“I wouldn’t be a fashion designer had I not gone to St. Kate’s,” said Jenny Carle ‘08. “Both the program and the University were a great fit. They’re big on sustainability, which is really important to me.”
St. Catherine University ensures students are prepared to thrive in whatever future they choose to forge for themselves. Katies are exposed to experiences—academically, socially and professionally—that transcend the traditional learning environment, and prompt them to find their own way off the beaten path. For Carle, finding a school and program that fit her meant she was able to choose a degree that allowed her to commit to a career.
St. Kate’s students endeavor to create a more fair and balanced world that tackles some of society’s greatest needs. The apparel design and fashion merchandising programs, for example, teach students how to create eco-friendly fashion and carry out ethical manufacturing and business administration. Upcycling, sustainable design, local sourcing, workers’ rights, and fair trade are frequent discussion topics in the classroom; emphasis is placed on designing sustainable and socially responsible clothes that fit on real bodies.
Each spring, juniors and seniors in the apparel design and fashion merchandising programs produce Katwalk—a fashion show recognized throughout Twin Cities fashion circles as an event to spot rising stars. Featuring one-of-a-kind garments and a segment on sustainable fashion, it is coordinated entirely by students so they may provide hands-on professional experience. From planning to marketing, design to staging, it’s an opportunity for them to showcase everything they’ve learned throughout their studies. In 2015, Katwalk even featured the first Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified collection to ever hit a runway in the U.S.
Faculty and staff also foster and maintain relationships within the larger community to ensure students are exposed to all aspects of the industry. Recently, a partnership between the apparel design program, St. Kate’s Center for Community Work and Learning, other local universities, local youth and the Pillsbury United Communities’ Sisterhood Boutique—a boutique in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis designed and run by East African women ages 14 to 23 that sells gently-used clothing, shoes and accessories—produced a fashion show spotlighting the talents of young entrepreneurs. As part of the collaboration, St. Kate’s students designed and styled looks highlighting used clothing to demonstrate an environmentally friendly alternative to buying new.
Other projects have included making adaptive clothing for elderly and special-needs adults, collaborating with the engineering department of another university to conduct a “Life Cycle Analysis for Sustainable Product Development” and partnering with Goodwill Easter Seals of Minnesota to incorporate sustainability projects that are mutually beneficial for student learning and community engagement.
“Sustainability is a major challenge faced by modern society,” said Anupama Pasricha, associate professor and chair of the Department of Apparel, Merchandising and Design. “If we don’t change the way we do things, we will not be able to provide a healthy, livable planet for future generations.”
In an increasingly eco-conscious society, we all need to be prepared to adapt practices, reach across boundaries and reinvent entire industries. After graduation, students go on to work as designers at major labels, buyers for corporations, production and technical managers, costume designers, personal stylists, retail managers, fashion business analysts and more—and they take with them the understanding that actions affect the environment and everything in it.
St. Kate’s prepares graduates to enter the workforce ready to make their voices heard and contribute to a better world. Teaching students to design clothing that flatters a variety of shapes and sizes while reducing environmental impact and fostering fair and responsible business practices is just one way. To learn more about St. Catherine University, visit www.stkate.edu.