FIG Does It Big: Helping Anteaters Express Their Own Fashion Interest

When people think of UCI, fashion does not immediately come to mind. After all, why should it? Most students don’t come here with plans to become stylists or designers. However, there are some students who plan to pursue a career in the fashion industry, no matter what major they’ll have on their diploma.

I happen to be one of those students, attending my classes as a literary journalism and art history double-major without a clue as to how they’ll be applicable to whatever undecided but definitely fashion-related career that I embark upon. Fortunately for us, UC Irvine’s Fashion Interest Group was founded in order to show UCI students that they can have a career in fashion, despite the fact that UC Irvine doesn’t offer any fashion-related curriculum.

I spoke to Fashion Interest Group’s president, fourth-year International Studies major Diana Kang, at an FIG event at Macy’s Fashion Island. In addition to serving as the FIG president, Kang is a BCBGeneration ambassador and was in charge of welcoming shoppers at a gathering at Macy’s, complete with a DJ and snacks. New and existing members of FIG mingled as we discussed the club’s recent and future activities.

On Nov 1, FIG held its first fashion shoot in UCI’s very own Aldrich Park.

Kang styled the models, Maddy Lamond, Andi Long and Kiersten Wintermute, with the assistance of Jeannie Shin, FIG’s creative director. Natalya Olbes did the models’ gorgeous makeup and Michelle Kim, FIG’s lead photographer, took the photos as the sun began to set. The scene, the park decorated with balloons and streamers, was inspired by a photo of a birthday party.

“We just did [the shoot] for fun, but it’s being used in people’s portfolios,” Kang explained. This includes Lamond’s, who was recently signed to a modeling agency. Kang also wanted to organize the fashion shoot to give FIG members the opportunity to participate in something besides the club’s annual fashion show, which takes place each spring.

“We’re trying to make members feel more like part of a group because they feel like they come together more once the show is near,” Kang explained.

Aside from preparing for the big show, Kang has many other plans in store for FIG. Kang wants to have another fashion shoot, hopefully with clothing from BCBGeneration (the BCBG label is targeted towards college students) this quarter. She encourages anyone interested in doing the models’ hair and makeup or putting the shoot together to join Fashion Interest Group’s Facebook group and attending meetings. The club will continue having guest speakers throughout the year, with the next speaker being a BCBG recruiter looking to hire students for internships with BCBG on Nov 18.

“We have a lot of talented and creative people,” Kang said. “UCI doesn’t really have a place for people to grow if they want to go into [the fashion] market … We want FIG to be a place that’s really inspirational and to let people know that it’s possible to get into the industry without having to go to fashion school.”

As a member of FIG since my first year at UCI in 2007, I have been able to further my interest in both fashion design and journalism. This year, I hope to launch a fashion blog written by members of the club. I’m balancing that position with my new role as Director of Design. While juggling both board positions will be a challenge, I’m excited to recruit any UCI students to contribute to the upcoming blog and to show their designs in the spring fashion show.

I’ve learned that FIG is a group that gives students an environment to not only showcase their skills, but also to cultivate them, whether they’re in photography, design, modeling, marketing or any other fashionable field.