‘Project Runway’ alum and Tad b. designer

Sarah Blei

Luncheon held

Season five contestant of ‘Project Runway’, Stephen “Suede” Whitney Baum talks to junior fashion majors Mallory Schmidt and Kim Rigby yesterday at a luncheon at Rockwell Hall. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

The last seams have been sewn for the senior fashion design portfolio show. To celebrate, two Ohio natives dropped in for a luncheon.

“I’m proud to be an example for students to come from Ohio, have a dream and make it happen,” Tad Boetcher said of the Tad b. fashion line.

Known simply as Tad, Boetcher is a successful fashion design graduate from Kent State who visited the sixth annual luncheon yesterday hosted by the Friends of Fashion.

Attending the luncheon along with Boetcher was Stephen Whitney Baum, a Kent State fashion design graduate, better known as “Suede” from “Project Runway.”

The luncheon was held to honor contributions Suede and Boetcher made for the portfolio show. Between New York City and visits to Kent, the two critiqued students’ sketches from the beginning, giving feedback and suggesting changes.

They advised students throughout the process of designing their garments.

Linda Orhn-McDaniel, assistant professor who teaches the senior fashion studio class, explained there is not a set number of students they allow in the show.

“The selection is based on quality and how the garments are aesthetically constructed,” she said.

Senior design majors start their work over the summer with sketches.

Suede and Boetcher are now left to make the final critiques this week, determining which senior design majors will get the opportunity to show their collection in the senior portfolio fashion show this April.

Suede advises students to “follow your dreams regardless of what anyone tells you.”

He also reflected on his education at Kent State.

“My whole experience at Kent State was wonderful,” he said. “When I hire people, I look for students who are well-rounded and able to carry on a conversation, and Kent State students reflect this. Kent has helped me be a well-rounded person.”

Megan Arthur, senior fashion merchandising major, said she hopes to one day obtain celebrity status for her work, as Suede has.

“He makes you know you can do anything,” Arthur said.

Boetcher tries to make students feel the same way.

He describes himself as a “(1995) success story.”

Boetcher owns Tad b., which is a knitwear label. He explained how it continues to grow, especially during this economic time when clothes would normally be the last thing on peoples’ mind. Boetcher strives to make Tad b. affordable for everyone.

“I haven’t reached all my goals yet, but I’m still trying,” he said.

Suede and Boetcher’s next visit to campus will be for the fashion show.

“One of the most important things is to not give up on hope,” Boetcher said. “Believe in yourself and your design talent.”

Contact College of Fashion Merchandising and Design reporter Sarah Blei at [email protected].