Art-to-wear

Name: Alysha Kupferer
Major: Apparel design and technology with a minor in art (textiles)
Year: Senior
Hometown: Columbus, Indiana

A learning community: Alysha decided Purdue was for her after shadowing a consumer sciences and retailing student during a campus visit. “Even though it’s a Big Ten school and you get all the Big Ten advantages, the apparel design program is tiny. Every single person knows each other; they are friends. It isn’t competitive. It is all about supporting and learning from each other.”

Everything can inspire: Natural, earthy or nerdy things all interest Alysha. She believes that fashion is not meant to be taken too seriously. “I know exactly who I want my customer to be. Walking around on campus, I can look at people and know that she is my customer. He is my customer. What are they thinking? What do they want? Where are they going? How can I make their lives better with my clothes?”

High-fashion study abroad: Her interest in hand-worked textiles and the Sydney fashion scene led Alysha to the Australian label, Romance Was Born. There she gained first-hand experience in how runway looks are translated into ready-to-wear garments. “As someone who is interested in starting my own small company, I wanted to find out how they did it. How did they get into fashion week at such a young age?”

Feedback loop: Base 14, formed in 2002 by Alysha and her brother, Tyler, is an experimental multimedia company that works in film, fashion, and design. “We always collaborate on projects. His creativity inspires mine and vice versa. Base 14 allows me to explore interests outside the classroom and continually renews my love for my work.”

Pulling everything together: When designing her senior collection, Alysha carefully chose the season, identified her customer, developed an overall mood, and picked a target retailer. Loosely inspired by the Boy Scouts, her garment detailing is pulled from researching maps and field guides. She emphasizes textile work—from topographic map prints to hand dyeing and embellishments. “My goal is a range of clothing that is both casual and wearable while still incorporating intimate, artistic details.”

Fashion lovers: As president of the Purdue Fashion Association, Alysha is happy that the club’s membership now includes people from all across campus. “It’s a place to be with others who love crazy cool, different kinds of fashion. You can learn a technique, like silk screening, or just have a random burst of creativity.”

Lessons learned: “Constantly ask questions. Fully tap out all of the people you are working with. Learn as much as you can. Make the contacts that will help you out later.”

By Susan Ferringer