This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) at Illinois State University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. This series, CAST 50×50, is designed to highlight 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and organizations within CAST that make the college special. These notable people will tell you that every day in CAST is a great day to be a Redbird.

Fashion is not just about picking out your favorite outfit or going with the latest trends. These students from the Fashion Design and Merchandising Association (FDMA) will tell you it goes much deeper than that. #CAST50 brings you a conversation with FDMA President Josie Lakin and Alex Case and Allison O’Brien, the 2017 co-directors of the Illinois State Fashion Show.

FDMA President Josie Lakin

What are FDMA’s mission, vision, and values?

Our mission is to prepare our members to become fashion professionals. We do this by planning networking opportunities, as well as helping members create their professional portfolio. We also value creativity and friendship. FDMA is a place for students to come enjoy a fun DIY, or enjoy the presence of their peers.

What role does FDMA play within the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences?

In Family and Consumer Sciences we are different from any major. I think we bring diversity to FCS because we do something completely different from anyone else in the department, but we still incorporate things from each major into the many sides of the fashion industry. We are also an organization that is open to all students, not just fashion majors.

Josie Lakin

FDMA President Josie Lakin

Does FDMA participate in any community activities or service?

We plan service activities to try to plan an active role in the community by helping with social and environmental issues. Our service chair has so many service activities in the works, and we hope to volunteer with Home Sweet Home Ministries. Fix it Friday is a program that is new to us this year. Students set up sewing machines in various places around the Bloomington-Normal community and offer free basic sewing, mending, and clothing repair to anyone in need. We will be going to Chicago to participate in Fashion Revolution Week with the Fix it Friday crew in a couple of weeks.

If a new student is considering joining FDMA, what do they need to know?

We are very easy to fit into your schedule! We meet every other Tuesday at 7 p.m. Meeting times vary, but they never take up so much time that it’s inconvenient. We ask $15 per semester for dues from our students, which helps fund any meetings, snacks, trips, and materials we might need for meeting activities. We also have executive board positions, if you love leadership! Everyone is very welcoming, and we love new members!

What makes FDMA unique?

We don’t only focus on one specific area. While a lot of activities are geared around fashion, we focus a lot on sustainability. We also do so many different things. We have awesome opportunities to go on trips, meet new professionals, create your own portfolio, and we even throw in some DIYs. FDMA has taken trips to Nashville, Chicago, Iowa, Wisconsin, and California just to name a few. These trips are so much fun, and another huge networking opportunity.

What types of leadership positions are in FDMA?

We have an FDMA board as well as a separate executive board for the fashion show. For FDMA, we have president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, service chair, social media, and a few others.

Fashion Show Co-Directors Alex Case and Allison O’Brien

Tell us about the annual fashion show!

The annual Illinois State Fashion Show takes place every spring. This year will be the 16th annual one, and it is the largest show that we have ever put on. This year’s theme is called “Highlights.” We chose this theme because we wanted the designers to be able to create whatever they wanted. We wanted the designer’s collections to be “highlights” of their personalities and creativity.

The Fashion Design and Merchandising Association works the entire year to put together this show. Many of us who are on the Fashion Show Board, are also on the FDMA board. Student volunteers who are in our program and also FDMA help with various things throughout the show.

Alex Case and Allison O'Brien

FDMA Fashion Show co-directors Alex Case, left, and Allison O’Brien.

What is the process for putting the fashion show together?

We pretty much start planning for the show right when the previous one ends. It is a year long task and takes a whole lot of work! The show is student run, so everything is on us in the end. We organize the budget, fundraising, schedule, catering, marketing, models, designers, venues, and much, much more. The show is a huge reflection on myself and Alex’s personal aesthetic. We put a lot of our own style and creativity into the theme and the graphics that you see.

What makes the fashion show special?

The fashion show is special because it is all run by students. Illinois State students are also the designers, models, photographers, DJs, and graphic designers. We really want to make this event a school wide one, which is why we focus on having students be the main part of it. It is our way to show what we have learned in our program and collaborate with others.