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If you’re looking for the latest looks and emerging trends, there are few better places to be than Fashion Week Columbus, a flagship program from the Columbus Fashion Council that showcases up-and-coming fashion designers to media, buyers, and the central Ohio fashion community. This annual fall event highlights just why Columbus is the No. 3 fashion city in the U.S. (behind only New York and Los Angeles)—and also demonstrates that Columbus College of Art & Design is a top-tier place to study fashion.

CCAD’s Jiaqi Yu wins fashion industry scholarship

During the fashion week’s activities, designers—including several CCAD grads—showcased their work to media, fashion buyers, and central Ohio’s fashion community. And a current student, Jiaqi Yu (Fashion Design, 2023), continued the long tradition of CCAD Fashion Design students receiving a Fashion Week Columbus scholarship. (Past scholarship award winners include Maria Mendoza in 2021 and Ryder Teach in 2020). 

Fashion Design Professor and Chair Suzanne Cotton calls these types of scholarships “crucial.”

“It provides the recipients with the extra funds needed to help them focus on their studies and be able to create the collections they have been dreaming about for the past four years,” she continues. “Tommy McClure and everyone at the Columbus Fashion Council have made giving back a priority and so many of our Fashion Design students have benefited from their generosity over the years.” Indeed, the fashion council reports that it has raised more than $42,000 in scholarship funds for CCAD Fashion Design students since 2010.

Yu became involved with Fashion Week Columbus via CCAD. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to get recognition from awesome designers and those people currently working in the fashion industry,” she says. The $5,000 scholarship she received will go toward fabric and supplies for her next fashion collection, which she anticipates will be part of the 2023 CCAD Fashion Show.

“My collection is called Distant Galaxy, and is inspired by long-distance relationships,” Yu says. “I want to bring emotions and feelings into my collection, to use elements incorporated in my design to express the difficulties of long-distance relationships, and how love will tie two people in love together eventually.”

Jiaqi Yu Garment

Yu, originally from Ürümqi, in Xinjiang, China, says that at CCAD, she’s learned “that we should always keep learning from others around us, use all kinds of resources to support our learning experience, and keep creating and designing as we move forward.”

Yu is hoping to pursue a master’s degree in England next year with a goal of experiencing and exploring fashion in different parts of the world. To other students hoping to follow in her footsteps, Yu says this: “Keep learning, and working hard is never a bad idea—it will lead us to where we want to be eventually.”

CCAD alum on the Fashion Week finale runway

In addition to the scholarship for Yu, CCAD’s presence at Fashion Week Columbus included Austin Tootle (Fashion Design, 2022). In a week that included more than 30 fashion designers, more than 300 models, and more than 100 industry professionals Toote was selected to be one of eight people to be featured designers in the 13th Annual Finale Runway Show. (Another was Natalia Fedner, the Fashion Week Columbus 2022 Headline Designer and an alum of CCAD’s Saturday Morning Art Classes.)