With childhood memories of crafting garments for her dolls and watching her mother use sewing patterns, Lauren Freeland rediscovered her love of fashion as an Apparel and Textile Design major at Michigan State University.
“I didn’t realize I wanted to pursue fashion design as a career until college but, looking back now, I can see I’ve always had a love for it,” said Freeland, admitting that she didn’t know how to sew until she took a class at MSU her freshman year with Assistant Professor Saetbyul Park. “I’m so grateful this program allows beginners to explore the major without a portfolio for admission.”
Through mentorship from Department of Art, Art History, and Design faculty Rebecca Schuiling and Therèsa Winge, Freeland showcased three original upcycled designs at the 2022 VIM Fashion Show.
“I created some awesome pieces that were in last year’s show because of the classes we have here,” Freeland said, “and I’m working on some that will be in the show this upcoming spring as well.”
“Knowing how the body moves and reacts to exercise in different climates helps me understand what type of material and clothing individuals need to feel comfortable and confident whether they’re hiking, running, or just chilling out.”
While balancing her academic pursuits, the MSU senior is also a member of MSU’s cross country and track and field teams. This past summer, she combined her passions for athletics and fashion design by interning with Marmot, a sustainable outdoor clothing and sporting goods company.
In order to gain hands-on experience in the apparel business, Freeland traveled to Marmot’s headquarters in Rohnert Park, California, during the summer of 2022 to work as a Tech Apparel Merchandising Intern where she researched new sustainable initiatives for the company. Working under a hybrid schedule, she attended one-on-one check-ins with co-workers and sat in on fabric selections in the office while working on assigned projects and connecting to online meetings at home.
“I built upon my communication skills and was able to learn how to use a new online database system for apparel and equipment,” she said. “I learned what it takes to bring a season of new products to market while managing side projects and being in constant communication with co-workers.”
Freeland found out about her internship with Marmot by establishing an initial connection with an employee through LinkedIn. That employee then provided her with a link to an application, and after a round of additional meetings, she received a phone call with the offer.
“Racing with my teammates is one of the most empowering things I’ve ever been a part of. I love the challenge of pushing my body to its limits and seeing how fast I can be.”
“I’ve always been interested in hiking, climbing, and surfing, so I researched different brands that make apparel for those activities,” Freeland said. “I wanted to work with a brand that I supported, and I was extremely lucky to get a response.”
The internship culminated at the end of summer with Freeland delivering a final presentation describing her findings on sustainability.
“Because of my background in running, this experience definitely opened the door to athletic wear design,” she said. “Knowing how the body moves and reacts to exercise in different climates helps me understand what type of material and clothing individuals need to feel comfortable and confident whether they’re hiking, running, or just chilling out.”
Freeland first started competing in cross country and track in middle school, and by her high school graduation, she was recruited at the Division 1 level. Following a round of university tours, she chose to enroll at MSU and continue her athletic career as a Spartan.
In 2022, she was named an All-Academic Athlete by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.
“Choosing to run and pursue fashion here has by far been the best choice I’ve ever made.”
“Racing with my teammates is one of the most empowering things I’ve ever been a part of,” she said. “I love the challenge of pushing my body to its limits and seeing how fast I can be. We have the best teammates and coaches here and I know our team has even bigger things in store.”
MSU’s women’s cross country team has won the Big Ten Championship in three of the four years Freeland has been on the team. In 2022, she also qualified for the first round of the NCAA Outdoor Championship in Track and Field in the 1,500-meter race.
“It was great to learn how to race at such a high level and it makes me even more excited for my time left competing for MSU,” she said. “Choosing to run and pursue fashion here has by far been the best choice I’ve ever made.”
Written by Kseniya Lukiy