UW-Madison students get creative with upcoming fashion show

UW-Madison’s aspiring fashion designers are far from fashion industry epicenters like New York City and Paris, but they are, nevertheless, undeterred.

On Thursday, 16 of them will showcase their handiwork during a fashion show organized by The Issue, a UW-Madison student-run magazine and organization with a focus on fashion, arts, culture and current events, along with the School of Human Ecology.

“We’re really giving all these designers a platform to showcase their work beyond just kind of the inner circle that they’ve been working with throughout all their years,” said Sidney Peterson, events director for The Issue.

UW fashion show

UW-Madison student Matthew Lyga gets the measurements of Amy Laudi, 20, for the student designer fashion show, which will be held Thursday at Nancy Nicholas Hall. While the 16 designers did most of the work for their collections themselves, Lyga said he has relied on others for feedback. “My favorite thing to ask is, ‘Hey, can I borrow your eyes?'”

One of the biggest hurdles for these aspiring fashion designers is a lack of resources: The only fabric store easily accessible through public transit is Joann Fabric, according to Matthew Lyga, a UW-Madison textile and fashion design major whose collection will be part of the show. 

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“It’s honestly such a nightmare living somewhere like Madison,” Lyga said. “The closest fabric hub we have is in Chicago,” and even there he finds minimal selection.

“It’s frustrating when you have a vision, but you don’t have the materials to make it come to life,” said Olive Bote, a UW-Madison textile and fashion design major. “I try to avoid using Amazon, but it’s hard because sometimes you just really want one thing for a piece.”

While the pieces shown on Thursday will not be for sale, the event will be a chance for UW-Madison student designers to demonstrate their eye for fashion and bring awareness to their brands. 

Not growing up surrounded by a big fashion industry, Peterson said, creates more driven individuals with a great love for design. 

“You have to have, like, a special kind of passion for fashion in order to be in the Midwest and still go to school for it,” she said. “There’s like, a deep-rooted interest, and that really shows.” 

Bote’s collection being displayed Thursday, titled “Indecent,” centers around self-expression, something that has always been the cornerstone of fashion for Bote.  

“I’m really inspired by the idea of indulgence and diving into the things you love,” Bote said. “The collection is based around queerness, it’s all about expression and repression.”

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Because textile and fashion design is a major offered through the School of Human Ecology, the focus of the major is to create more than just beautiful work said Robyn George, executive director of The Issue.

George said student designers at the university focus on making their designs attractive but also functional, and there’s a great emphasis on sustainability. 

“When looking at UW designers, you can really count on being able to look to the future of fashion and not just like, what’s profitable today,” George said.

But because UW-Madison “has a very strong STEM focus,” said Bote, they often feel that other students don’t really get the work that goes into their courses. 

UW fashion show

Lyga watches Michaela Hamilton, 18, model his design and said he’s looking forward to being able to show his hard work. “It’s like, see, I don’t just look at pretty clothes all day,” he said. “This is where my talent is.”

“People don’t get that, like, I’ll have just spent eight hours in the studio working for class,” said Bote, which can be frustrating and make it difficult to connect with students outside of their major. 

Lyga said he is excited about the opportunity to present his fashion for that reason. 

“It’s like, see, I don’t just look at pretty clothes all day,” Lyga said. “This is where my talent is.”

UW fashion show

UW-Madison student Matthew Lyga gets the measurements of Amy Laudi, 20, in preparation for the student designer fashion show.

UW fashion show

UW-Madison student Matthew Lyga fits the top to Michaela Hamilton, 18.

UW fashion show

Lyga works with model Amy Laudi, 20, as they prepare for the student designer fashion show.

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