By  on August 25, 2014

NEW YORK — The Supima Design Competition has gone national.

The seventh edition of the annual event has added two California schools to its roster, as it refines the program that offers scholarships, mentoring and runway exposure to fashion design students.

Finalists from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles will join one graduating finalist from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Ohio’s Kent State University, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Savannah College of Art and Design for a runway presentation on Sept. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Pavilion at Lincoln Center, where a winner will be crowned.

Buxton Midyette, vice president of marketing for Supima, which designates an elite variety of pima cotton grown only in California and the Southwestern U.S., said by adding the California schools, the competition broadens its scope and has also shifted to choosing just one finalist instead of two from each institution. Midyette said this allows mentors at the schools to give more attention to each student and refines the show, as well.

“It’s also interesting and somewhat noteworthy that the majority of Supima cotton is grown in central California between Los Angeles and San Francisco,” he said.

For the competition, each finalist was asked to create a capsule collection of women’s eveningwear from premium Supima denims, knits, corduroys, twills and shirting provided by sponsors that include Brooks Brothers, AG denim and newly added Italian mill Carlo Bonomi.

This year’s six finalists are Jenny Hoang from Academy of Art University, David Lee from FIDM, Ou Ma from FIT, Anastasia Iafrate from Kent State, Sharon Moon from RISD and Yuxi Bi from SCAD. The winner will be revealed at the completion of the show and receive an award of $10,000.

Iafrate, who earned her bachelor of arts in Fashion Design from Kent State, pays homage to her home country, Russia, in her collection, called “White Nights of St. Petersburg.” It’s inspired by the beauty of the city and the Arctic Circle twilight that is a phenomenon there. Iafrate, who hopes to have her own line, said it was a challenge to create eveningwear from what is usually a casual fabric.

Lee, who received an associate of arts degree from FIDM, capitalized on his talent for precise illustrations to create a collection of abstract floral prints, making certain the characteristics of the Supima fabric fit his designs. Lee hopes to find a job in the industry that interweaves his passion for illustration.

Hoang, who hails from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from the Academy of Art University. Hoang likes to focus on women’s wear and denim, and was inspired by “transformation” to create something unexpected out of cotton. A fan of Giorgio Armani, Hoang hopes to one day be a designer for the likes of the Italian fashion house.

Ma, who is from Beijing, earned a B.F.A. degree from FIT. She has concentrated on fine knitwear in her studies and was inspired by the performance-oriented swatches she received.

Originally from Seoul, Moon received her B.F.A. at RISD. Specializing in women’s ready-to-wear, her collection revolves around decaying flowers. Moon used laser cutting to portray a modern interpretation of a traditional flower, and found the strong Supima fiber worked well in that medium. Hoping to eventually start her own line, Moon is prepared to start from the bottom at a women’s wear label.

Bi, originally from China, received her B.F.A. from SCAD. Already focused on eveningwear, Bi created a romance-themed collection using the elegance and texture of Supima cotton. Bi looks forward to an apprenticeship at a design house and one day hopes to establish her own line.

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