“Omaha Fashion Week is a gratifying opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students in our programs,” said Sandra Starkey, assistant professor and supervisor for the show. “At UNL Night, students discover first-hand what goes into preparing a high level fashion event and showcasing creative garment designs at a famous runway show. This expertise closely ties to our curricula in merchandising, textile and clothing design and fashion communications.”
Ritu Jadwani, a PhD student in merchandising showed a sustainable ethical collection in the emerging designer category. Jadwani helps women in India through her program, Namaste NYC, which works with women who are physically challenged and victims of domestic violence and abuse to help them become financially independent. The effort partners to train the women in sewing and hand embroidery to conserve the traditional crafts and textiles of the Gujarat, Western India.
All the ladies are paid decent salaries to manufacture handcrafted one of a kind ethical accessory like scarves, apparel, trinket accessories and purses. Namaste NYC engages with varied craftsmen from various communities to support the crafts and develop inclusive communities and unique products. In her study at at Nebraska, Jadwani works with refugee women to understand the problems they encounter in business and help rural students in entrepreneurship skills.
The collection presented at Omaha Fashion Week consists of hand block printed natural coloured fabrics employing the specific technique of “Ajrakh,”done in Gujarat, Western India. Several clothing were also hand woven utilizing the double ikkat style practiced in Southern India. Tunics, dresses, wrap tunic, skirts and shrugs were adorned with scarves and Indian design to indicate the combination between modern and traditional, to produce contemporary looks. The accessories were hand sewn, hand embroidered by expert artisans to match the garment range. The collection was produced to promote the native crafts and textiles of India and support artists and women in the region.
“Showcasing the crafts and textile of India at Omaha Fashion Week, to empower women and craftsmen back home is a dream come true for me,” Jadwani said. I would like to express my appreciation to my mentors at TMFD, UNL, and Omaha Fashion Week for providing me with this opportunity. My ambition is to contribute, in a small way, to the emancipation of underrepresented women on a national and international scale, for the sake of improving society and the community.