Instructional assistant professor Bert Marckwardt is working hard to make sure that students enrolled in his fashion courses are gaining the best experience possible this year.

In every course he teaches, Marckwardt creates assignments aimed at exposing students to diverse and underrepresented voices in fashion. Last semester, they researched historic individuals in the fashion world, designed collections based on a variety of artists, and created websites based on research conducted on different designers.

This semester, his draping and computer-aided apparel design courses meet in-person on campus, where students are busy working on projects that explore cultures and traditions around the world. These projects give them an opportunity to understand differences between cultural appreciation and appropriation. 

His courses are split up throughout the week, with half of the class attending on different days to ensure social distancing and a safe classroom environment.

“I have really tried to make sure that my students get the best experience possible this year,” he explained. “I don’t want to overwhelm them, but want them to learn just as much as they would in previous years. It’s about finding a good balance.”

Marckwardt also holds a workshop outside of class hours at the end of the week, where he introduces students to different techniques in pattern-making to help them develop new skills and push their boundaries.

The past year has been interesting for Marckwardt, not only adjusting to the new learning environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also joining CAST as a new faculty member and first-year instructor.  

“Things have been challenging, but in a good way. I looked at this year as an opportunity to adjust and learn,” he said. “Coming in, I had this idea of how I wanted to teach and distribute information to my students, but I know that the way I learned how to do certain things doesn’t always work for everyone else. It’s been a matter of really being in-tune with students and getting their feedback as often as possible to make adjustments.”

Marckwardt’s experience working in the fashion industry has helped him develop a diverse set of skills. His background includes nearly 15 years of work in the fashion industry—in places like Los Angeles, New York, and London.

He studied at the University of Texas at Austin, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Art Institute of Chicago, where he earned his master’s degree.

During his undergraduate career, he studied abroad in Prague, where he discovered his interest in becoming a teacher.

“There’s a misconception in the world of fashion that you need to attend a big-name school in order to be successful,” he said. “The education I received from my university was great, and was very similar to the program we have here at ISU. I want to pass that experience I gained along to my students.”  

Interested in learning more about fashion design at ISU? Visit the Department of Family and Consumer Science’s website for more information.