Everyone being included is the main concept throughout Embrace. The theme of this year’s inclusive fashion show is “Embrace Identity.”
“My goal is always everybody, every day, all day. However that plays out, if you’re open and flexible, you never know what can happen and how much you can enrich the lives of others around you as well as your own,” said Betty Hurd, Program Director for Fashion Marketing.
Embracing identity is intertwined closely with inclusivity, according to Hurd.
“We have a huge initiative at the college with the relationship to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our students have embraced that. We talk about it every day…Fashion is a way you express who you are, so you can tell your story. You live your life and then, you know, the other piece is what do you wear but you wear as part of that first impression of who you are and identifying yourself,” said Hurd.
The entire process of Embrace is democratic. Each year, the students get to vote on what the theme will be, who opens and closes the show and “virtually everything in the classroom,” said Hurd.
While “embrace” will always be part of the theme, the rest of the theme is open to student input. Last year’s fashion show was “Embrace the Change,” which was only available via recordings due to coronavirus.
Another way that inclusivity is a strong message with Embrace is with collaboration within the school. Photography students took photos of models for the book and cosmetology students are using their skills to do hair and makeup for models.
“The mission and vision really just involves a collaboration. We believe very much in everyone, everywhere, all day,” said Hurd.
Another message that is consistent with Embrace is sustainability. Nothing can be bought new. Everything has to be already owned, thrifted or upcycled.
“Embrace also includes recycling, upcycling, repurposing. We value the planet. The fashion industry, you know, historically has had, you know, high pollution and fast fashion and just sort of all of those things,” said Hurd. “And as we’re becoming more mindful as a society and globally, really looking at what the impact of fashion is, we want to embrace having a good planet.”
The fashion show was held in person at Truax on Monday, Nov. 22, while being live streamed and recorded. A book from the event is available, filled with the looks as well as the stories that go with them.
A talk from Alok followed the fashion show. Their talk focused on celebrating self and breaking away from transphobia. Alok is an internationally acclaimed gender non-conforming writer, performer and public speaker, as listed by the Madison College Office of Equity and Inclusion. After the performance, there was a signing of Alok’s book, “Beyond the Gender Binary.”