As the winner of the bi-annual Spartan Fashion Design Collection Competition, Apparel and Textile Design senior Noel Thomas earned an all-expense-paid trip to the Spring New York Fashion Week (NYFW), a top event in the fashion industry that takes place twice a year in New York City. This is the first time Michigan State University has participated in the competition for the Spring Fashion Week, held in February.
This exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered Thomas two full days of activities ranging from job shadowing to attending fashion shows.
“The most exciting part about the whole week was simply the overall exposure to the fashion industry,” Thomas said. “I got to see the ins and outs of fashion week, including the glamorous and the not so glamorous parts, and I loved it all.”
Thomas also met and networked with designers and industry professionals.
“Prior to meeting some of those who I networked with, I had not heard of any of them,” Thomas said. “But after meeting them, I can say that I admire them all. I met designers from New Era, the creative director at Bloomingdales, and the man who pulls together NYFW.”
Thomas was the only student from MSU selected for the trip and joined 16 other students from other schools who also were selected, all thanks to a partnership the participating schools have with IMG College Licensing, which funded the trips.
“My desire to bring others joy has been my biggest inspiration to get into the fashion industry,” she said. “I want to make clothes or style people in pieces that make them feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident so they can go anywhere and feel good about themselves.”
I want to make clothes or style people in pieces that make them feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident so they can go anywhere and feel good about themselves.NOEL THOMAS, APPAREL AND TEXTILE DESIGN MAJOR
Each university that sent students to NYFW had a different process for deciding which student would represent them. At MSU, it was the Spartan Fashion Design Collection that helped determine Thomas as the winner.
For the Spartan Fashion Design Collection Competition, which was held this past December, students were asked to create designs without using any fabric or other traditional materials. Thomas used only the pull tabs of pop cans to create her design.
“My piece, titled The Armored Spartan, is a dress that I designed to reflect women standing up against people who have oppressed them,” she said. “The metal soda tabs that my dress was made from represent women linking together to form a strong, confident community that demands change. I also designed my piece to reflect the flapper women from the 1920s who stood up for their rights as women, just as other students continue to stand up today for equality and respect, especially within the MSU community.”
During her time at MSU, Thomas has had professors who have encouraged her to push her limits.
“These professors inspired me to want to try things that I may not have attempted otherwise,” she said.
Thomas, who will graduate in May 2020, has this advice for other MSU students, especially those going into creative fields: “You are responsible for going after your dreams and passions and you are the only one who can make those things happen. Do not be afraid to get denied or have others dislike your work. If you like what you are creating, that is what is important. If you love what you do, naturally, others will sense that and have an appreciation for it.”
Written by Caroline Caramagno