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Spotlight: Student group aspires to raise fashion consciousness

The stereotypical college dress code, immortalized in films and books, includes ripped jeans, untied sneakers and a sweatshirt bearing the college's name. But looking around Brown yields a different conclusion — students are more inclined toward stylish, sporty chic and dapper get-ups rather than careless outfits.

These well-dressed students inspire members of Fashion at Brown, a Category I group officially recognized by the Undergraduate Council of Students in the fall that attracts students who are passionate about everything sartorial.

The group grew out of Brown's first annual student fashion show, a project Alexandra Schultz '11 initiated last spring. The show was accompanied by a design workshop and a model takeover of the Main Green designed to advertise the show. Schultz, who studied fashion design in visual arts classes, "saw how much interest and how much talent there was in fashion on Brown's campus," said Mia Zachary '13, director of Fashion at Brown.

Schultz organized a fashion show in which designers from Brown and one from the Rhode Island School of Design presented two or three of their designs on student models. The show was a success and sold out with 200 attendees, many of whom gave positive feedback on the students' innovative designs.

Fashion at Brown plans to build on that success, expanding the show to a full fashion week.

"We finally developed a name for ourselves. The group has really consolidated," said Eve Blazo '12, a coordinator for Fashion at Brown who styles and works with models.

By becoming an official group, members hope to eventually have access to more resources from the University, including money from UCS, so they can expand the group's influence on campus, Zachary said. "I think (Fashion at Brown) would like very much to become a group that gets a lot of funding because we have some pretty ambitious goals for events," Zachary wrote in an email to The Herald. She added that the group opposes the UCS proposal to amend its constitution so it can control its own funding because "it seems to risk not only the financial security of existing student groups but also to hinder the possibility of expanding new ones like ours."

Last year, the group received funding from the Creative Arts Council and revenue from the show's ticket sales.

"We really didn't know what we were doing, so we didn't have a lot of expenses," Zachary said.

Fashion at Brown is still applying for grants from the Creative Arts Council and Brown Student Agency. The group will also look to raise funds through bake sales and ticketing, and it is also looking for sponsors, Zachary said.

These funds will primarily go toward financing a fashion week  in April. The week will consist of fashion documentary screenings, a speaker and do-it-yourself workshops, Zachary said. The week will culminate in the fashion show, which the organizers hope will be better attended and more cohesive than last year's.

"I think styling can always be better. That involves music choices, making sure the designer's vision is articulated well and also coheres to the styling of hair and makeup," Blazo said.

Money will also go to non-fashion week events, such as the Sported@Brown release party Feb. 24. Sported@Brown, created in part by Blazo and Arlando Battle '12, is Fashion at Brown's new blog, mainly featuring photographs of street-style fashion from around campus and profiles of students, Blazo said. The blog's slogan, "Fashion for Everyone," emphasizes the group's goal to feature not only fashionable people, but also those who have a conscious style and "whose fashion sense reflects their larger goals in life or things that they are passionate about," Blazo said.

"It's not just about you and your Marc Jacobs bag," Blazo added. "It's about you and your hand-me-down bag, and the story that was passed down from your grandmother to your mother and now you have this bag."

In the future, as Fashion at Brown grows to be a bigger presence on campus and gains more funds, the leaders of the group hope Sported@Brown and the fashion show will continue to expand and are considering making the show biannual, Zachary said. The group also aspires to have more events throughout the year and to partner with Unhemmed, the campus' fashion magazine and BlogDailyHerald.

This will all hopefully contribute to the group's goal of making the University a place where people are conscious about fashion and present themselves with creativity, Blazo said.

"Fashion is becoming a presence at Brown," Blazo said. "I really hope that continues because everyone is implicated in fashion every day, and the way people curate themselves deserves to be celebrated."

"We may not be the most stylish group of people on campus, but we love what we are doing," Zachary said.


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