Yayra Tamakloe, a senior fashion design major at Kent State, traveled to China last month to compete in the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology’s International Youth Design Competition.
The competition required four ready-to-wear outfits that resembled cultural expression. Tamakloe, inspired from her cultural background, designed a collection that represented the place she called home for 17 years, Ghana.
“Being a Ghanaian-American, I decided to tie in both cultures into the collection,” Tamakloe said. “I focused mostly on fabric piecing traditionally done by seamstresses in Ghana.”
All four pieces in Tamakloe’s collection consisted of traditional African prints, solid fabrics, chording, horse hair and zippers. The fabric she chose for each piece was made out of cotton materials. Tamakloe said she chose cotton because it is clean and comfortable, which is perfect for Ghana’s humid climate.
“The garments are meant to be comfortable yet classy,” Tamakloe said. “I wanted to create simple silhouettes that would still be comfortable in hot Ghana temperatures.”
According to Tamakloe, this is the first collection she has ever created, and it only took her one month to complete.
She said she specifically designed the collection after being inspired to enter the competition by Tameka Ellington, an assistant professor of fashion design and merchandising at Kent State.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. Ellington, I wouldn’t have dived into this,” Tamakloe said. “I was really nervous at first, but Dr. Ellington said ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ and she was right.”
Tamakloe said she originally found out about the competition after receiving an email that was forwarded to all fashion design students from the fashion school director. She said that sewing has never been a problem for her because of her heritage, so when she heard about this competition, she was instantly interested.
After being accepted into the final round, Tamakloe packed her bags and traveled 16 hours to Beijing. Tamakloe said the competition paid for everything, including her flight to and from Beijing and a room to stay in while she was there.
Tamakloe was one of 30 finalists from all over the world. Each finalist was handpicked after a series of submissions that took place over the summer. The competition was open to a variety of individuals, mostly undergraduate and graduate students.
“One thing I learned from this competition is how different ready-to-wear styles in China and in America are,” Tamakloe said. “It definitely opened my eyes to other cultures and … I’m eager to learn more.”
Dominque Pishotti is the fashion reporter, contact her [email protected]