Rising RSO fosters fashion community

Whether we realize it or not, fashion surrounds us each day. From wearing a swimsuit to the ARC pool this week to pulling on a pair of riding boots before class this October, fashion is a part of our daily routine. Yet, despite fashion’s presence, there seems to be a lack of fashion education opportunities in both the classroom and generally on the University campus.

“For me, coming in as a freshman, I was interested in fashion but I didn’t find an outlet for me to be able to learn about it,” said Jessica Whitman, junior in Media. “I had to use my own resources and figure it out on my own.”

Thankfully, Whitman has found a solution to this problem by creating the new RSO, The Fashion School.

The Fashion School plans to hold bi-monthly meetings, which will each focus on a different aspect of the fashion industry.

Members will be able to broaden their fashion horizons through activities such as DIY project nights, movie screenings of fashion documentaries, and visits from guest speakers involved in the fashion industry.

“Through people I’ve met through the U of I fashion community, I have different people that I could use as outlets,” Whitman said. “For example, I’m involved in IMPULSE Magazine, so if one day we’re talking about fashion publication, I could bring in the editor-in-chief of the magazine and have him speak.”

Whitman, who was a fashion intern at Vanity Fair last summer, explained that despite her experience, there’s absolutely no need for a previous knowledge of fashion in order to join The Fashion School. In fact, Mary Alex Japczyk, junior in LAS and treasurer of The Fashion School, explained that she herself hasn’t received a formal fashion education.

“I’m excited to be part of the group just to learn more about it,” Japczyk said. “I’m not someone who really knows designer names or can see a person and know what (label) they are wearing right then.”

By encouraging anyone on campus with a fashion interest to join, The Fashion School is hoping to create a well-rounded atmosphere.

“I’m really hoping it can become a club that people of all different interests will join — people who don’t necessarily know about fashion all the way to people who are complete fashion enthusiasts,” said Reigan Massey, junior in LAS.

In addition to providing a place where anyone can learn about the fashion industry, Whitman is also looking to create a sense of community among The Fashion School’s members. After Whitman became involved in many fashion-oriented opportunities on campus, she was able to gain a sense of community with the people who share the same interest in fashion as she does.

“I want people to form that through this too,” Whitman said. “I want people to get to know each other and make the campus smaller while learning things about the fashion industry and each other.”

Whitman is confident that The Fashion School will succeed because of the fashion network at the University. By spreading the word, Whitman and her team are ready to educate anyone that will lend them their ears.

The Fashion School is the place for anyone who has the slightest notion that fashion is for them, from those who assume Balenciaga is just the name of a foreign city, to those who have a shrine devoted to the late Alexander McQueen in their closet.