The world’s apparel retail market is expected to grow to $1.95 billion in 2023 according to Fashion United.
But for three Cal Poly Pomona student-designers, fashion is not just about making a profit, it is a creative outlet of expression.
Isaiah Wallis is a designer in the apparel merchandising and marketing department and is considering pursuing a master’s degree in regenerative studies. The natural world inspires Wallis and sustainability is at the center of his clothing brand From Zay W/Love.
“I put as much nature into my clothing as I can, so that people will identify as a part of nature when they wear my clothes and be more inclined to protect it,” Wallis said.
Wallis’ designs are graphic reminders of the beauty of nature. Florals, camouflage and, as the name suggests, the word “love” are prevalent in his designs.
Wallis wants the clothes he designs to allow the wearer to convey emotion.
“Especially from men, that expression of love is uncommon,” Wallis said. “I want people to know it’s okay to connect and love the people around you.”
Wallis is not preoccupied with making a profit from selling clothes. Promoting sustainable practices in the industry is what keeps him coming back to fashion. With his education, he said he wants to promote and improve how clothing is manufactured and recycled.
Wallis hopes his philosophy will have an impact on the producers and consumers of fashion.
“View the Earth as an oppressed individual,” Wallis said. “Take ownership of the pollution.”
Gabe Stein does not claim to be a fashion designer. Instead, he calls himself a multimedia artist. Stein studies landscape architecture in the College of Environmental Design and makes clothes for his own pleasure.
Stein lets his creativity out through any medium that calls to him and sells his pieces under the brand name Cut It Out Decks.
“I’ve dabbled in so many things like painting and sketching,” Stein said. “Even music and some sewing work.”
For Stein, fashion is more than a hobby, it’s a passion project drawing inspiration from all around him.
“Once your goal is to make a profit, the passion starts to fade away,” Stein said. Whether it is the design of a leaf or a fire hydrant on the street, Stein said his motivation can come from anywhere but the price tag.
Through his clothing, Stein wants to spread a message of peace, love and authenticity.
“When they see my art, I want people to see it was genuinely created by me and that it came out of me organically,” he said.
Stein, who does not limit himself to one medium, believes people should not limit themselves by conforming to the expectations of others.
“I take pride in having multiple creative outlets,” Stein said. “I want my art to represent all of interests and bring to the surface the message of being yourself.”
According to Stein, deciding what to wear each day can be a form of art and an opportunity for empowerment. “I release creativity when I get dressed,” he said. When he feels presentable in his attire, there is a confidence that comes with it. He hopes his designs can give his customers that opportunity.
Nathalie Ramirez did not call herself a designer until she came to CPP. After taking design and pattern making courses in the AMM department, she now has her own brand of T-shirts and bags called In Mind.
Ramirez takes inspiration from her culture and her community.
“As a first-generation immigrant I find myself often mixing Chicano/a and paisano/a influences in my designs even my personal style,” she said.
According to Ramirez, she wants to learn beyond the design courses and is interested in learning more about how to construct garments and doing things in fashion that have yet to be done.
“I want to stray away from individualism in my production and design process,” Ramirez said. “I really want to build up communities in the future.”
Sustainability is a major aspiration for Ramirez who does not want to contribute to the pollution of fast fashion.
“I really want my brand to sell locally first to local shops and vendors and even begin learning how to make my T-shirts from scratch,” she said.
For Ramirez, profit is not the main goal. She said extra money does not hurt, but she wants to promote fair trade practices in the fashion industry after graduation.
Ramirez is inspired by anything that comes to her mind. She wants In Mind to be known for being different and not mass-produced.
“Taking the bus and walking the streets just seeing people’s everyday wear gives me so many ideas especially when you can think of ways to elevate it through a designer’s lenses,” Ramirez said.