7th Grade – Fashion Design

7th Grade – Fashion Design

Description of the Unit – Students will create their own fashion line, featuring at least three different looks that share a unifying theme, be it color, pattern, line or particular article of clothing or accessory.

Photo of a catwalk for men's fashion
Students will attempt to create a fashion line of at least three pieces unified by a theme of some kind

Activity statement – Fashion gives one the opportunity to express oneself via clothing. For some fashion can represent one’s uniqueness, and many people enjoy cultivating a look or style that is all their own. Fashion can be inaccessible to the masses, as in high fashion, or accessible, as in everyday wear.

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 26:  A model walks the runway during the Agatha Ruiz De La Prada fashion show at Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2009 on September 26, 2008 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
Students can get as wild and creative as they wish

The environmental and social costs of fashion – While exploring the world of fashion in this unit, I also like to invite students to think more deeply about the role of fashion in the world, both the good, such as the artistic expression it can engender, and the bad, such as the human cost of manufacturing some fashion lines, or its often steep environmental cost (see questions below).

The Rana Plaza Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh killed over 1,100 people in 2013. Workers said that they told factory bosses that the building was unstable the day before, but were still forced to go to work the next day.
The Rana Plaza Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh killed over 1,100 people in 2013. Workers said that they told factory bosses that the building was unstable the day before, but were still forced to go to work the next day. Source: https://ideasforus.org/is-fashion-killing-the-planet-and-its-people/

In addition to thinking about fashion’s role in our world, students explore artistic concepts inherent in fashion, such as use of color, line, pattern and shape. We look at a variety of fashion lines represented at fashion shows, as well as peruse some of Scott Schuman’s brilliant fashion photography from his blog the Sartorialist, discussing the ways in which the sky is the limit when it comes to personal fashion (well, and one’s pocketbook, alas—unless one is original and creative with thrift store finds, as many people I know are).  

Two images from Scott Schuma's fun fashion blog the Sartorialist
Images © Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist

Goals – Students should…

Understand:

  • How clothes can be used to communicate in artistic and personal ways
  • Ways in which a series of different looks can be unified into one theme

Know:

  • How to create characteristic looks or styles

Be able to:

  • Identify use of color, patter, print, line, etc. in fashion
  • Identify some of the positive and negative effects of the modern fashion industry on today’s world

Objectives – Students will develop their own fashion line with a minimum of three looks. Each student’s line must have at least one unifying characteristic, such as a color palette, a pattern or print, a theme, or a unique article of clothing or an accessory that appears on each look. Students may add the extra challenge of drawing the figures themselves rather than using fashion templates, but I don’t push it, as I really want them to have fun with the concepts and designs, and not get too hung up on drawing the perfect body. I encourage them to come up with a name for their fashion line.

Some variations can include having the students create fashion using handmade or fancy paper and collage it onto a body.

Resources and materials –

  • Exemplars of high fashion and daily fashion, men and women’s
  • White drawing paper, about 8.5 x 11
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Black Sharpie (or drawing) pens in various sizes
  • Colored pencils
  • Multicolored markers
  • Watercolors (optional)
  • Figure templates (optional)

Questions –

  • What is fashion?
  • In your opinion, what makes certain clothes attractive and others unattractive?
  • What do you think is the difference between high fashion and everyday wear?
  • What themes unify this look (while observing examples of fashion lines)?
  • What is your style? What colors are you attracted to? What articles of clothing do you enjoy wearing?
  • What are some of the environmental impacts of fashion? (Explored in group conversation discussing wastewater, CO2 emissions, high use of water, greenhouse gas production, to name a few.)
  • What are some of the societal costs of fashion? (Explored in group conversation discussing child labor, workers earning very little pay with no rights, hazardous working conditions and use of toxic substances are a few examples.)
  • If you owned a fashion line, what could you do to ensure responsible and sustainable production of your clothing?

Evaluation – Did students:

  • Create a fashion line with a unifying theme?
  • Make each look distinct?
  • Express the use of at least one of the following: line, color, pattern, print?

Informal:

  • Group discussions
  • Oral and written responses to essential questions
  • Peer collaboration
three images of a unified "look" for one 7th grade student's fashion line
7th grade art – This student dubbed her fashion line “Trash Fash”
twoimages of a unified "look" for one 7th grade student's fashion line
7th grade art – This student designed party dresses, with her favorite being below…
a party dress designed by a 7th grade student
7th grade art -part of the same line of party dresses as above, this being the student’s favorite
three images of a unified "look" for one 7th grade student's fashion line, inspired by fairy tales
7th grade art – This line was inspired by fairy tales and epic stories
7th grade art - a closer look at one of the designs from the line inspired by fairy tales and epic stories
7th grade art – a closer look at one of the designs from the line inspired by fairy tales and epic stories
7th grade art – a closer look at one of the designs from the line inspired by fairy tales and epic stories
7th grade art - This student opted for the extra challenge of drawing the figure himself, rather than using a template
7th grade art – This student opted for the extra challenge of drawing the figure himself, rather than using a template
7th grade art -As noted in the objectives, another variation on this unit is for students to come up with looks using handmade and fancy paper put into collage. This student made several "scenes", with this being just one, envisioning a kind of fashion catalogue.
7th grade art -As noted in the objectives, another variation on this unit is for students to come up with looks using handmade and fancy paper put into collage. This student made several “scenes”, with this being just one, envisioning a kind of fashion catalogue.

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