Threadfair: Rocking the Runway

Wrenny Collamer, Staffer

Threadfair is a student-run fashion show that has the goal of giving high-school students a unique community and creative outlet. This year, the show has made changes, like a larger venue, while also seeing a growth in participation.

LASA senior Reese Johnson, who participated in the show as a freshman and served on the management team as a sophomore, is now the director of Threadfair Fashion Show. She says that Threadfair offers a distinct space for like-minded students to express themselves.

“The reason that I’ve continuously done Threadfair year after year is because it’s such a good outlet for showcasing high school students’ talent and creativity,” Johnson said. “Threadfair gives a chance to combine a bunch of schools, so you get to meet new people and you get to showcase your talent in a way that you might not have been able to otherwise.”

Johnson said the show is always looking to adapt. She said she was excited about Threadfair’s ability to grow financially this year, allowing the program to further expand in upcoming years.

“The goal is always more participants, more guests and then a bigger space,” Johnson said. “Our venue is much bigger than years previous. We’ve secured a venue already and I’m excited because it’s downtown and it’s a big warehouse space, so we are going to have a lot of room to fit more people. We are also going to have food available for free at the show, which has never happened in years past.”

Elle Stein, a junior at Anderson High School, was head of marketing and fundraising for last year’s show and is now the junior director of Threadfair. According to Stein, a venue has the power to make or break a show, and she was excited about the improved location.

“Our location is basically the best location I believe that we have ever had,” Stein said. “It’s right downtown and it’s in a huge building that is gorgeous.”

LASA senior Jolin Pan is the head model for Threadfair and was on the management team last year. She said she remains focused on organization this year. According to Pan, organizational issues interfered with the success of the designers and models last year.

“Our meetings last year were held at Whole Foods, and we couldn’t find tables,” Pan said. “It was just things like that. It was very poorly organized and communication was poor. We had our practices in different spots every time and people wouldn’t know where to go. It’s improved a lot since last year.”

Stein said that organization has improved this year. The practices have gotten off to a great start and that the management team is already finding success in fundraising and planning for show day, according to Stein.

“Our practices have been very successful in that it’s in a big room and a lot of people have been showing up to every single one,” Stein said. “Our fundraising is going well so far. Personally, what I know on the side of my job is that we have gotten judges from Athleta and Kendra Scott. I’m very excited to have judges that have real influence in the fashion world.”

According to Stein, practices remain a core part of ensuring a smooth design process. Practices give designers a chance to get to know their models and flesh out ideas for their designs.

“I think it’s really essential to get the measurements of your models, which everyone has been very successful in getting,” Stein said. “It’s been really cool to see people bring their pieces to the practices and actually have their models try them on and practice walking in them. It’s very cool to watch.” 

LASA sophomore Alex Aguilar will be participating in Threadfair for the first time this year. She started designing clothes a year ago in LASA’s Fashion Design class. According to Aguilar, learning from LASA art teachers Jessica Fisher and Elizabeth Hewitt has helped her find success in designing clothes for models in Threadfair.

“Ms. Fisher and Ms. Hewitt definitely helped me with craftsmanship, creativity and thinking outside of the box and not making designs that are too easy to makereally challenging myself to make something that I’ve never done before,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar, along with other designers, brings a sewing machine to the practices and utilizes the time to work on her designs. She is working on designs for three models.

“I made a leopard print dress and I decided to add netting at the bottom to give it a layered look,” Aguilar said. “I wanted to use animal print, but make it something more than that by adding futuristic elements.”

According to Pan, for models, practices present an opportunity to become familiar with the skill of runway walking that many students were initially strangers to. The practices also give models time to become comfortable in their own skin and grow to be more expressive and experimental with their walks and poses.

“Some people started off the first practice really nervous, but they have gotten more comfortable,” Pan said. “That’s the whole goal of having so many practices. I hope it gets really old to the models to the point where they feel comfortable enough to just be themselves.”

According to Pan, her past experience modeling for Threadfair allows her to empathize with what the models are experiencing. She said she realizes that modeling can be a vulnerable and daunting experience.

“I think having modeled in the show in the past, coming into this I understood how weird everything felt,” Pan said. “It feels like ‘I’ve never done this before and I don’t want to pretend I’ve been a runway model. Am I posing weird? Is my body looking weird?’ That has really helped me to communicate with the models that I get it and what they are feeling is OK.”

Pan said male models, in particular, could be especially susceptible to feeling apprehensive. She said that she has noticed that modeling can be particularly uncomfortable for boys who are new to the stereotypically female role of modeling.

“Some guys, they never thought of doing this, so they get really red every time they walk or they are super nervous or they don’t know what to do,” Pan said. “They don’t want to look ahead or at anybody. I think it’s really hard because nobody has ever really done this before.”

Another component of Threadfair is its support for the non-profit Dress For Success Austin. Dress For Success has the goal of empowering women to find success in work and in life by providing the necessary clothes to do so. Threadfair uses money raised from ticket sales and a silent auction to support the nonprofit. Pan says that the cause that Threadfair is able to support through Dress For Success is a great reason to be a part of the show.

“I think it’s a really good thing to be a part of,” Pan said. “We donate a lot of the ticket sales money to Dress For Success. They support women in the workforce with clothes because not everyone can afford them. Companies require business casual clothes and they are expensive. So, it’s a good cause.”

As for the show, Pan said that viewers can expect a display of young creativity along with designer-selected music and a silent auction. Pan said having no rules about the type of clothes or collections is appealing to the audience and designers. 

“These are high school kids, and it’s cool to see what they can do even if they are beginners,” Pan said. “Maybe some of these kids are going to go out in life and become real designers or real models. You never know.”

The show is on Sunday, April 5th at 800 Congress Ave.