University Fashion Group

Senior Tina Tran stands besides one of her newer designs.

Photo Credit: Avani Patel | Daily Texan Staff

As a junior designer and assistant to the head of show production for the University Fashion Group, I am beginning to understand just the tip of the iceberg of the UT fashion show — an event produced annually since the inception of The School of Human Ecology. 

Seniors on the apparel design track of the Textiles and Apparel Division will show five looks from their body of work in the UT Fusion Fashion Show April 23, produced by the University Fashion Group. 

What started as a variety of presentations to an intimate audience has grown into a professional event at the Frank Erwin Center, with experienced models provided by Webber Productions, an audience upward of 5,000 guests and televised broadcasting on Time Warner Cable’s Longhorn Network. This growth has been supported by the University Co-op’s financial support and the increasing involvement of students in the University Fashion Group.

The University Fashion Group has grown in scope and responsibility for the fashion show, and today the organization is the main producer of the event — building the stage design, developing marketing and PR around the event and coordinating back-of-house functions.

What started as a small band of students in 1978 has grown into a large organization with head, assistant and associate officers as well as general members. The organization serves to link members of all majors in the fashion tracks, bringing guest speakers to meetings and working backstage for local fashion shows as well as during New York Fashion Week. In the spring, the organization focuses on producing the UT fashion show, which is named UT Fusion this year. 

The organization names the fashion show every year based on submissions from general members. The current president, Ronit Joselevitz, has held several officer positions in the University Fashion Group and showed her collection as a senior designer at the UT Spectrum show last year. 

Serving all these roles, Joselevitz has “‘seen how the University Fashion Group has worked together to create a larger hype and plan a bigger fashion show through the perspective of a member, officer, designer and now president. It’s definitely helped [her] grow in terms of career path goals and has showed [her] just how multi faceted fashion can be.”

Distinguished senior lecturer Eve Nicols has been the director of the UT fashion show since her arrival at the University, and she heads an advanced event production course that meets twice a week, a requirement for UFG officers. 

Nicols believes “there are fashion shows in all parts of the fashion industry, so getting this experience is invaluable for several career choices. Leadership and event planning opportunities lead to work opportunities in the future.’” 

Students here at UT engage in show production and professional photo shoots as well as work with University administration and corporate sponsors, such as Lexus of Austin and Cotton Incorporated.

When I was a freshman, the University Fashion Group provided a community to unite fashion-minded students. As I was taking general core classes, the group allowed me to meet students I would spend much of my time with as I progressed through the program. 

As the assistant to the head of show production, I work with local hair and makeup salons to channel looks for our senior designers’ fashion show and photoshoots. I also help produce the show in terms of music and other aesthetic choices. 

The show production team serves as the liaisons between the fashion group and senior designers. As a junior designer, I will be participating in the Lexus of Austin Design Challenge, for which I will show a look which transitions from day to night. Twenty-nine junior designers will showcase their looks in the presentation room at the Frank Erwin Center, and the top 10 looks will be chosen to walk the runway. A text-to-vote poll will help decide the winners, who will receive scholarships from Lexus of Austin.

The senior designers have taken several design and presentation courses to prepare for the show. They each have developed an activewear look, which ranges from technical, functional sports to creative looks such as beekeeping and fan dancing. Additionally, each designer shows an evening wear or bridal look, as well as a three-look capsule collection.

Several fashion industry members in the Austin area critique these looks during “panels,” or presentations in which the designers discuss their inspiration and design process for their work. The fashion show provides them with an opportunity to have their work viewed by a large public audience as well as experience what fashion events will be like in the industry. 

The UT Fusion Fashion Show will be held April 23 at the Frank Erwin Center at 7:15 p.m. Admission is free, and all are welcome.

Patel is a business honors, finance and textiles and apparel junior from Sugar Land.

Haleigh Clark and Natalie Poché, textile and apparel seniors, pose with their designs for their senior show “Spectrum”. The show “Spectrum” will be held on April 24th at the Frank Erwin Center.

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Clothing patterns, scraps of fabric, garment bags and completed outfits fill the design studios of the second floor of Gearing Hall. Students sit at sewing machines and mannequins, perfecting the collections they have been working on all year. 

They are preparing for the University Fashion Group’s “Spectrum” fashion show Thursday, an event that showcases the designs of 26 students in UT’s fashion design program. 

While most of the designers are textile and apparel juniors and seniors, the event pulls in both fashion students and students outside the program to help run and promote the show. 

Because University Fashion Group, the show’s coordinating organization, is open to all students, there are opportunities to be involved in areas including public relations, advertising and model coordinating. 

“[‘Spectrum’] is pretty much University-wide because we have so many other majors coming and helping us, such as the communication school, art school, business school and all these other students involved,” textile and apparel lecturer Ockhee Bego said.

Textile and apparel seniors Haleigh Clark and Natalie Poche are both designing collections for this year’s show. Each was responsible for a sports wear look, a ball gown or wedding dress and three outfits that make up a mini collection. 

Both girls’ designs were inspired by history. Clark focused on the history and style of Ivy League architecture and clothing. 

“All of my colors are inspired by the colors of the pennants for, like, Dartmouth and Yale,” Clark said. “I used contemporary styling that I could imagine walking Ivy League campuses today.”

Poche, who is also the University Fashion Group’s president, chose to focus on Germany’s Bauhaus art movement, which took place from 1919-1933. 

“It was a time in art when things kind of reverted back to geometric shapes and things in their most natural form, so that really resonated with me the most,” Poche said. “I kind of took that and ran with it and designed what I thought resembled that time in art.”

The two both learned to sew from their grandmothers. Clark said when she was 12 years old, her grandmother would teach her to sew during visits by creating little projects that taught the basics of sewing. 

“I would watch Project Runway and take what I knew about sewing and challenge myself with little things,” Clark said. “Like, I would take an old skirt out of my closet and start sewing little trims that my grandma gave me onto that.”

In preparation for “Spectrum,” every few weeks came with a deadline for one of the outfits. After receiving critiques, designers would adjust and improve their creations. 

“There are times where that’s really tiring and emotionally draining,” Clark said. “But, at the same time, you come out of it feeling a lot stronger about your artistic vision.”

Poche said the end product made all of the preceding work worth it. 

“Putting it on a mannequin is way different than putting it on a human being,” Poche said. “So, when you have that for the first time its almost like, ‘Oh my goodness, this could be sold somewhere.’”

Models walk the runway at the UT 2013 Fashion Show Transcend held at Frank Erwin Center. The annual show featured the works of 23 textile and apparel seniors displaying a range of textures, material and designs. 

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

After months of preparation and years of dreaming, the University Fashion Group joined 24 textile and apparel seniors in showcasing their work at a culminating event of the year for UT fashion. 

Sponsored by Lexus of Austin, the annual UT Fashion Show, held at the Frank Erwin Center on Thursday night, featured over 120 designs in active wear, evening wear and bridal gowns. Designers used various textures and techniques including leather, faux fur and hand-crafted chain mail.

In addition to the fashion show, the group displayed “Immersed in Cotton Room,” an exhibition of jeans and T-shirts solely made of cotton. The designer of the best jean and T-shirt will receive a free trip to tour the Cotton Incorporated headquarters with a chance to make connections in the fashion industry. 

“I feel like tonight is my graduation,” said University Fashion Group President Angeli Aguilera. “[Since the] first meeting of my freshman year this was the moment
I wanted.“

Natalie Poche, textiles and apparel senior and model coordinator for the group proposed this year’s theme of “transcend,” to go above and beyond. According to Aguilera, the purpose of a theme is to provide inspiration for the designers.

“I feel like all the designers take the word and make it their own,” Aguilera said. “Its not a unified thing. It’s whatever it means to them, and it’s a chance to show the world what [the designers have] been thinking and dreaming about for so many years.”

Karen Bravo, a lecturer in the department of textiles and apparel and one of three directors of the fashion show, said she sees how emotional the event is for all
24 students.

“It’s sort of like the students’ soul,” Bravo said. “You’re actually seeing all these years that they’re putting into school and learning and challenges they’ve faced.”

Cameron Silver, named one of the 25 most influential people in fashion by Time Magazine, presented awards at the end of the show. The Lexus of Austin Design Challenge was awarded to Christine Lew and the best overall design went to Mehgan McKinney. 

Textile and apparel senior Nicki Garcia said she felt relieved that the show was over.

“I’m excited for what’s to come,” Garcia said. “It feels good to get my stuff out there after all the hard work.”

Design senior Cecillia Vu adds finishing touches to her garment Wednesday afternoon as final preparation for the 14th annual University of Texas Fashion Show. The event is free for the public and will take place at the Frank Erwin Center on Thursday evening.

Photo Credit: Debby Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Anticipation hung heavy in the air of the University Fashion Group’s general meeting Tuesday. Business-as-usual points were quickly attended to and members scattered after announcements to meet with their committees. It was crunch time, and the organization’s biggest event, the annual University of Texas Fashion Show, was looming.

“You kind of feel like you’re being stretched in a million different directions at this point,” UFG President Angeli Aguilera said of her tasks leading up to the show. “You have to cover just every detail that if you went to the show you might not even notice, but if you’re putting on the show, you have to cover if you want it to be good.

Thursday marks the 14th annual fashion show, a showcase of senior textile and apparel design students’ collections. The event has grown in attendance almost tenfold since its inception in 1997. That year had about 500 in the audience; last year’s show, “Contour,” drew more than 5,000. After months of preparation, this year’s production, “Transcend,” hopes to grow in scope even more.

“We hope to match last year, if not more,” said UFG’s director of public relations Elizabeth Allensworth. “This year we have an actual seating chart which is a new thing, with assigned seating for our VIP guests. At this point we pretty much have everything ready to go, making sure everything is done for the front-of-house, VIP areas, making sure our special guests are still coming and ready to go.”

All of the details are taken care of by six different committees that ensure everything from securing and dressing models to building the stage and winning over sponsors are taken care of in time for the show. Planning starts months in advance. 

“A lot of the planning work starts in late fall, like picking the theme and getting PR releases out,” Vice President Tyler Neal said. “It’s important to get that done early on so we can start finding sponsors in time to get everything paid for. Then most of the work is done January through March.”

Meanwhile, upstairs in room 212 of Gearing Hall, designers cut and stitched the finishing touches on the garments they would put on display to thousands in a matter of days. Discarded fabric littered the tables of the room that had been, for the past few days, more or less home for the designers participating in the show. Textiles and apparel design senior Bang Nguyen pinned up a sequined vest on a mannequin before stopping to speak.

“It looks a lot better in person, on the model,” Nguyen said. “On the mannequin it just looks so wide and boxy.”

Details like these, making adjustments to the garments so that they fit properly on the models, are just one more thing to consider for the students who already put in overtime to make sure their collections are runway-ready.

“Since the weekend, people have been here around the clock, sleeping in the lab,” Nguyen said. “We really have no time to go home or do much anything else. Once fall semester starts and you start working on your first sketch for your first look, that’s it, you give up your life.”

The late nights, the planning, the manual labor will all come to fruition tonight at 7:15 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center. The program is free to the public and features events starting at 5:30, with an after-party downtown to follow the runway show. Along with gaining exposure for their work, awards will be given for Most Innovative Collection, Most Marketable Collection and Best Evening Gown, among others. To the officers, committee members and designers, the production will be the result of months of work, and a sigh of relief.

“I feel like I won’t even be able to breathe again until Saturday, when everything’s all done and taken care of,” Aguilera said. “I always compare it to being pregnant. When I became president I was like, ‘Okay, I’m pregnant.’ And through the past months it’s been like making sure everything was all in place for when the baby arrives…once the show happens, it’ll be like my baby’s finally born.”

Printed on Thursday, April 18, 2013 as Fashion show 'makes it work'

Members of the University Fashion Group who attended New York fashion week shared photos and experiences with the rest of the group at their meeting Tuesday evening. 

Photo Credit: Mikhaela Locklear | Daily Texan Staff

Several members of the University Fashion Group took their annual trip to New York last week to participate in Spring Fashion Week. 

From Feb. 7 to Feb. 11, UT students were exposed to the city and its fashion while acquiring hands-on experience backstage. To kick-start its first meeting since the week spent in New York, the group compiled a montage of clips and photos to summarize an unforgettable experience.

UFG is a student organization that promotes discussion and interaction between students interested in the apparel, textile and retail industries. According to its website, the UFG provides networking opportunities through internship and volunteer activities in the local fashion community. Select members also have had the opportunity each year to become involved in New York Fashion Week.

Throughout the week in New York, UFG members worked for top designer brand shows including Timo Weiland, Tess Giberson and Lela Rose. The group coincidentally bumped into Kelly Cutrone, the famous American fashion publicist and television personality. She invited students to sit in the front row at Sergio Davila, winner of Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award for Best Menswear Designer 2009 in New York.

Textiles and apparel junior Shelby Smith said the trip was beneficial because seeing the atmosphere in person instead of sitting in a lecture hall makes the industry feel real.

“People have this stereotypical idea that fashion designers are on top,” said Smith. “This trip really proved that wrong. I never met so many famous people that thanked us and made us feel at home backstage. I learned from them that you can still be true to yourself in such a big city.”

UFG President Angeli Aguilera, who accompanied members of the group, said she has been going for the past three years and each time she feels more inspired.

“It’s a good experience because a lot of people are impressed by having Fashion Week under their belt,” Aguilera said. “New York is the major leagues for fashion. Just being there inspires you to apply it to our fashion show.”

Every year, UFG organizes the senior fashion show at the Frank Erwin Center. The event is open to the public and about 5,000 people attend, Aguilera said. 

Textiles and apparel sophomore Jade Watermiller said she learned one of fashion’s most important lessons last week.

“You never know who you’re going to run into, so you always want to be well dressed and make a good impression,” said Watermiller.

Published on February 20, 2013 as "Fashion group participates in NYC trip". 

Public relations juniors Elizabeth Allensworth and Jonathan Ochart are the public relations officers for UT’s University Fashion Group. Elizabeth descibes her style as classic whereas Jonathan pulls fron vintage influences.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Although Austin has experienced a mix of rain and mild temperatures this past week, summer can often seem like a never-ending season in central Texas. While many students opt for the ever-trusted Nike shorts and T-shirt combination, comfort and fashion do not have to be mutually exclusive for the last few weeks of erratic Texas weather. The University Fashion Group, a student organization with a goal of spreading principles from the arts through means such as apparel design, textiles and retail merchandising, has a few tips and tricks for surviving the heat that is bound to return in upcoming weeks.

“Wearing layers is pretty much a death wish [for summer], unless you enjoy sweating on the way to class,” said Jonathan Ochart, assistant director of public relations for the group. “So, to add personality to my everyday look, I try to incorporate bold colors, stand-out prints and interesting accessories.”

Although some may be eager for fall’s layering-friendly pieces such as cardigans and sweaters, this can prove impractical. To combat this, Ochart recommends unique color choice and accessories like jewelry, belts and wristwatches to add subtle variety to your wardrobe. “

Mixing basic shorts with a v-neck in eye-catching hues, from an intense cobalt to a calmer, yet pleasing tone like mint green, provides a break from floods of burnt orange and neon,” said Ochart. “Some guys shy away from v-necks, but in reality, they streamline the body, creating a more flattering and stronger torso.”

Alongside v-necks and tank tops, UFG member Christi Williams recommends polo shirts as another way to dress up an outfit without having to throw on any unnecessary layers.

“My look over the summer is what I liked to call modern prep,” said Williams. “I love the classic polo shirt with an Oxford button up and some cute loafers, but at the same time I like to consider myself a vintage queen. I love retro denim and 80s cuts and prints.”

When it comes to dressing for summer, Elizabeth Allensworth, director of public relations for UFG, suggests creating a pair of cut-offs out of old Levis from thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange, allowing for a quick fix to any outworn pair of jeans. She also recommends sundresses as a summer staple, paired with accessories to add flair to a simple piece.

“Kendra Scott’s new Skylar Earrings have been a favorite of mine this summer,” said Allensworth. “They are light enough to wear all day and don’t add the weight that a big, heavy necklace does, which can also be terribly hot. Those earrings with my watch and go-to rings and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!”

Alongside bimonthly meetings, the group also organizes an annual senior fashion show for design majors. For more tips, the University Fashion Group’s newly launched website’s street style section features students’ looks as spotted throughout the UT campus.

“Scrolling through these photos can provide viewers with several ideas for putting together their own outfits that not even 100 degree weather can destroy,” Ochart said. “Or, even better, attending our bimonthly meetings grants students the opportunity to meet stylish guest speakers and fellow UFG members for fun fashion ideas in real time.”

Printed on Monday, September 17, 2012 as: Fashion club offers tips to dress cool

Backstage volunteers attach a headpiece to a model wearing Rebekah Hoffer’s collection as part of the Contour fashion show at the Frank Erwin Center Thursday evening.

Photo Credit: Andreina Velazquez | Daily Texan Staff

From psychedelic mushroom-inspired dresses to a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”-inspired collection, graduating designers showcased their final works at the Frank Erwin Center on Thursday night.

Twenty-three textiles and apparel seniors sent about 120 original designs down the runway at the 13th annual Division of Textiles and Apparel fashion show sponsored by the University Co-Operative Society and in collaboration with the School of Human Ecology. The University Fashion Group organized and produced this year’s fashion show focusing on the theme “Contour.”

Marketing senior Angeli Aguilera, vice president of the University Fashion Group, said the theme of the show was meant for the designers to incorporate lines and shapes in their clothing.

“It was really up to the designers to take the theme and figure out what it meant,” Aguilera said. “Every designer interpreted it a different way into their outfits.”

Judges of the show included local industry professionals who awarded prizes for Best Fashion Collection, Most Innovative Fashion Collection, Most Marketable Fashion Collection, Best Constructed Fashion Collection and Best Evening/Bridal Gown.

Textiles and apparel senior Sofia Maldonado, was the first designer to showcase her collection, “Mercado.” Maldonado said she was inspired by her half-Salvadorian ancestry and the marketplaces in El Salvador where fabrics are sold and made.

“I also have a strong theater background, and one of my most passionate plays that I performed in and designed took place in the 18th and 19th century and was inspired by those silhouettes,” Maldonado said. “Along with that, I incorporated color and natural fabrics and combined with them with the actual market fabrics to make a chic summer line that is marketable and desirable.”

Maldonado said it was a long process for all the designers to complete their collections from the drawing boards to the pattern making and final fittings.

“It’s very time-consuming and you learn that time management is really important,” Maldonado said. “Personally, I’ve had to sacrifice a lot this semester and not see my friends and family, but these other designers are my family and we’ve spent all-nighters trying to figure out problems on our own, but experience is always the best way to learn.”

Karen Bravo, faculty adviser for University Fashion Group, said she wanted the show to impress the estimated 5,000 people in the audience and the people from a national and international scale who watched the live webcast.

“I wanted people to leave here amazed that the school can put on a professional New York Fashion Week production, which I think we gave them,” Bravo said.

Textiles and apparel senior Ashley Trevino, one of the designers, said her collection was inspired by the style of the 1940s and the movie, Casablanca.

“I wanted to update those things with fun colors and luxurious fabrics and make it a lot of fun to see,” Trevino said. “I hope that when somebody sees it, it makes them smile and reminds them of the beach because it is resort wear.”

English junior Tyler Neal, director of public relations for University Fashion Group and male model for senior designer, Albert Zhou, said Zhou’s collection was friendly for all seasons.

“It’s classic menswear with a little twist with a European cut that’s very sophisticated,” Neal said. “I can wear the pants in the summer or in the winter and wear different shirts with it, as well.” 

Textiles and apparel senior Sam Kidd styles her model Chloe Jayne in Kidd’s original bridal dress at KEYE TV studio before an interview Tuesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Batli Joselevitz | Daily Texan Staff

With help from the University Fashion Group, 23 senior textiles and apparel students have been working day and night for months to prepare for their annual fashion show Contour, in which they will exhibit their designs in front of thousands on Thursday at the Frank Erwin Center.

The senior designers’ collections will attempt to embody the word “contour,” with a focus on the way the students manipulate shapes in fashion. There will be more than 120 designs on the runway, including bridal gowns, evening gowns, men’s wear and digital printing as well as many more innovative collections.

“We start planning and figuring out sponsors the week before Thanksgiving,” said Katrina Raz, textiles and apparel senior and head of show production at the University Fashion Group. “We really start getting things together in the spring semester and release all the promotion on one day so we get people’s attention.”

The University Fashion Group has different committees that do the manual labor for the show such as fitting backstage, acquiring sponsors, setup for the show and preparing gift bags while making sure everything is in order. Some students in group are also designers in the show, playing two parts in the production.

Each student prepares three outfits for their collection and can choose between an evening gown and bridal gown for their fourth piece. Some students have a fifth piece, which is a knit garment. They’ve been working on their collection, including accessories, for the entire semester, sometimes working 10 hours a day and throughout the weekends.

“I slept [in the studio] for three days once,” said designer Albert Zhou.

Zhou is working on tailored pieces inspired by espionage and secret agents. Everything in his collection is black with hints of gray and white.

“The collection should show the skills we’ve learned. From the idea, colors, fabrics: something should thread each look to another,” said Stefant Phonthephasone, the group’s president and a design senior. Janie Kang is the only student in the show to experiment with digital printing on her garments. Light is the inspiration for her collection, and she has created designs for men and women.

Kang painted on a canvas and then chose a portion of her artwork that she wanted to be printed. She then scanned the section of artwork onto her computer and, after choosing the color and type of fabric, sent the materials to a printing factory in North Carolina. The result is a sleeveless mini dress with a symmetrical blue and yellow pattern.

Kang had to have the dress rush-delivered, which she had to pay for with her own funds. The University Co-op provides a scholarship of $300 to each of the students, but the rest of the budget comes from their own savings. Some designers pay upwards of $600 out of pocket for their fabrics and supplies.

Harrison Koiwai’s collection is inspired by his childhood and experiences growing up as a biracial person; his mother is an Italian and Scott-Irish-American and his father is a Japanese-American. One piece from his collection is a kimono that he painted himself, with his plaid childhood blanket sewed underneath.

“I didn’t think about the collection too much until I had to, so I didn’t get tired of it,” Koiwai said.

The seniors were graded during a final panel last Thursday, but the show is going to be the grand finale of their careers as textiles and apparel students at UT.

“It’s a really good feeling,” Phonthephasone said. “It’s kind of like our graduation because families come, it’s the end of the year and we’re embarking on a new journey.”

Published on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 as: Designers showcase their final pieces at UT