding.

Students must be able to keep up with the new technologies, community issues like sustainability and new fashion trends.

“My belief in teaching is that I have to create an environment where students are motivated,” Gam said. “Sometimes they underestimate their own ability. [I say], ‘Just believe me and you will get there.’”

In spite of these obstacles, students find inspiration in their work.

Flores finds inspiration in what everyday people wear or certain eras like the ’70s or ’90s. Brown finds excitement in all of the fields available to her in fashion design and hopes to test them all out. Almaskeen hopes to make children’s clothes and Negrete wants everyone to be wearing his name, like Michael Kors or Calvin Klein

“It’s gonna be hard, but it’s okay,” Flores said. “This too shall pass. In the future you’ll look back and be like ‘Damn, I worked really hard for a reason: To get here, where I’m at. And I’m here.'”

Featured Image: UNT Fashion Design students from left to right: Zaina Almaskeen, Aria Brown, Jose Angel Negrete, Tory Flores. Jacob Ostermann

About Author

Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad