Switching up the runway: Child designs make a return to the ISU Fashion Show 2014


Tiffany Herring/Iowa State Daily

Senior Emma Garner tests out a hair accessory from her children’s line on her model Mallory on March 24. Garner is one of two people submitting a chidlren’s line for the Fashion Show on April 5. 

Tedi Mathis

Last year, a little girl at the Fashion Show won the hearts of the audience by blowing a kiss to the crowd during her strut down the runway. Emma Garner is happy to say that was her model.

“They’re kind of crazy, but that makes everything more fun, it kind of amps up the energy on the runway,” said Garner, senior in apparel, merchandising and design, on working with child models.

Garner is one of two seniors submitting lines to the fashion show designed around children’s wear and said her passion started early on with her work at Limited Too. She made her first children’s piece in a digital printing class and “just fell in love with it.”

Garner’s line for the show, called Shine Bright, mixes maturity with childhood using of floral prints, neon and embellishments.

“I wanted to do something kind of grown up for younger girls,” Garner explained. “So something that you would want to wear or you would want to dress your child in, so it’s very mature but it’s at the same time fun, sparkly, a lot going on.”

This is not the line Garner originally designed. After a semester of work towards her first children’s line for the show, Garner scrapped her line to better follow her vision.

“I made a lot of big changes where as most designers probably just made small modifications,” Garner said. “I wouldn’t recommend it to future designers but I had a vision and I wanted to make it right, so I just went with it.”

Between submitting a line and serving as a design director for the show, Garner said she spends an average of five to ten hours a week working, though some of the busiest weeks can hit 20 to 25 hours.

Beyond children’s wear, Garner has focused her studies on technical design to satisfy her detail-oriented personality, but says the two are not an easy mix.

“Technical design is kind of just a little bit more limiting for children’s wear, there are so many regulations and safety issues that go into children’s wear,” Garner said.

While Garner focuses on the details, Shelby Schmidt, junior in apparel, merchandising and design, brought her wearable art to life.

Schmidt submitted a dress with a Disney theme and unusual materials called Little Miss Mermaid. “I was given for this garment a cluster of random items found at Lowes or Home Depot that our teacher brought in and she said just make something,” Schmidt said.

“I am really, really inspired by Disney and just sort of the ‘under the sea’ vibe I was getting with the colors I was given and I was like well why not start doing children’s wear here because that’s my passion, it’s what I want to do with my life.”

Schmidt’s passion for the fashion show sprung from her first experience as a senior in high school attending the Behind the Curtain day for high school seniors. She won a contest put on by the Iowa State Daily by turning newspaper into a wearable item.

“That really sort of sparked my interest, really set in stone that I wanted to major in apparel and come here and be able to participate in [the Fashion Show] down the road,” Schmidt said.

Beyond her work at Iowa State, Schmidt has grown her passion in children’s wear into her line LoveBug. She creates fashionable cloth diapers with the idea that they can be worn by toddlers in place of pants on a hot summer day.

Schmidt said the market for cloth diapers is on the rise, allowing moms to save money by washing and reusing the diapers. Her designs use a soft, absorbent fabric on the inside and waterproof fabric on the outside to stop leaks and add comfort.

“Cloth diapering is really hitting its peak right now with moms who are wanting to be more environmentally friendly, moms who do just want more fashion for their toddlers,” Schmidt said.

During her senior year, she hopes to submit a children’s wear line to the Fashion Show and plans to grow LoveBug this summer by selling through an Etsy store with the help of her grandma, who inspired her interest in apparel design.

Both Garner and Schmidt said working with children is fun but also more of a challenge.

“A lot of people would probably assume that it takes less work because the clothes are smaller,” Garner said. “A lot more goes into it than meets the eye.”

For Schmidt, it’s the challenge of working with children that excites and motivates her. “I think with kids it’s just so much more fun because there is that sort of sense of the unknown with the not necessarily trying it on or actually getting it to fit until the night before the show,” Schmidt said.

“So if there is any interest in doing that, I would say go for it. Why not, you’re in college, why not try.”

Both Garner’s line and Schmidt’s pieces were admitted into the show.