Many teens dream of becoming the next Vera Wang, Betsey Johnson, or Giorgio Armani when they grow up. The Introduction to Fashion Design and Production course at Wilcox High School helps young fashion enthusiasts take the first steps in making this dream a reality.
“This class involves a lot of sewing, and it has a career preparation component,” says Cathy Rubin, a home economics teacher who oversees this class. “We have an articulation agreement with West Valley College. So if [a student who has taken this class] goes to this community college, they can get college credits at the school. We help students see where they can go after high school if they’re interested in fashion.”
In addition to learning about how to use a sewing machine, students must complete a pair of boxer shorts, a T-shirt, an A-line skirt, and a free choice project. Students also study about fibers and textiles, design principles, and clothing style terminology. They learn about different careers in fashion, the marketing of garments, and how fashion concepts get developed into tangible products.
Brianna Bryan, a sophomore who likes Betsey Johnson and Gucci, is working at a sewing machine in Rubin’s class.
“In this class, I learned how to sew, stitch, hem, press fabric, pick out patterns, and select the right fabric,” Bryan says. “I like fashion but I’m not sure if I want to go into fashion as a career. But I can always use the skills I learned here.”
Jenn Westwick, a junior who likes Betsey Johnson, is slowly pinning the hem of a pair of shorts she is making.
“This just seemed like a fun class to take,” Westwick says. “I might want to go into the fashion industry someday but I haven’t decided on it yet.”
Danielle Medeiros, a junior who likes Chanel and Oscar de la Renta, is carefully cutting a pattern for a new design.
“I want to see if I can be a fashion designer, so I took this class,” Medeiros says. “This class is more difficult than I’d expected but it’s a lot of fun.”
According to Rubin, many former students from her class have gone on to study fashion after graduating from Wilcox High School. Seven years ago, her class originally started out as a one-year class. But as the popularity of the class grew, Rubin expanded the course curriculum so students can be in the class for up to three years if they choose to.
Teresa Sanchez, a sophomore who likes Coach and Donna Karan, has been in Rubin’s class for two years. An aspiring fashion designer, Sanchez made her own dress for her recent winter formal and will be making a wedding gown for her mother’s friend.
“Sewing is an art,” Sanchez says. “My favorite part of this program is being able to make garments.”
“It’s really gratifying to see my students grow,” Rubin says. “Most of my students have never used a sewing machine before coming here. There is really a learning curve. It’s fun to see my students develop skills and confidence, and for them to see the prize they created when they complete a garment.”