Looks from Lili Shi's eveningwear capsule at the Supima show.

The 2018 winner of the 11th annual Supima Design Competition is Lili Shi, who graduated this past June from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Shi, along with six other finalists, gave attendees at Supima’s spring 2019 runway show Thursday a taste of the future of American fashion. Each finalist, a 2018 graduating senior at their respective design school, was asked to present a capsule collection of five women’s wear evening looks that highlighted the unique characteristics of Supima cotton. Supima is the marketing brand for American-grown Pima cotton. The finalists were judged on originality and execution on how they rethought familiar fabric conventions that include fabrications used in high-end shirting, fine jersey knits and sturdy denims.

Shi said in her acceptance speech, “I want to thank the Supima team and FIT for giving me this great opportunity.”

She told WWD, “I just graduated so this is a great start for my career. 24Seven is setting us up with job interviews.”

Shi noted that she has a fine arts background and was a painter before switching to fashion design. “I love fashion design, and in this collection I was able to combine both. Each piece should be an original, and this [collection] was a way for me to express myself,” she said.

As the winner of the Supima contest, Shi received a $10,000 cash prize. All the finalists will have their capsules presented during Paris Fashion Week.

Buxton Midyette, vice president of marketing and promotions at Supima, said after the show that the one trend he saw this year among the competitors was their “manipulation of fabric, such as cutting strips to rework them into the designs, to create different textures.”

CFDA Award-winning designer Bibhu Mohapatra returned as a mentor for the fourth consecutive year. He said: “I think [Supima] is just an amazing platform for the future of our industry.…Every year we raise the bar on the quality of the students who are selected as finalists.”

Supima partners with America’s leading design schools. Every year, each participating university selects one graduating senior to represent the school as a finalist for the competition. The finalists receive mentoring from an industry executive. This year’s program includes a partnership with talent recruitment firm 24Seven to market the finalists’ portfolios to fashion houses across North America and Europe.

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