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Six schools represent future of fashion for Supima Design Competition 2021

By Jackie Mallon


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A look from Alana Tolliver of Kent State University

The Supima Design Competition returned to the runway on Thursday for the first time since Covid forced it into virtual format. Judging by the intensity of color, playful volumes and variety of textile design on display the six finalists were determined to seize the day as one of the first milestones in their burgeoning design careers.

Founded in 2008, the competition challenges students to create a capsule collection using only the company’s premium cotton for a show held during NYFW and subsequent high-profile presentation in Paris. Each year the designers work wonders pushing the boundaries of America’s favorite fabric into the realm of luxury high fashion.

Hosted by returning celebrity stylist, Law Roach, the runway event was held at 608 Fifth Avenue followed immediately by a reception.

Alana Tolliver of Kent State University

Students of Supima Design Competition make splash in NYFW runway return

Representing Kent State University Alana Tolliver’s explores her own periods of self doubt in a maximal aesthetic while questioning the perception that sustainability equates to minimalism. Her motto of “Don’t tone it down” emerges in quilted bows, tiered silhouettes and a joyful clash of plaids with abstract prints in unusual color combinations.

Yitao Li, Fashion Institute of Technology, was inspired by the idea of displacement and playing with the idea that Photoshop can deceive the viewer into thinking they can see something different than reality.

Yitao Li of Fashion Institute of Technology

Cat Pfingst from Drexel addresses the idea of impermanence and disposability in her collection influenced by her love for thrifting and her research into the effects of the wearer’s body heat on clothing. Bold black and white geometrics contour the form culminating in a sweeping quilted coat.

Hip-hop dancing, Jiarui Cai from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, brings the lifestyle and culture she knows into a streetwear collection in neon brights, with sculptural shapes and curved lines, which highlights the need to break free of society’s conditioning.

In a collection that celebrates aging, Yuki Xu Rhode Island School of Design, compares wrinkles, laxity, visible veins to phenomena in nature, in tree bark and fungus, to encourage society to cherish the passing of years through fabric treatments including laser cutting.

Bora Kim look for Supima

Entitled “The Invisible Season,” the collection from Bora Kim, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, unlocks how clothes can reveal and expose not just the body but the soul of the wearer focusing on details such as dropped waits, ballooning sleeves and scarlet bows.

Winning collection by Yuki Xu

The winner, Yuki Xu, was crowned in recognition for her unique fabric textures, earthy color palettes, and classic silhouettes. Xu receives a prize of 10,000 dollars.

Photo credit: Getty Images for Supima

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry

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