Supima Design Competition 2019

Supima, the marketing brand for American-grown Pima cotton, has revealed the finalists for its 12th annual Supima Design Competition, a selective contest that advocates top talent from U.S. design schools. Its runway show will be hosted the day before New York Fashion Week on Sept. 5 at Pier 59 in New York. Final collections will also be presented during Paris Fashion Week with the winning designer in attendance, the firm said.

The 2019 finalists include: Andrew Kwon, Parsons School of Design; Gina (Zinan) Guo, Drexel University; Illene Martoseno, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising; Isabel Hajian, Rhode Island School of Design; Ishwari Vijh, The Fashion Institute of Technology; Linh La, Academy of Art University; Shuxian Kong, Kent State University, and Yoohyeon Kim, Savannah College of Art and Design.

Each participating university selects one graduating senior to represent the school as a finalist to compete. A panel of judges comprised of professionals from the fashion and media world collectively select the winner; judges for the 2019 competition have yet to be announced. At the completion of the show, the winner receives a $10,000 cash prize, as well as exposure to top fashion industry executives, fashion press and influencers. Each university assigns mentors who work with their finalists throughout the design process, in addition to Supima’s design mentor, Bibhu Mohapatra, a CFDA Award-winning designer, who is working with the brand for the fifth consecutive year.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 06: Designer Lili Shi walks the runway at the 11th Annual Supima Design Competition during New York Fashion Week on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Supima)

Designer Lili Shi walks the runway at the 11th annual Supima Design Competition during New York Fashion Week. Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Supima  Getty Images for Supima

Participants are required to create five looks for each type of Supima fabric: shirting, knit, velveteen, twill and denim. Finalists must design one eveningwear look for each fabric, creating a five-look capsule collection. Finalist Ishwari Vijh, a senior at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told WWD, “Over the years, I started to recognize myself most when I was wearing my own clothes so I wanted my collection to be me but louder and bolder. What I love about fashion is that you can wake up and be in the worst mood and when you put on a colorful dress it can make you feel like the best thing on earth. I find myself repeating colors as they have the power to change your mood.” And finalist Isabel Hajian, a senior at the Rhode Island School of Design, said in regard to her aesthetic and design process, “What is important to me fundamentally is that when you are wearing a garment you feel the heft and musculature of it and can adopt that strength as your own. I try to manipulate fabrics to respond to the body — it’s about exaggerating certain areas.”

Buxton Midyette, vice president of marketing and promotions at Supima, told WWD, “It’s hard to believe the Supima Design Competition is now in its 12th year. Once again, our finalists continue to push the envelope and innovate with their collections. This year’s group of young designers are so incredibly talented and detailed-oriented. It’s amazing what they can do with our cotton. What started out as a small competition with four design schools has developed into an international showcase with eight schools and a partnership with the Hyères Festival. This format really challenges these emerging designers to be their most creative and inventive selves. What makes this competition so special is the opportunity for these gifted students to build their portfolios and differentiate themselves. We find this is key to opening doors for them to pursue their career path whether it is with a major design house or starting their own label. We can’t wait to see it all come together again this year.”

And Supima said it will continue its ongoing partnership with the Hyères Festival, a platform that promotes budding talent across fashion and photography, by supporting several finalists at the festival with fabric donations for their designs. Mohapatra told WWD, “When these young designers are ready to go out to the market to look for a creative position at any company, it is our goal that they standout, because of this extra training and knowledge that they have gained from the competition. That is the real gift of this competition.”

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