Sustainable Fashion Initiative Features Student Designs and Kerry Washington as Panelist

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On Thursday, March 16, Marie Claire and Kering held a sustainability-themed event, Fashion Our Future, featuring an exclusively FIT pop-up exhibition showcasing the work of seven Fashion Design students from the MFA and BFA programs, as well as a panel discussion featuring FIT President Joyce F. Brown. Marie Claire and Kering launched Fashion Our Future in 2022, an initiative focusing on fashion and sustainability and featuring a diverse group of leaders in the sustainable fashion space coming together to discuss a way forward. Actor and event panelist Kerry Washington—who is on the cover of the current issue of Marie Claire—joined the students in the exhibition space and talked with each of them about their designs.

FIT’s Fashion Design students were invited to submit designs to be featured in the exhibition, and they did so by submitting images and a short description addressing how sustainability was top of mind in their creative process. A team from Marie Claire/Kering selected the winners: Yixuan Nie ’24; Lilach Porges ’23; Ziyue (Catherine) Tang ’23; Ashleen Tuteja ’24; Valeria Watson ’23; and Deborah Won ’23 from the MFA program, and BFA student Giorgio Parolini Arroyo ’25. Design categories included Natural Materials (such as Parolini’s look, dyed with hibiscus leaves and other natural pigments), Upcycling (Watson’s look, crafted from her parents’ old clothes), and Sustainable Innovation (Porges’ design, printed entirely by a robotic arm and crafted of sustainable materials including bottle caps and carbon fiber). Cathleen Sheehan, chair and professor, Fashion Design MFA , and Brooke Carlson, interim dean, School of Graduate Studies, joined the students for the event.

Dr. Brown joined Saad Amer, environmental justice expert and consultant to the United Nations, in a panel titled “Mentorship Mindset: Sustainable Fashion’s Impact on Future Generations” to discuss how guidance and education are pivotal in creating a more sustainable future.  

“I think the whole notion of mentoring is a collaboration,” Dr. Brown said. “It’s not an instruction. It’s a respectful relationship where everyone gets a little something from each other, and that concept of teamwork is what is seen in successful businesses.”

More than 75 people attended the event from a cross section of industry professionals, influencers, and students. After the panel discussions, attendees adjourned to the exhibition space to see the designs and meet the designers.

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