Meet Top Talent from CFDA Fashion Future Graduate Showcase: Part 2

In a two-part profile FashionUnited has selected 4 standouts from this year’s CFDA Fashion Future Graduate Showcase which presented to the world 52 graduates from 12 schools across the nation. From a fashion/film collaboration on cultural identity to elevated tailored toiles, from optimism through knitwear to activism through activewear, these are the ones to watch.

Eliza Fisher, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City

What inspired your graduate collection?

My graduate collection investigates the needs of individuals with Sensory Processing impairments within the Special Needs community, with the aim of proposing new integrated design solutions for this underserved community that allow for greater expression of individual identity to those with invisible disabilities. This idea was informed by life experience and is developed in collaboration with the special needs community and through extensive research.

What was the most challenging part of its conception or creation?

There were several challenging parts to bringing this collection into being. The biggest hurdle was understanding how to accurately address the needs of this community. It was incredibly important for me throughout this process to incorporate feedback and attempt to understand the experiences of the Special Needs community. This involved a lot of cold-emailing and reaching out to people I knew as well as people I didn’t, conducting diverse research, then incorporating that research into my design process.

Describe your most memorable goal or achievement from your school career?

I think what I am most proud of is the way I managed to incorporate tech and engineering components into the garments. It’s one thing to have an idea and another to realize it. In the past I have explored many different making techniques, materiality, and engineering processes, but this was the first time I felt I successfully incorporated them into my designs in a way that is both functional and aesthetic.

Which individuals, designers, muses or other figures operating in or around fashion do you currently admire?

I really admire any company that is actively incorporating sustainable practices into corporate structures because I think this is what will truly change the future fate of our world. I closely follow companies like Evrnu, Bolt Threads, and Parley For The Oceans, who actively pursue change in their collaborations with Nike and Adidas. I also admire Lucy Jones of Ffora, Aurora James of Brother Vellies, and Studio One Eighty Nine.

What would your ideal next career move be?

Ideally I am looking for a design role that allows me to keep developing innovative materials, design and technology. I’m specifically interested in the active and sportswear industries.

What about the current fashion industry excites you?

I am excited by the amount of large scale collaborations and efforts I see some corporations taking to address climate change issues.

What about the current fashion industry concerns you?

I am concerned by the amount of waste and pollution the fashion industry generates.

Photographer: Meghan Krause; Model: Taj Cutting

Beam Ratchapol Ngaongam, Academy of Art University, San Fransisco

What inspired your graduate collection?

It originally started with human anatomy. As I was developing the collection, I felt so much stress, depression, and exhaustion that I was amazed how the human body could take all of it because I never thought I would be able to. It’s something that has changed me as a person forever. At some points I missed the old me, the person who smiles and laughs all the time, who was less short-tempered. But my journey as a knitwear designer includes sacrifices. The amount of commitment and work required translated into a collection that symbolizes chaos in its oversized garments and excessive wrapping. A moment of revelation happened when I realized how much the body could handle physically and emotionally. It all started with the fascination of how the human body works and ended up being an exploration of sadness versus beauty and the point where they meet.

What was the most challenging part of its conception or creation?

Knitwear itself is already hard to translate from inspiration into 3D due to its characteristic drapery. So I did lots of experimental knitting to find stitches that are both soft and give structure at the same time. Then because we don’t just cut fabric into shapes, I have to do stitch samples, tension samples, toile, calculate the knit into the shape as a toile. There were lots of mistakes, but the deadline wasn’t changing. A perfect toile doesn’t mean it’s all approved once I knit out everything. I still need to re-drape the knitted pieces to see if it will look how I want it. Unless, I use the actual yarns to knit out out a big piece and make toile out of it but that would be crazy expensive because all my yarns were imported from Italy.

Describe your most memorable goal or achievement from your school career?

The whole process of making my senior collection. I didn’t just get a collection out of it, I also got a family. My classmates were always there when I needed. We supported each other and I don’t think I would ever make this collection if it wasn’t for my friends. Also, after all of that hard work and sleepless nights, the moment I walked down the runway was so emotional, because, as I said to myself throughout this process, I will make it through to the end and people will get to see my collection on the runway no matter what.

Which individuals, designers, muses or other figures operating in or around fashion do you currently admire?

Spencer Vladimir, Rei Kawakubo, and John Galliano.

What would your ideal next career move be?

At the moment, I’m aiming for an assistant knitwear designer job at any company as well as an internship. But I would really like to work with an individual knitwear designer who recently just graduated from college because I think those designers tend to do more creative, experimental stuff compared to a big company. I still want to expand my knowledge and experience with knitwear in every possible way.

What about the current fashion industry excites you?

People starting to notice knitwear more. Before, I feel like the only thing people thought of knitwear was a sweater or scarf for winter. But now, it’s everywhere–-shoes, t-shirts, blazers, etc.

What about the current fashion industry concerns you?

Social media. With all the technology and power of social media these days, it’s so easy for my work to be spread around which is good because I will be noticed by people from the industry but at the same time it can be bad because people can steal my ideas.

Images: Lookbook Photographer, Nicole Anthony; Runway Photographer: Randy Brooke

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.

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