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Southwest Shadow


Fashion Students Sweep ‘Fashion Forward’ Event

Final round concludes after months of working and designing
Achilles Caranto
Posing for the crowd, senior Kyla Rodriguez models another students’ garment during the Fashion Forward event. “It was pretty stressful, especially with the time that we were given,” Rodriguez said. “With everything going on, we’ve had so many projects. My mind was going to so many different places, but I mainly put my focus on this, just preparing for it. I had to put 100% into it.”

Securing fourteen of the top sixteen spots amongst 250 competitors, the senior and sophomore fashion students have completed all rounds of the Fashion Forward event.

On Saturday, April 6th, students completed a runway show for the Junior League’s Fashion Forward event, before hearing the announcement of the winners of the competition.

“The runway experience was very nerve-wracking yet exciting at the same time,” sophomore Rizzael Maniego said. “The feeling of being in the center of attention and having everyone’s eyes on you feels very scary, but was thrilling because it felt like a moment to shine.”

Top finalists won over $200 in prizes, as well as a grand prize in the form of a year membership to the Las Vegas Fashion Council and internship opportunities. Each top sixteen finalist received personal sewing machines.

“It was really rewarding even just to have finished the shirt and I was a bit shocked when I heard my name,” sophomore Leonardo Chavez said. “I was just really excited and happy to have experienced the competition and to win as well. I will probably use my sewing machine as a backup, since I already have my own. The money will most likely go to buying materials like fabric and sewing notions, and personal use, like gifts for my family or girlfriend.”

In addition to the prizes granted to the top sixteen finalists, the Junior League also offered several technical sewing awards for an impressive display of skill, which offered the students interviews with Cintas Design Collective and internships with Britta Designs, all of which were won by Southwest Tech students.

“I am still waiting on information for the interview and internship, but plan to attend the interview and consider the internship,” senior Alyssa Hong said. “I was pretty confident with my technical abilities like sewing straight stitches, easing the sleeves, and catch stitching the hem to create a blind hem. I had worked on various projects before that had required some of the elements in my dress, but not all in one. I was very confident in my ability to sew and to sew well so considering the time I spent on this garment, I was really happy with the outcome.”

Fashion Forward is an event aimed toward enhancing the education for local design students, giving aspiring designers a chance to showcase their creations while focusing on sustainability within the fashion industry.

“Fashion Forward is where multiple schools from Vegas take part in a fashion competition where we’re told what garments and materials to use,” sophomore Sapphyre Leung said. “We all compete to make it. Then, it gets judged based on the sewing skills and how well it was done.”

The senior and sophomore fashion students competed in the first round of this event during the first semester, with many students feeling confident about their performance.

“I feel a little bit confident,” senior Kyla Rodriguez said. “If they just focus on my designs, I hope they’ll at least appreciate the hard work that I did. I definitely think that other people in my class are really good at sewing and have a really good chance at winning. I don’t really know about the other schools, so maybe I also have a good chance at winning with the others in my class.”

Soon after, the competing students worked to prepare for the second round, with the object of the round being to create a piece of clothing from recycled material.

“The preparation is a lot since there was more paperwork than I thought we had to do,” senior Hermoigne Sarmiento said. “We had to do a mood board, three sketches, and a call sheet. The fashion kids were really working hard for the past month, but we’re all pretty excited just to see how our full garment looks.”

Having faced many difficulties throughout the creation process, students spent time experimenting with recycled materials to complete their full-scale garments.

“It’s been really stressful,” senior Danika Molina said. “We were given a smaller timeframe to complete our garments. I believe we were only given two months whereas others had at least three or four months to complete their garments. It’s just been a bunch of crunch time. It’s been super stressful. We not only needed to complete sewing our garments, but various documents and visuals.”

The second round of Fashion Forward was scheduled for those in the Fashion Design program amidst various other events (TSA, FCCLA), which created further challenges for the teachers involved and forced many students to work under a smaller time frame.

“Being one of the teachers involved with the Fashion Forward event was very challenging for a number of reasons,” Fashion Design teacher Levi Harbeson said. “The organizers were not forthcoming with information. The rules and way things are judged was changed or modified several times, along with the timeline of the competition. We also had all our competition stacked on top of each other. From a teaching perspective, it was extremely challenging. I expect from the student perspective, they’re also feeling the pressure and feeling stressed, but that’s just the way the competitions lined up this year.”

Despite this, those involved have expressed their optimism about the students’ performance and felt confident in what they worked to create.

“It’s been very overwhelming,” Graphic Design teacher Jennifer Gonzalez said. “This has been good for the seniors to learn how to manage their time, [but] it’s been challenging, but they did great. For them to still make garments that looked nice was a challenge because they have materials that aren’t good color options, but I still think they did a great job.”

As Fashion Forward came to a close, some competitors felt hopeful about what they’ve gained from this experience and events soon to come.

“I would say I’ve gotten a glimpse of what real life fashion industry work looks like,” senior Brenna Sison said. “Just having certain timelines, certain rules to follow and all these guidelines that are just what the real fashion industry is like. I’ve been loving to understand more of that and to obviously practice techniques that I haven’t learned before.”


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