High school students discover sustainable fashion

· 2 min read

High school students discover sustainable fashion

Participants make stenciled fabric designs.
Surin Kim | Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design
Big Red Summer Academic Camp participants create fabric designs using stencils.

A recent summer camp at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln offered youth the opportunity to explore careers in the apparel industry and ways to create sustainable fashion.

The Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design hosted seven high school students June 13-18, as part of Big Red Summer Academic Camps through Nebraska 4-H.

Big Red Summer Academic Camps are residential, career exploration camps held annually at the university. This was the first year the Discover Sustainable Fashion session was offered. In addition to Nebraska, campers came from Colorado, Michigan and Kansas. The session was led by Surin Kim, assistant professor and extension specialist, and Sandra Starkey, assistant professor, who were joined by various faculty and graduate students of the department.

Students learned about the environmental impact of fashion and explored ways to create sustainable fashion during various faculty-sponsored workshops, such as sustainable fashion and entrepreneurship, rapid prototyping, quilt making, block printing, garment upcycling and visual merchandising. A uniuqe hands-on experience involved turning trash to treasure, where camp participants created full-size garments out of fabric scraps.

Sandra Starkey (center) leads a session during the Big Red Summer Academic Camp, "Discover Sustainable Fashion."
Surin Kim | Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design
Sandra Starkey (center) leads a session during the Big Red Summer Academic Camp, "Discover Sustainable Fashion."

“I learned about sustainability in the fashion industry and how to create a garment sustainably with sewing and other techniques I learned, which will be useful for my career,” Natalie Schmidt, a camp participant, said. “I also made new friends.”

Camp participants also visited local sustainable fashion businesses managed by alumni, met with the current university students, and got a behind-the-scenes tour of the International Quilt Museum.

“It was really great seeing a business with upcycled clothing that is run by a graduate here, so I could see myself doing such a thing after the college,” Polly Michaud, a participant, said.

After spending fun-filled days on- and off-campus, at the end of the camp, participants’ families were invited to the special capstone event in the department, where campers showcased all their projects made during the week.

Learn more about Big Red Summer Academic Camps here.

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