Philadelphia Fashion Week experienced a stunning convergence of talent and innovation as four remarkable individuals from Thomas Jefferson University, both current students and accomplished alumni, stepped into the spotlight. The week-long festival celebrates the talents and accomplishments of Philadelphia fashion designers within the community and creates a platform for them to showcase their work. With a shared passion for fashion that transcends boundaries and pushes the envelope of creativity, three current fashion design students and one Class of 2023 alumni captivated audiences with their unique designs, impeccable craftsmanship, and a commitment to redefining the fashion landscape. The fusion of artistry and education was truly a highlight of this year’s Philadelphia Fashion Week, showcasing the profound impact that TJU’s diverse community of fashion enthusiasts is making on the industry.
Assim De Gabriel
The Next-Up Design Competition as part of Philadelphia Fashion Week pits students from local college and university Fashion Design programs against each other to create a runway look using only upcycled and thrifted materials. Assim De Gabriel used a variety of materials– including fabric scraps, buttons, zippers, plastic, wires, and damaged dresses– to create his runway look. “I wanted to use this opportunity to showcase my talent and skills as a designer by upcycling unwanted materials that could have ended up in landfills,” Assim explains. As graduation approaches, Assim is looking ward to continuing to showcase his skill and work; put himself out there; and sharing his story with the world.
“[The competition] was challenging because of the time frame to plan and construct the look, and its overlap with my schoolwork. However, it was worth it, and it taught me some discipline and how to manage my time under pressure Philly Fashion Week was also an excellent opportunity to network with people from different backgrounds.”
“The concept idea behind my Next-Up Design Competition look was being a “girl boss”,” says senior Diana Cornejo. Diana’s zero-waste look was designed as a travel look for women in business, specifically a female business owner. The look is well put-together, comfortable to wear, and practical in all aspects. The look consists of knee-sock-style boots, an adjustable skort, a cropped blazer, a reversible bucket hat, and a travel duffle bag. A sleeveless top, cotton short-sleeve shirt, nylon activewear top, cotton long sleeve sweater, canvas cargo shorts, and 1/2 yard of scrap corduroy fabric were used to create this look. “I wanted my girl to feel confident, powerful, and classy in this look,” she says.
As graduation approached, Diana is looking forward to finding more opportunities to present her work on the runway, and hopefully working with companies that share her sustainable design values.
“The whole experience was an adrenaline rush and presenting at Philly Fashion Week just made it seem that much more as if we were on a TV show like Project Runway. I loved getting the chance to present my work in front of an audience and getting to see a model walk down in my design; it makes me feel ecstatic and proud of what I am able to create and even more proud to say that it is 100% sustainable. I love opportunities like this because not only am I able to showcase my work to my peers and friends here in Philadelphia, but I also am able to livestream and showcase my accomplishments to my parents back in North Carolina and all of my family back in Mexico.”
Senior Frankie Sanchez debuted look 1 from her upcoming senior capstone collection at the Avant Garde Ball as part of Philadelphia Fashion Week. “The concept [for this collection] is my different egos, most of them coming from my ethnic background, my upbringing, and the challenges I’ve had to go through by being a queer BIPOC. This specific look is about being extra is every way,” Frankie says. The look features velour fabric, nostalgic of the Juicy Couture tracksuits of the early 2000s, and satin elements are combined to create elegance. “I found that there is a balance when it comes to such a complex look like this,” they explain. “The heavier the garment, the fewer excuses can be made, especially when working with satin.”
Frankie’s look was modeled for the event by fellow student Jason Kelly. “Working with Jason Kelly was the best thing ever because he knows how to bring life to a design. I want my clothes to give people confidence not only in their body, but also who they are as a whole, and he did just that.”
Class of 2023 Fashion Design alum Terrence Bridges showed looks from his brand TRTL Collective as part of a Philadelphia Fashion Week runway show. “This wasn’t my first show, but it was definitely my biggest show yet, Terry tells us.
The runway show, which was originally supposed to be held outside, was relocated inside of a parking garage due to rain, but the location change worked in Terry’s favor in the end– ” I think that made the whole vibe really dope and it worked out for my collection especially.” TRTL Collective works mostly with thrifted and recycled materials to create sustainability-focused fashion looks. Terry was also able to participate in “Shop the Runway”, where designers can set-up a vending table to talk about the brand and sell their pieces. “Overall, it was an amazing experience,” Terry says. “I’m so belled to be in the position to showcase my work at this level and make amazing connections!
Congratulations to Assim, Diana, Frankie, and Terrence on their amazing work!