Leslee Lunden Lofton, a senior majoring in fashion structure from Chicago, displays off some of her creations as she is effective towards SIU’s Student Showcase and Style Exhibit on April 21. (Photograph by Russell Bailey)

Leslee Lunden Lofton is building the most of an option she observed in her very own closet. Encouraged by her have aged clothing, garments at local thrift stores and an effort and hard work toward sustainability, Lofton, a senior in Southern Illinois College Carbondale’s trend layout application, is repurposing apparel as she prepares to unveil her line at the Student Showcase and Runway Fashion Present, Thursday, April 21, in Pupil Centre Ballroom D.

Upcycling, or repurposing outdated objects, is a trend in the trend industry that has grow to be much more prevalent the previous couple of a long time thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and problem over the Earth’s surroundings, stated Lofton and Laura Kidd, an affiliate professor in the School of Architecture and software director. Lofton’s 8-garment line, labeled Again-to-the-’90s: Thrift-it Edition, is encouraged by sitcoms Lofton watched as a youngster, like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “A Diverse World” and “Sister, Sister.”

“Leslee  is performing a selection encouraged by what I’ve preferred to see a designer do for decades,” Kidd mentioned. “She came up with an notion and was procuring for her clothing all summer time. She was paying for tops and bottoms that no one wishes.

“It’s been wonderful to watch her seriously start considering like a designer and pondering outside the box and coming up with options. Leslee has place a good deal of difficult operate into this.”

As Lofton, who graduated from Chicago Butler Faculty Prep Superior School, a short while ago was tearing apart the seams on an old skirt that she never wore to transform it into a top rated, she spelled out the significance of sustainability and lowering waste.

“It’s a great way to help the world – reusing apparel to make one thing new,” she claimed. “It started out in the summer, and more than the summer months, I kept the very same concept. I put in a great deal of time looking at the fabric to see what I could do with it. I’m making a best that have been shorts. I have to imagine of different and imaginative ways to make one thing totally various.”

The upcoming occasion marks the second in-person fashion exhibit as aspect of SIU’s program she will take part in. As a class prerequisite, Lofton’s line will attribute eight pieces, with eight models who are named for a character from a person of the a few sitcoms. Designers are accountable for discovering their possess designs and do the job with them on fittings.

“There’s a little bit of stress to get almost everything completed,” Lofton mentioned. “It’s the course of action. I have to tempo myself. But I’m at the last element of each individual garment, so there isn’t a complete whole lot of worry.”

Pandemic performed a part

The pandemic prompted men and women to embark on more do-it-you assignments.

“When you are caught in the household you find points to do the clothes business has picked up that.

There is an explosion of recycling,” mentioned Lofton, who returned to campus in slide 2021 for her senior year right after shelling out most of the spring 2020 semester and all of her junior yr as an on the web pupil.

Kidd additional there have been discussions in just the trend sector about lowering squander for a lengthy time, but that the pandemic speeded points up.

“People begun planning and creating clothing from what they had, what they could discover, or they bought exhausted of hunting at two or 3 garments in their closet, so they determined to incorporate them into one thing new,” Kidd explained.

“And these young designers, a whole lot of them are quite considerate about the waste and attempting to reuse things and sustainability.”

A crucial is ‘patience’

Lofton credits her grandmother with sparking her preliminary interest in apparel and design by having her to a couple stitching lessons although in higher faculty. She came to SIU’s system mainly because it was affordable and a person of the couple of Illinois universities with a style design method. SIU stays the only public college in Illinois that delivers vogue design as a independent specialization.

Even though the effort to layout and piece alongside one another substance into style can choose a very long time, Lofton explained, the vital is obtaining persistence.

“You have to delight in it,” Lofton reported. In the course of the pandemic, she commenced producing masks for loved ones and commenced promoting them as a result of term-of-mouth. That blossomed into her personal on-line clothes business, Lunden Leslee, which Lofton options to broaden following she graduates in May. She would like to go on producing tailor made outfits utilizing thrift and sustainable material.

1st runway display in three several years

Kidd observed that pupils are excited to be in a position to return to an in-particular person function. Right after the 2020 demonstrate was canceled owing to the pandemic, Kidd, who has supervised scholar designers since 1997, opted for photo shoots in spring 2021.

This 12 months, there will be exhibits of college student operate in the University student Center’s J.W. Corker Lounge and Ballroom C beginning at 6 p.m., including pupils from fashion merchandising, fashion styling and inside designers. The exhibit is totally free and open to the general public.

The runway trend display begins at 7 p.m., with five 1st-year students who will just about every existing a design and style titled, Dressed for Impact. People students, with hometowns, are:


  • Carbondale: Nicole Robinson.
  • Chicago: Aniya Vaughns.
  • Herrin: Aaron Elliot.
  • South Elgin: Lisa Vasilopolous.


Two innovative pupils will existing manner types as component of a miniline selection. Those people learners, with hometowns and line, are:


  • Carbondale: Ingrid Hansen, Gothic Women, a line of female gothic appears to be like encouraged by Victorian vogue and embellishments.
  • Elgin: Caroline Chwalisz, Sweet Pea Classic, a sensible and female line making use of warm autumn colors influenced by 1940s women’s fashions.

The system is established to bear a name improve to trend scientific tests starting off July 1, which Kidd stated will greater replicate its offerings. It will keep its a few specializations in style design, manner merchandising and vogue styling

For a lot more data on the trend design and style plan, call Kidd at 618-453-1970 or [email protected].

By Amalia