Winners’ Designs Wow in Cotton Inc. Design Challenge

May 6th, 2014 by Amanda Pierce
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Winners Sarah Wong and Ashleigh Jones with Suzanne Cotton and the jury.  Photo: Karl Allsop

Winners Sarah Wong and Ashleigh Jones with Suzanne Cotton and the jury.
Photo: Karl Allsop

The semester-long Denim Directions challenge came to a close Saturday with the opening of an exhibition of the finalists’ work and the announcement of the challenge winners. Senior Sarah Wong took home first place, and senior Ashleigh Jones was named first runner-up.

The winners were chosen from a group of 10 finalists by a panel of industry professionals that included Gretchen Gerdsen and Fashion Design alumna Susana Madrid (CCAD 2010) from Abercrombie & Fitch and Lori Berzow from Express. The two will receive scholarships and have their work featured in SHOW: The 135th Annual Student Exhibition, opening May 9.

The challenge, sponsored by a $15,000 grant from Cotton Inc., prompted Fashion Design juniors and seniors students to rethink common uses of denim and design a full outfit to demonstrate surface design techniques. Students attended hands-on workshops taught by adjunct faculty Ryan Richmond (CCAD 2011) and Irina Grebennik-Babcock (CCAD 2002) and took online classes offered by Cotton Inc.

“I’m so impressed with everything that everyone has done,” said Fashion Design Chair Suzanne Cotton. “Choosing two winners was a hard decision.”

Leading up to the May 3 event, finalists traveled to Cotton Inc. headquarters in Cary, NC, to observe manufacturing techniques,┬ámeet with company representatives, and learn about the company’s 74-year history.

“The North Carolina trip was so much fun and really rewarding,” Wong said. “We saw all the machinery they use to turn cotton into fabric and also learned new denim techniques, like how to make it water repellant.”

Sarah Wong's winning design  Photo: Amanda Pierce

Sarah Wong’s winning design
Photo: Amanda Pierce

As soon as the group returned to Columbus, they got to work constructing their final garments.

Wong designed a dark denim jumpsuit that she said pushed her out of her comfort zone. She used laser cutting techniques on the sleeveless top and applied a subtle silk-screen print to the cuffed pants.

“I leaned a lot about denim throughout this whole process,” she said.

Jones, who designed a textured vest, chambray sweatshirt, and denim jogging pants, said the semester-long challenge allowed designers to exercise full creative freedom.

“This challenge allowed us to truly design one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect our own styles,” she said. “With the only requirement being that the garment was 95 percent denim, we had room for out-of-the-box designs. I am very proud of all the work we have each done.”

The 10 finalists’ designs will be on display in the Byers Gallery of CCAD’s Design Studios on Broad through May 8. Wong’s and Jones’ designs will be part of SHOW: The 135th Annual Student Exhibition through June 27 in the Canzani Center Gallery.

The 10 finalists were Fashion Design seniors Ryun Harrison from Alpharetta, GA (Alpharetta High School), Ashleigh Jones from Westerville, OH (Central High School), Katsiaryna Khadzko from Shawnee, OH (Miller High School), Seth Stephens from Pickerington, OH (Pickerington High School North), Maggie Tanner from West Jefferson, OH (West Jefferson High School), Bryston Walters from Westerville, OH (Big Walnut High School), and Sarah Wong from Cincinnati, OH (Colerain High School); and Fashion Design juniors Derek Fergusson from Wadsworth, OH (Wadsworth Senior High School), May Sleiman from Blacklick, OH, and Cleopatra Slough from Lawrence, KS (Lawrence Free State High School).

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