From spotlighting designers to its iconic fashion shows, New York Fashion Week has a reputation for being the center of clothing design. But this year, Claremont may rival New York with the advent of the PZ Threads fashion week.
Throughout the week of Feb. 21, the club will host its annual celebration of style across the Claremont Colleges: five days of style-centered, student-celebrating events concluding with a fashion show.
PZ Threads held a virtual version of the event last spring. Each day of the fashion week, they featured a different guest speaker and a different student designer via a Zoom webinar, culminating in a digital fashion show at the end of the week. Accumulating much more student engagement than they anticipated, the club was pleased by its first fashion week, although remote, and looked forward to hosting another one next year.
PZ Threads president Natasha Gardiner-Feldman PZ ’23 said the remote format helped club leaders evaluate their plans for this year’s in-person event.
“I’m honestly grateful [the first fashion week] happened in that form,” Gardiner-Feldman said. “I learned from our mistakes in the digital version so that it could really be put together thoughtfully this year.”
While the remote version was almost entirely put on by Gardiner-Feldman and vice president Jad Gorman CM ’24, many more people are playing a role to bring this year’s event to fruition. With more club members and an overall larger production this year, the pair needed more hands on deck. PZ Threads meets every Monday night, and since the beginning of September, fashion week has been at the top of the agenda.
“Fashion week at the beginning was just dreaming, conceptualizing: What would our dream 5C fashion week look like?” Gorman said. “And then the second half of last semester was when we started to try and put [those dreams] into place.”
Collaborating with the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College and the Hive for this year’s fashion week, PZ Threads has also worked in tandem with Justine Bae Bias, the museum’s communications and engagement manager, as well as Nick Endicott PZ ’20, the Hive’s post-baccalaureate associate.
The schedule for the week has two parts, with the first half of the events focused on learning about fashion and the later ones about celebrating it.
On Monday, Feb. 21, PZ Threads members will hold a styling series detailing how attendees can sustainably style their wardrobes. On Tuesday, Julien Sanz, a designer at Sacrificed Studios, will speak on his introduction to the field, his inspiration and his work at the streetwear company. Wednesday presents a sustainable workshop series at the Hive, complete with painting and embroidery tutorials on thrifted clothes.
On Thursday, the agenda moves into the celebration-focused events with a student bazaar. Creatives on campus will have booths to sell their clothing, jewelry, art and more, and student band Josie on the Rocks will play the event.
Fashion week will culminate on Friday with a fashion show in the Benton’s courtyard. Complete with lighting, risers and music, the show will feature the work of 10 student designers — both individual designers and duos — and students will model these looks.
“It’s going to be hopefully a spectacular event,” Gorman said.
Gardiner-Feldman, who founded PZ Threads her freshman year, has looked forward to an event like this one since she arrived on campus and noticed the gap in fashion-focused programming at the 5Cs.
“I’m just excited to physically be in the space of the fashion show,” she said. “Sitting right by the stage of the fashion show, it will become all real … What I had hoped for PZ Threads before COVID even started is finally happening, and we’ve been able to go through these obstacles throughout all of COVID … I think that in itself is a very big accomplishment and something that I’m just really proud of.”
While the club and event may have started as Gardiner-Feldman’s idea, many more minds have come to share this vision. By printing magazines, hosting launch parties and chronicling student looks on their Instagram, PZ Threads has grown its reputation at the 5Cs.
The club’s social media, graphic design, blogging, videography and photography crews have already worked diligently throughout the year, and this week-long event is a testament to that work.
“Students’ time and energy have gone into making this happen,” Sabina Eastman PZ ’23 said via email. “I’m still so inspired that everyone has put so much work to make it such a big and impressive event.”
Eastman, who serves as the club’s social media director and liaison to the Benton, is another person who has devoted considerable effort to the cause. Working on this event has also exposed her to the wide variety of talent and vision across the campuses.
“Before getting involved with fashion week, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the arts scene on our campuses, and I can genuinely say that I was so shocked and impressed by the designers in the show,” Eastman said via email. “I had no idea so many people were not only capable of creating clothing but executing entire lines of unique designs.”
Seeking to spotlight these student designers who may not be able to show their work otherwise, PZ Threads’ fashion week celebrates them as much as it does sustainable fashion.
Gardiner-Feldman explains that aside from sustainable fashion, the event is really about bringing community.
“Fashion Week is for everyone, not just students and individuals who are interested in fashion,” she said. “Fashion Week is just a celebration of the arts … It’s a space and an environment on campus to bring the community together, and it’s really just an avenue for that. And so even if you’re not a lover of fashion, we hope to see you there.”