With an eye on fair trade and improved labor laws, junior Blakeley Rogers wants to educate her peers away from “fast fashion” – buying what’s inexpensive and wearing it only a few times – to sustainable fashion.
“We used to have four seasons, now we have 52 because every week people want to buy something new. My mother and grandmother used to buy one nice dress and now (my generation thinks) every New Year’s we have to have a new dress,” Rogers said, who wants to work for a fair trade company after graduation.
Her sister was a teenage model, so Rogers grew up around fashion.
Her interest in the sustainability angle of apparel design and merchandising came after she arrived at Appalachian. “App State is so sustainable and there are a lot of eco-friendly minded people around,” she said.
A pivotal moment in her education came in her freshman year when a professor showed her class the documentary “True Cost” about the exploitation of overseas workers by major western brands to sell clothing inexpensively, a business model many industry leaders consider unsustainable. Rogers later went to a screening of the film in her hometown of Atlanta and met the director – “I never would have known about the film if it weren’t for Dr. Oliver,” she said.
In addition to its engaged faculty with years of experience in the fashion industry, Rogers praised Appalachian’s Apparel Design and Manufacturing (BS) program for the required marketing minor. She said the program gives her and her peers more career versatility than what they might receive at a design school.
“I love it,” Rogers said of the program. “I have a personal relationship with all my professors, and they all bring something different. One teacher is really focused on textiles, one is an editor for a sewing magazine – all are interesting in their own ways.”
She came to Appalachian not knowing anyone, so she joined a lot of clubs in order to make friends. That has led to leadership opportunities and broadened perspectives about people. She has been active in Appalachian African Community, App Sits meditation club, Appalachian Apparel Association, Muslim Student Association, Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge and other groups.
“I love App State,” she said.