ODE to Fashion 2020


Dear Students, Faculty and Friends of the SAIC Fashion Department,


This academic year has been rich in challenges at so many levels, obliging all of us to change our perspectives toward teaching, learning and being creative. What does it mean to be a designer and artist during such challenging times? This issue of Fashion 2020 embraces socially relevant facets of our current  social, political and cultural environment, along with rapidly evolving  situations at a personal and national level. Students zoom in and out with  designs  that reflect pivotal moments of their lives and the society around us. Fashion 2020 is a manifesto that stands for transparency and addresses questions surrounding citizenship, responsibility, and accountability.


As we face a global health crisis and other major worldwide changes over the past months, the expansive use of virtual teaching and online interactions has emerged as essential to nearly every facet of our lives, including education, social communication and administration.


In order to safeguard the health of our community, SAIC has taken a number of measures to ensure our wellbeing on campus and beyond. Campus closure began on March 17, when SAIC decided to close all of its buildings to nonessential operations. SAIC students completed their work through remote learning alongside their families, roommates, or in some cases, in solitude. While SAIC  instructors continued to inspire them, much of the personal interaction we had taken for granted was replaced by our internal motivations, experience and initiative. For studio classes and the Fashion Core program, our Post-bacc and master’s degree students have shown extraordinary creativity and perseverance. Since we canceled our annual runway show and senior photo shoot, the seniors documented their final collection at home and/or in nearby surroundings in isolation. Scholarship judging at all levels also happened virtually at the end of this semester.


Early during summer break, the killing of George Floyd was followed by tremendous outpouring of expression in the form of protests, marches and demonstrations to highlight social inequality faced by Black people and other people of color in many parts of the US and beyond. The SAIC Fashion Design department stands with Black Lives Matter, and has communicated extensively over the past two weeks with alums and current students of color to correct initial missteps and develop a path forward. We will continue to listen and learn from this experience and support inclusion and equality at all levels. We are committed to making the systemic changes essential for all of us to evolve. We sincerely want to do better – we know we have a lot to learn, and a lot of work ahead of us. We look forward to keeping the conversation alive. Effecting meaningful change requires a broad and interdisciplinary vision, and a multifaceted approach that enables new collaborations that can link social cause, design, art, science, industry and the marketplace.


My gratitude goes to all who have bravely spoken out against systemic bias, as well as to Fashion Council Chair Heiji Choy Black for her strong leadership, and to our Fashion Council members who have been unwavering in their support for our fashion students with Fashion Council Fellowships for many years to come.


Most sincerely,


Anke Loh