Clark Atlanta University Student Earns Scholarship for Award-Winning Fashion Industry Case Study
02/11/2021ATLANTA, (February 11, 2021) — Accessibility and body-positive acceptance are two aspects that are often overlooked in the fashion design and clothing industry. Clark Atlanta University senior Dacia Redmond hopes that her work can be a launching point to bring about change within the industry. Thanks to her insightful work, Redmond, a fashion merchandising major, has been recognized as a 2021 recipient of the Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Award presented by Women’s Wear Daily Magazine.
Redmond’s case study explores ways in which fashion brands can strengthen their marketing toward plus-sized individuals while making their products more accessible. The scholarship fund was created by designer Virgil Abloh to “foster equity and inclusion within the fashion industry by providing scholarships to students of academic promise of Black, African-American, or African descent.”
The motivation behind Redmond’s research was shaped, in part, by her own experiences working in retail at the Nike Store in her hometown of Durham, N.C. “Representation really matters,” said Redmond. “At our store, I did not see any plus-size merchandise on the floor, which is a problem. The fact is everyone is not an athlete, but everyone deserves to be able to find clothes that suit them.”
In her research, Redmond explores the ways in which clothing companies can reach overlooked groups and ultimately improve brands’ marketing strategies while making their outreach more inclusive. “This case study was second nature because it is all consumer-based,” said Redmond. “Fashion merchandising is ultimately about what consumer wants and needs are and how we can best address those needs.”
Redmond cited her academic advisor Dr. Bridgette Tei as a source of inspiration and encouragement during her research. She recalls beginning college unsure of what exactly pursuing a degree in fashion merchandising would entail. Thanks to Dr. Tei’s guidance and support, Redmond quickly learned about the opportunities that were available to her.
Redmond’s efforts also focus on creating more opportunities for Black people who are looking to make their own way in the fashion industry. “I hope that my work in the industry makes it easier for people coming after me,” Redmond said. “I want little girls and boys coming after me to look at me and say, ‘mommy, she looks like me.’”
Redmond believes that some of the obstacles for future Black fashion leaders begin within the education system itself. Redmond remembers her own disappointment when she realized how little funding there was for design and art students when she first entered college. She also believes it’s important to push back against the negative stigma on students who pursue degrees in non-traditional fields like fashion design or the arts.
The fashion industry must make greater strides to be more inclusive of independent designers, she believes. As Redmond points out, “the fashion industry should be more open to accepting smaller designers looking to break into the industry. That is how we create more diversity.” She also believes that artists and designers need to be compensated financially for their work and creativity, instead of merely being “paid” in experience.
Redmond credits her mother for the importance she places on making a way for others to follow in her footsteps. She recalls her mother getting her and her brother involved in community service opportunities from an early age. Redmond’s early experience with giving back to others has shaped her desire to elevate the work of those who will come after her.
Although Redmond’s research and work focuses on the fashion industry, her spirit of inclusion and acceptance, along with her desire to pave the way for the next generation, can be applied to almost any field.
About Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University was formed with the consolidation of Atlanta University and Clark College, both of which hold unique places in the annals of African-American history. Atlanta University, established in 1865 by the American Missionary Association, was the nation’s first institution to award graduate degrees to African-Americans. Clark College, established four years later in 1869, was the nation’s first four-year liberal arts college to serve a primarily African-American student population. Today, with nearly 4,000 students, CAU is the largest of the four institutions (CAU, Morehouse College, Spelman College and Morehouse School of Medicine) that comprise the Atlanta University Center Consortium. It is also the largest of the 37-member UNCF institutions.