Leslee Lunden Lofton, a senior majoring in fashion design from Chicago, reveals off some of her creations as she will work towards SIU’s Scholar Showcase and Style Display on April 21. (Picture by Russell Bailey)

Leslee Lunden Lofton is earning the most of an possibility she noticed in her own closet. Motivated by her own aged garments, clothes at area thrift retailers and an hard work toward sustainability, Lofton, a senior in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s vogue design and style software, is repurposing clothing as she prepares to unveil her line at the University student Showcase and Runway Fashion Present, Thursday, April 21, in Scholar Center Ballroom D.

Upcycling, or repurposing previous objects, is a development in the style market that has become additional widespread the earlier number of many years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and issue above the Earth’s natural environment, said Lofton and Laura Kidd, an affiliate professor in the School of Architecture and system director. Lofton’s eight-garment line, labeled Again-to-the-’90s: Thrift-it Version, is impressed by sitcoms Lofton watched as a kid, including “The Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air,” “A Different World” and “Sister, Sister.”

“Leslee  is accomplishing a collection inspired by what I’ve required to see a designer do for years,” Kidd reported. “She came up with an concept and was browsing for her outfits all summer months. She was getting tops and bottoms that no person wishes.

“It’s been fantastic to look at her definitely start out imagining like a designer and imagining outdoors the box and coming up with alternatives. Leslee has put a ton of challenging perform into this.”

As Lofton, who graduated from Chicago Butler University Prep Significant Faculty, recently was tearing aside the seams on an outdated skirt that she in no way wore to transform it into a top, she spelled out the significance of sustainability and minimizing waste.

“It’s a fantastic way to assist the planet – reusing dresses to make a thing new,” she mentioned. “It commenced in the summer time, and about the summer time, I retained the very same theme. I used a good deal of time searching at the material to see what I could do with it. I’m building a best that have been shorts. I have to imagine of different and artistic methods to make some thing entirely diverse.”

The forthcoming occasion marks the second in-man or woman trend clearly show as portion of SIU’s software she will participate in. As a system necessity, Lofton’s line will element eight items, with eight styles who are named for a character from one particular of the a few sitcoms. Designers are accountable for locating their have models and get the job done with them on fittings.

“There’s a bit of strain to get everything completed,” Lofton mentioned. “It’s the course of action. I have to pace myself. But I’m at the closing part of each and every garment, so there is not a entire good deal of worry.”

Pandemic performed a part

The pandemic prompted persons to embark on much more do-it-on your own assignments.

“When you are caught in the home you discover items to do the clothing industry has picked up that.

There is an explosion of recycling,” mentioned Lofton, who returned to campus in drop 2021 for her senior 12 months following paying out most of the spring 2020 semester and all of her junior calendar year as an on the internet university student.

Kidd extra there have been conversations inside the fashion industry about lessening squander for a lengthy time, but that the pandemic speeded items up.

“People begun developing and creating apparel from what they experienced, what they could come across, or they received weary of on the lookout at two or a few clothes in their closet, so they resolved to combine them into a thing new,” Kidd stated.

“And these younger designers, a ton of them are quite thoughtful about the waste and seeking to reuse matters and sustainability.”

A critical is ‘patience’

Lofton credits her grandmother with sparking her initial interest in clothing and layout by using her to a few stitching classes though in large school. She came to SIU’s program mainly because it was inexpensive and 1 of the few Illinois educational facilities with a trend design method. SIU stays the only community university in Illinois that delivers fashion style and design as a independent specialization.

Although the effort to style and piece with each other substance into style can take a lengthy time, Lofton claimed, the critical is possessing patience.

“You have to delight in it,” Lofton stated. In the course of the pandemic, she began earning masks for family members and began providing them by means of word-of-mouth. That blossomed into her have on the net clothes organization, Lunden Leslee, which Lofton plans to develop after she graduates in Could. She wants to carry on building tailor made outfits utilizing thrift and sustainable content.

Initially runway demonstrate in 3 decades

Kidd observed that college students are enthusiastic to be able to return to an in-person function. Right after the 2020 show was canceled owing to the pandemic, Kidd, who has supervised university student designers considering that 1997, opted for photo shoots in spring 2021.

This yr, there will be reveals of student function in the Scholar Center’s J.W. Corker Lounge and Ballroom C starting at 6 p.m., which include learners from vogue merchandising, fashion styling and interior designers. The clearly show is absolutely free and open to the public.

The runway vogue clearly show commences at 7 p.m., with five very first-calendar year learners who will each individual current a structure titled, Dressed for Outcome. Those people learners, with hometowns, are:


  • Carbondale: Nicole Robinson.
  • Chicago: Aniya Vaughns.
  • Herrin: Aaron Elliot.
  • South Elgin: Lisa Vasilopolous.


Two sophisticated pupils will current manner models as component of a miniline assortment. People learners, with hometowns and line, are:


  • Carbondale: Ingrid Hansen, Gothic Girls, a line of female gothic seems influenced by Victorian fashion and gildings.
  • Elgin: Caroline Chwalisz, Sweet Pea Vintage, a useful and female line utilizing heat autumn colours inspired by 1940s women’s fashions.

The system is set to bear a title transform to trend reports commencing July 1, which Kidd said will greater replicate its offerings. It will maintain its a few specializations in vogue design and style, fashion merchandising and trend styling

For much more information on the vogue structure system, speak to Kidd at 618-453-1970 or [email protected].