Fashion Education Gains a New Supporter
By Ada Onuegbe
Between the popularity of television shows like Project Runway and sartorial blogs, fashion is continuing to define itself as an art form to be taken seriously — so seriously that First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a fashion education workshop as part of the Reach Higher initiative in October of 2014.
Industry luminaries such as Tracy Reese and Anna Wintour were in attendance, providing insight in an advice panel and mentoring students during workshops. The First Lady gave a speech in which she addressed the wealth of careers in the fashion industry.
Fashion education non-profit United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) anticipates an even greater need for youth-focused fashion seminars in future years. “It is a growing, global multi-billion dollar business with many points of entry,” UCOF Vice President of Fashion Education Michael Palladino said of the fashion industry. “Given that fact, there is a need to educate young people on the different opportunities so they can make informed decisions and realize their dreams.”
UCOF is on the forefront of a movement to expand support for youth arts education beyond traditional creative vocations. The organization’s fashion education program Student Training – Arts and Design (STAND) is including an overlooked demographic in arts programming: under-resourced youth interested in fashion. STAND provides free fashion courses to students who would otherwise be unable to pursue their dream due to financial hardship.
Any involvement in fashion has long implied an income-based exclusivity. However, this stigma neglects the influence of fashion across society and its function for people of all walks of life. Palladino reiterates this sentiment. “Fashion has infiltrated every part of our lives and influences many of our decisions, from the clothes we wear to the type of car we drive, to the look of our hand held technologies.”