The Daily Gamecock

Fashion show gives back to Clothed in Hope

Local designers, students contribute to charity benefit

A powder blue tube top over a pair of black skinny jeans was among the pieces shown from fourth-year retailing student Amy Woodell's "restyled" tees line for her charity "Clothed in Hope."

Following it were four other tops made from recycled T-shirts Woodell had cut, sewn and embellished to show at the Retail 388 "Birds of a Feather Flock Together" fashion show.

"The show was great," Woodell said. "It was awesome to see how many people came out to support."

Woodell, along with two other student designers and a handful of local retail sponsors, showed their collections at 701 Whaley's Grand Hall, which was packed with more than 350 attendees. Throughout the night, sheer fabric, furs and long silhouettes were repeated in the presentations.

"This is my fourth show. We do one in April — in the spring — in addition to this one," said Donna Watts, professor of the RETL 388 class that puts the show on. "Students pick a different charity every semester, so it's fun to see which one they pick."

Watts said that in three semesters the class has raised more than $1,000 for charity, not counting the earnings from Sunday night's show.

For this year's show, the class chose to raise money for Woodell's charity.

"She's in our class, so she's a student," fourth-year retail student Kari Haviland said. "She's local and she really represents our university well, so we decided to go with her charity."

Haviland was the director for this year's show. As a former member of Fashion Board at USC, she wasn't new to putting on a large-scale show.

"We were here at 7 a.m., so we made it extra special and gave it a chic touch," said Haviland, looking toward the runway that had been decorated with old-style lanterns, crystals dripping from the roof and lights wrapped around the posts. Walls were decorated with flower arrangements to contribute to the "chic" ambiance of the show.

After spending the summer of 2010 on a mission trip to Zambia, Africa, Woodell felt called to use her knowledge of fashion and retail to help empower the women of the slums where she worked.

This February, she started Clothed in Hope, a program to promote long-term economic development by teaching Zambian women the art of sewing. This June, Clothed in Hope will begin its first two-month training program with eight instructors. Each woman who graduates from the program will receive a sewing machine and will have the opportunity to create recycled clothing for the company, which will be sold through

"I'm really passionate about this opportunity," Woodell said. "It's a way we can be part of creating a sustainable livelihood. For us, sewing is a hobby, but for these women, it's a life-changing skill and it's going to have a ripple effect through their families and through the community. It's a knowledge they can pass on to their children."

Woodell said she was grateful to the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management for its continuous support of her organization. This past semester, the Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management 301 professional development class has been working to raise nearly $5,000 to help cover the initial operating costs of Clothed in Hope's teaching program.

"I've had incredible support from my friends and from the university," Woodell said. "It's crazy looking back on this journey and all that I've learned in the past year, and it's humbling to realize that the community is coming together for this cause.

Woodell spoke briefly and showed a short film about her charity at the show moments before showing her collection, which gave attendees a preview of the types of pieces the Zambian women would be learning to make.

Third-year retailing student Ashlyn Tuggle also showed her collection. Under the label Southern Beaus, Tuggle displayed a collection of seersucker and color-blocked bow ties and clutches. Tuggle said she got involved so she could get the word out about her brand.

The third student designer looking to get the word out about her brand was second-year retailing student Lilly Greenhalgh, presenting the first collection under her label Halgh. Described by Greenhalgh as a mix between Mulberry and Tory Burch, the collection emphasized long fluttering silhouettes that found favor with attendees.

"I was inspired by animal prints," Greenhalgh said. "And I really love Bohemian style, so there are a lot of sheers."

In addition to these designers, local retailers including VanJean, Bohemian, Pink Sorbet, Belladea and LaRoque showed pieces during the show. Teacher-turned-designer Carol Copeland also showed her first collection, describing it as more of a menagerie than an actual collection.