Nat Della1
Nat Della and Suzanne Cotton
Della Selva's dress by Adjunct Faculty Celeste Malvar-Stewart

Columbus College of Art & Design senior Nat Della Selva (Fashion Design, 2022), has an eye for fashion—look no further than her designs for CCAD’s 2022 Fashion Show. And Della Selva is no slouch when it comes to the business end of the industry, either, recently landing a $7,500 award from the national Fashion Scholarship Fund competition.

As part of the competition, the Fashion Scholarship Fund creates a case study each year that reflects industry trends. “This gives the students a real world example as to some of the things they will be working on once they enter the industry,” says Fashion Design Professor and Chair Suzanne Cotton. “Nat is a three-time winner and we are so proud of her work.”

Through the years, the scholarship funds have opened doors for Della Selva. They’ve helped the St. Paul, Minnesota native pay off some of her student loans, pay some of the costs of her senior collection, and make her off-campus studies—study abroad in London, an internship in New York City—financially possible.

“Four years ago, when I applied and won for the first time, it was my entrance into design,” says Della Selva. “It made me learn many new skills quickly and vastly improved my confidence. This time around, it has continued to challenge me to think critically and deeply about what type of impact I want to have in the world of fashion, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.”

Cotton says the Fashion Scholarship Fund case study taps into students’ expertise—and that faculty are there to help, too, by hosting workshops and providing other support. “The most successful students also reach out to other faculty and staff on campus and get their feedback and ideas,” she says.

This year’s task for the Fashion Scholarship Fund competition was to design a collection that responded to changing consumer demands connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. Della Selva’s winning project, “Making Do,” proposed a capsule collection inspired by upcycling, vintage, and handcrafted details for the fashion brand And Other Stories. Making Do, as envisioned by Della Selva, taps into the growing consumer demands for authentic sustainable goods, as well as the craft movement, which increased in popularity during the pandemic.

The Collection

In addition to the fashion designs themselves, Della Selva’s winning case study also pushed And Other Stories to embrace sustainability in their marketing initiatives. For instance, her case study called for launching the collection with in-person and Instagram Live “making” events featuring creative influencers. Her proposed launch events included such themes as mending, natural dye using food scraps, and upcycling an existing garment through embroidery. Della Selva’s plans also called for And Other Stories to offer alterations at flagship stores or by mail.

“And Other Stories is already making strides in sustainable offerings, but consumers are asking for more,” says Della Selva. “Their customer tends to be a Gen Z-er who is skeptical of greenwashing and overzealous claims of sustainability. This is why my collection focuses heavily on the community engagement portion: encouraging consumers to ‘make do’ by mending, upcycling, or tailoring their garments, rather than only purchasing new organic goods.”

After graduation, Della Selva, who minored in Business at CCAD, plans to continue to do freelance mending and alterations, as well as start working on her own sewing pattern line. Her goal is to help people reconnect to their clothing. “I can’t think of a better way than to teach folks how to sew and give them avenues to more easily create their own garments,” she says.

Read more of Della Selva’s reflections on fashion and the Fashion Scholarship Fund below.

CCAD has had a history of success in this competition. In your opinion, what sets CCAD Fashion Design students apart?

I can’t speak to others' experience, but for me I would say, I found a lot of mentorship from professors at CCAD, and they have guided me to success.

I’m thankful to Elaine Grogan Luttrull and Suzanne Cotton for supporting me throughout this experience the past four years. I feel so honored and humbled to be a part of the winning group of students this year.

What tips would you give students interested in the Fashion Scholarship Fund competition?

Students who are interested in getting involved should attend or otherwise reach out to Suzanne Cotton to learn more. You don’t have to even be a Fashion Design major—you just have to have an interest in working in the industry.

I wouldn’t have won without reaching out and relying on the guidance of my incredible professors. I think people often feel intimidated by the research-heavy aspect of the project, but don’t let that stop you! Look at it as an opportunity for growth, and be curious. I would also say pick a topic or brand that excites you and you want to learn more about. Each year I won, I was extremely passionate about my topic and I think that really shows in the work.

It is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. The people you meet through the organization are incredible and they offer a slew of mentorship, internship, and job opportunities. I’m thankful to PACSUN and Fashion Scholarship Fund for selecting me as a scholar this year, and for supporting me in my education and future career.

What did you do in New York? What was your favorite part of that trip?

New York City was full of fun and surprise as usual! I got to see the Met costume exhibit, went to a sample sale, visited some friends, went to the Manhattan Vintage show, fabric shopping, as well as the amazing Fashion Scholarship Fund events: A industry Q&A panel at Bergdorf Goodman and store tour, Levi’s Merchandising and Marketing headquarters tour, and of course, the gala.

But my favorite part was probably a last-minute invite to my friend's dog's birthday party at a dog cafe on the Lower East Side.

Find more work by Nat Della Selva on her website or on Instagram