The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


Follow KentWired on Instagram
Today’s Events

Student organization closes gap between fashion and Down Syndrome community


Photo courtesy of Nadia Hutkay

Dress Up For Downs is a student-led organization that partners with the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Ohio (DSANEO), bringing awareness to the Down Syndrome community through fashion. 

Dress Up for Downs was created in 2016 by alumna Sarah Petit.

The group’s current president and junior communications major Nadia Hutkay describes Petit’s inspiration for the organization.

“She wanted to kind of bridge the gap between the fashion industry and the Down syndrome community because she felt like there was a lack of diversity in the fashion industry,” she said. 

Dress Up For Down partners with the DSANEO throughout the semester, merging those in the Down syndrome community with Kent State students. 

DSANEO is a state group that works with individuals with Down syndrome and their families, providing them with support and resources.

“Our goals are to create connections with and raise money for the Down syndrome Community,” Hutkay said. “We partner with the Downtown Association of Northeast Ohio and that’s where part of our funds from our show go. We do a lot with them throughout the year. That’s where our models come from. We also strive to build connections with each other and with the models in our group.”

The two groups participate in various events throughout the year but focus mainly on their Spring Fashion show. 

Members of Dress Up For Downs are paired with a member of the Down syndrome community. The model and designer work together to create a custom-made, personalized outfit designed to the model’s choice. The models then walk the runway in the organization’s show, with all proceeds going to the DSANEO. 

Through the production of the fashion show, students form close relationships with individuals with Down syndrome and introduce them to the world of fashion. The outfits designed range from suit jackets to princess dresses.

“I think it’s really neat how [in] Dress Up for Downs, we make the outfits for the models. They’re made for exactly the models themselves,” Entertainment Officer Evelyn Brainard said. “I think it’s just a great thing because even the designers are learning how to make garments for different sizes and different proportions.” 

The organization meets bi-weekly to discuss design and event plans while working to advocate for the Down syndrome community. The group holds outings throughout the semester, such as Halloween parties, craft nights and basketball games. Students of all majors are encouraged to join the group.

“I just want our organization to be more well known, for people to understand that Dress Up For Downs is a club for everybody. You don’t necessarily have to be a fashion major. Other people can join the club and provide their input and still empower the disability community because, you know, everyone’s a part of our big general community, and just having different people kind of weigh in and uplift is really important to me,” said Vice President Jillian Mt.Castle.

For more information about events and meetings, follow @dressupfordowns on Instagram or email Nadia Hutkay at [email protected].

Kelsie Horner is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Kelsie Horner, Assistant Managing Editor
Kelsie is a senior journalism major with a minor in communications. In her three semesters at KentWired, she has served as a Digital Tech, Digital Editor and Assistant Managing Editor.
Contact her at [email protected].

Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *