Recently, we spoke with current student, Shana McCracken, about her fashion adventures and goals. Enjoy.

Cañada Fashion Department (CFD): What degree/certificate are you working towards/or did you receive?
Shana McCracken (SM): I haven’t decided yet which certificate to pursue. So many of the classes in the Fashion Department interest me, and the ones I’ve taken so far fulfill requirements for different certificates. I understand some students have earned all of them! That’s an achievement I’d like to aspire to!

CFD: What is your ultimate fashion-related goal?
SM: I would like to specialize in eco-fashion, preferably involving reuse. A few companies are starting take-back programs, where customers can donate their used garments made by that company. (Eileen Fisher is a great example.) If a garment is in good condition, they will simply re-sell it. (EF uses the proceeds to benefit women’s organizations around the world.) But in cases where a garment is damaged in some way (if it has a stain, a tear, etc.), there are still things that can be done with it. I can imagine working with other companies to develop take-back programs and figure out creative reuses for their once-loved clothing. But who knows? I’m sure my ideas and goals will evolve the more I learn!

CFD:What is your background before Cañada?
SM: In terms of fashion, I’m new to the industry, but I’ve always loved sewing and creating new things out of “old stuff.” My educational and professional backgrounds to this point have been in the environmental field.

CFD:How have the courses and experiences helped you work towards your fashion-related goals?
SM: I understand the industry better after having taken the Intro to the Fashion Industry class. I have a better understanding of the process a garment goes through start-to-finish and all of the different roles people play along that chain. Flat Pattern gave me some very tangible and useful skills. I don’t think I’m likely to become a pattern-maker, myself, but I know more about what they do, and I’ll appreciate them even more when I work with them! I also have more confidence now when I need to tweak a store-bought pattern.

CFD:Tell us a bit about your contest entry and the evolution of that design. 
SM: I honestly didn’t set out to make a dress. I began by collecting neckties (which I love for their color, pattern and history) and then weaving them. Once I did that, the dress design sort of suggested itself. From there I knew what I wanted to do, and I just had to put in the time to make the construction work.

CFD:Can you talk about some of the projects you’ve done in your current position? 
SM: I’m co-chairing the California Prevention, Reuse & Repair Technical Council. We just did a campaign to make National Reuse Day October 20th an official holiday.

CFD:Can you talk about your Betabrand experience and the process your design has been through and will ultimately need to go through in order to be created?
SM: A couple of months ago I submitted an idea to Betabrand’s Think Tank: a shirt that can be worn while cycling that provides some added safety. The back would have reflective lettering that says “<–3 Ft.” to remind drivers that they must legally allow cyclists this much space. The way Betabrand’s process works, you need to get a certain number of votes for your design before they make up a prototype. After that, they put the “beta” design up on their site and see how many people are willing to crowdfund it. If there’s enough interest, they’ll put it into full production. A percentage of the profits goes to the designer who submitted the idea. My shirt got a bunch of votes at the beginning, but the rate has slowed since then. As more designs are submitted, the ideas that came along earlier get a little buried. What I’ve learned is you really have to promote your design to keep it alive and get the votes you need. I guess that’s true in the fashion industry in general in a way, so it’s good practice!
I have 104 votes so far. If you feel like taking a look and maybe adding your own vote, go here. It’s fun to look at all the creative Think Tank ideas.

CFD:Other thoughts?
SM: I would love for eco-fashion to become the default rather than a niche in the industry. It has already become more mainstream, and that will only increase as resources become more scarce and a larger percentage of customers demand sustainable clothing. The good news is the days of eco-fashions being made of nothing but beige hemp are over! I attended a conference on sustainable fashion and textiles at FIT this past summer, and you wouldn’t believe the huge range of things people are doing! Believe it or not, we may actually be able to grow textiles (not fibers) — and even whole garments — from yeast or algae in the not-too-distant future!

Thank you, Shana. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!

Shana1Image by Suszi Lurie-McFadden