When searching for the newest trends, one may not have to look much farther than the designs of students right on campus.
A year after their designs were showcased at the StyleWeek NorthEast SEED show, Austin Snyder ’13 and Brown-RISD Dual Degree student Caitrin Watson ’13 have continued their pursuits of success in the fashion industry.
Designing with depth
At last year’s SEED competition, which featured work by students at local colleges and universities, Snyder presented a high-necked black gown with dramatic sleeves, a piece he previously told The Herald was highly inspired by the Bosnian conflict. The collection also included two other pieces representing Serbia and Croatia, each conveying the position of the respective country during this hostility.
“I have a stance on fashion that is different from a lot of other designers. I see so many people starting a collection with draping or texture,” Snyder said. “But I get analytical with a myriad of ideas. With those pieces, I dove deep into this conflict, and designing was my way of processing how something like that could occur.”
While he is still working with historical themes, his recent work shows a shift in materials away from the knits he used at SEED.
“After (the SEED competition), I moved to tailoring, which is essentially the organic chemistry of fashion design. With tailoring, I was able to create a lot of the coats in my most recent collection,” Snyder said.
Last summer, Snyder interned in London for designer Mary Katrantzou, focusing on prints. As a fashion designer, Snyder said it was interesting to learn more about how form is created and how print drives design.
Along with applying to graduate and design schools, Snyder said he is currently looking for paid internships and wants to go overseas. His dream job is to work in an haute couture house in France. Unlike in the United States, the French government monitors these houses to make sure garments are crafted impeccably, he said.
“Heading a couture house for me is like being the CEO of Goldman Sachs. I love the craft and culture,” Snyder said.
Snyder’s senior show featuring some of his work will be in List Art Center 221 through Thursday, Feb, 7.
A sustainable future
While Snyder said the SEED show was a good opportunity to showcase his designs, Watson criticized the SEED program, which was focused on creating “innovative” and “green” fashion pieces.
“Even though the dress that won was great, something isn’t green when you simply stick leaves to it or because it is made out of garbage bags,” she said, referencing the use of repurposed objects — such as mops — that last year’s winning design featured. “The industry, as a whole, has gotten past the mentality of literally making clothes out of post-consumer waste. Now, it’s refined. We have suits made out of plastic bottles, but they look like regular suits.”
Watson has spent much of her time designing sustainable pieces, she said. She prefers to focus on knitwear because she can stitch patterns right into the fabric, she said, instead of cutting the fabric and disposing of the scraps, which creates waste. Watson often researches where her fabrics are made, she said.
“I’m interested to see how luxury clothing moves into sustainability,” Watson said, adding that she believes the fashion industry will someday mandate eco-friendly practices. “They’ll need people who will be useful in this area, and that’s a job I hope to fill.”
After graduating, Watson said, she would like to work for a company like Levi’s, which she said prioritizes sustainability by cutting down on the amount of water it uses and pollution it produces.
The many hours dual degree students spend learning techniques have helped prepare her to enter the workforce, she said.
“Entering the real world as a designer is in some ways less nerve-wracking (for me) than it is for a lot of people. We’ve been trained in specific skills,” she said. “When we graduate, we feel like we’re ready.”