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NIU students pivot when it comes to fashion

April 22, 2021

Cristian Rojo has a passion for fashion and isn’t going to let the pandemic get in the way of it.

“Every spring, the Fashion Industries Organization (FIO) hosts their annual Spring Fashion Show which is sponsored by Kohls,” said Rojo, who is majoring in fashion merchandising and is president of the student-run Fashion Industries Organization. “Students are able to work with styling, decorating, and donations, and the event is also a key fundraiser for our organization.”

But with COVID-19 restrictions on indoor gatherings and social distancing in place, the FIO was forced to re-envision the longstanding event that is an NIU tradition.

“Since the students were not able to produce their annual fashion show, they wanted a creative project they could work on that involved the entire organization and to show that although the pandemic has changed much of how they work, they were able to complete a creative project,” said MaryAnn Lorenz, clinical assistant professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Mission accomplished.

The students and faculty pivoted from a live fashion show to digital fashion magazine.

“The magazine will be a collection of fashion design students and graduates from all over the Chicagoland area who were unable to showcase their collections due to the pandemic,” Lorenz said. “Our goal is to send the digital magazine to as many people as possible and to post on all of our social media platforms.”

NIU designers will be featured along with designs from students from: School of the Art Institute, Harper College, Dominican University, Iowa State University, Illinois State University and Savannah College of Art and Design.

“This is an important project because our industry has been immensely impacted by the negative effects of the pandemic,” Rojo said. “We have heard much talk about large retailers closing stores or not seeing the volume of sales they used to see prior to the pandemic.”

Rojo said young designers have been affected as well, forced to cancel their own fashion shows during the pandemic.

“Fashion shows allow these young creatives the opportunity to advertise their work and showcase their collection,” Rojo said. “This magazine is an important opportunity for our community because it gives a voice to our young designers.”

In turn, it’s an opportunity to collaborate – albeit virtually – which is an important real-world job skill.

“This allows the fashion design students a chance to showcase their work while giving our merchandising students a chance to collaborate with them and digitally display the pieces in the best way possible,” Rojo said. “It is bridging the gap between our fashion merchandising students and fashion design students from the local area.”

Fashion merchandising student, Jackie Govea, shared the sentiment.

“The magazine allows us to collaborate and use our skill sets to be creative and get out of our comfort zone,” said Govea, who is vice president of FIO. “It is also an important opportunity for outside fashion designers because they are now able to have their designs showcased.”

Govea said she’s grateful for the organization’s members and their efforts in making the magazine a success.

“I hope that our readers get inspired and can see what FIO can do even during these uncertain times,” Govea said.

Check out the 2021 Fashion Magazine.

Learn more about Fashion Merchandising at NIU.