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Indiana Fashion Foundation to host youth fashion camp at state fair

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In less than one month, participants of the Imagine IFF fashion camp will be rushing through a scavenger hunt, searching for different textures and motions in the lights, sights and displays at the Indiana State Fair. In less than 24 hours, they will use that inspiration to create an upcycled piece of clothing that will be displayed for all fair attendees to see.

Imagine IFF, the youth division of Indiana Fashion Foundation, will have its fall event, Fashion Camp at the Fair, on Aug. 7-8 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

The first day, students will listen to fashion industry experts who work in marketing, style and design, said Michelle Weston, program coordinator for Imagine IFF.

“It’s helpful to learn from people who are actually living out their dream,” Weston said. “These are the people to connect with.”

After the speakers, participants will go on a scavenger hunt for materials and inspiration. The activity will incorporate parts of the fair’s own scavenger hunt and some extra fashion elements, so they can think of ideas for their final project.

The second day, students will be taken to a to-be-disclosed location where they will find clothing items to take back to the fair booth and upcycle, or use the existing product to create a new item of higher value. The students will have the rest of the day to complete their outfits using fabric tape, scissors and help from IFF interns in the socially distanced space at the fairgrounds, Weston said.

“We want them to take already existing pieces and then add their own flair to what they have,” Weston said.

The upcycled outfits will then be displayed at IFF’s booth, the IN Fashion Marketplace at the Indiana State Fair.

The camp was originally scheduled for mid-July but was moved to August to coincide with the fair. Having the camp at the fair allows for the campers to not only grab some fair food but also experience what Indiana has to offer career-wise, Weston said. She hopes the camp both sparks the campers’ interest in pursuing a fashion career and helps them realize they can build that career without leaving Indiana.

“I really hope that they grasp the opportunities that are available to them and that they realize that it doesn’t matter where they live or where they are, there are so many connections and networks available,” she said. “You don’t have to move away if you don’t want to. You can be who you are where you are.”

IFF CEO Denisha Ferguson said while Indiana does not have a fully developed fashion market, it does have a lot of resources in areas such as technology, agriculture and sports. For those who choose to stay and develop their careers in Indiana, they can use fashion as the creative bridge between all these industries.

In addition to learning about the fashion opportunities available in Indiana, campers will also learn basic skills necessary to continue in the fashion industry and about how to be confident in their personal style. Ferguson said she loves seeing students, especially those who come into the camp a little shy, leaving with their heads held high.

“Our thing is not to try to get you to do fashion. It is to get you to know that you already are fashion,” she said. “You already have your own style.”

Zairion Lester, who participated in IFF’s 2019 Youth Designer Challenge, said he learned how to collaborate, be patient and work quickly. Lester, 17, never worked under a deadline before the youth challenge but doing so allowed him to see just how much he can accomplish in a short time frame.

“I had to think fast,” he said. “I feel like I did some good pieces.”

Children between 12 and 17 who are interested in the camp can apply at indianafashionfoundation.org. Applicants must upload samples of their work. The application closes at 11:59 p.m. July 27 and selected participants will be informed July 30.

Contact staff writer Madison Smalstig at 317-924-5143. Follow her on Twitter @madi_smals.

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