Previewing Fairfax Academy’s Fashion in Motion

Fashion in Motion, an annual event put on by the Fairfax Academy’s Fashion Careers class, highlights the work of student designers.

Photo courtesy of Jin A. Chang
Photo courtesy of Jin A. Chang

At the front of Jin A. Chang’s classroom stands a row of mannequins. One wears a muslin dress with Japanese characters drawn on it. One wears a futuristic maroon jacket with plastic panels on its front. One even wears a pair of pants covered in lip appliques, reminiscent of Kylie Jenner’s famous lip kits. These pieces, in addition to many others that make up the collections from Chang’s students, will be shown on June 2 at Fashion in Motion, a fashion show that raises money for the charity Hope for Justice.

The two-part event has been an annual occurrence for the past four years, with the first half featuring student work from Chang’s Fashion 2 class and the second half showcasing her Fashion 1 students’ wearable art looks made of recyclable materials such as paper, staples and playing cards. This year, the event will be held from 7:30-9 p.m. on the third floor of George Mason University’s Hub Ballroom, with food catered by Chick-Fil-A and tickets ranging in price from $10-$20.

Photo by Aaron Royce
Photo by Aaron Royce

Chang, a Northern Virginia native and graduate of Parsons School of Fashion Design, worked for designers Vera Wang and Tracy Reese while studying at Parsons and used her post-college experience to design for celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Venus Williams and to create outerwear for Kenneth Cole and Calvin Klein and a children’s line for Puma. Chang’s love of teaching began when she volunteered with New York Cares, teaching poetry to inner-city middle schoolers. “Once they knew that I actually cared about them, it was limitless what they could do,” Chang says. “I saw that potential and absolutely fell in love with education.”

That experience has inspired Chang’s work with Fairfax Academy. The program hired Chang in 2011 after she critiqued students’ work and helped them hone their design skills. She’s taught the Fashion Careers classes since then and has worked on the Fashion in Motion event since 2013.

“As an educator, I teach these kids fashion design but also how to live in this world as an adult,” she says. “I want my students to be bold and stand up for what they believe in.”

The course emphasizes design but contains so many other aspects of the fashion business that it was renamed Fashion Careers from Fashion Design. Fashion in Motion is the culmination of these aspects, featuring a student-produced runway show and offering opportunities to learn about merchandising, marketing and more.

“Every year, I get a group of different designers and viewpoints,” Chang says. “You never get the same designers because we’re all different people that grew up differently with different experiences and aesthetics. It’s always different, and you can see that in the outcome of the collections.”

Photo courtesy of Jin A. Chang
Photo courtesy of Jin A. Chang

In Chang’s eyes, Fashion in Motion is really a celebration. “We get to celebrate with the Fashion 2 and 1 students for everything they’ve accomplished this year,” she says. “I think it’s important because it shows that we care about them and their successes, and it really brings the Northern Virginian community together.”

Hope for Justice, a nonprofit organization Chang was drawn to because of her passion for kids and youth, raised almost $3,000 from last year’s Fashion in Motion ticket sales, their first initiative with the event. “Their focus is helping kids and youth in modern-day slavery,” Chang says. “In reality, for it to stop, people need to be more aware. Hope for Justice trains their professionals to know the signs of human trafficking and [how to] rescue victims. They take them out of their situations and give them medical, financial and counseling help to rebuild their lives so they can be whole human beings.”

Fashion in Motion will be held from 7:30-9 p.m. on the third floor of George Mason University’s Hub Ballroom on June 2. Tickets range from $10-$20 and can be purchased online or on the night of the event.

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