Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wearing the Talk about Ethical Fashion

After graduating from Duke in 2007, Rachel Weeks went to Sri Lanka on a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her interest in ethical fashion, a subject she explored in her Women’s Studies senior honors thesis, “The Wonder Bra: Theorizing Globalization, Women’s Labor, and Consumption for Twenty-First Century Feminism,” a study of the intersections between fashion and academic feminism. But her interest in the topic wasn’t just academic.

While researching socially responsible apparel manufacturing in Sri Lanka, Rachel founded School House, LLC, a “people friendly” fashion collegiate apparel brand. The Fulbrighter joined forces with fashion designer Colleen McCann over the Internet, and together they are now launching a 54-product collection at a number of U.S. universities—beginning with Duke. School House’s factory partner, JK Apparel, is the first living wage factory initiative in Sri Lanka and is supported directly through the sale of School House products.

Rachel felt the first stirrings of what became School House when she and classmate Haley Hoffman were planning DukePlays: the Party, which the Duke Libraries hosted in February 2007. Rachel said, “…absolutely, the idea definitely came to me as a result of the DukePlays party.”

Working with the theme “tradition never looked so good,” Rachel and Haley mounted an exhibit for the party of iconic Duke images drawn from University Archives and created an array of party favors that also paid tribute to campus life through the decades. Even Rachel’s party dress was inspired by the “tradition” theme. She said,

The reaction to my vintage Duke t-shirt dress from both current students and alumni made me start thinking about the collegiate market and the opportunities there were to improve design, product range, etc. Our “Green House” collection dresses are inspired by that first dress—each one is crafted from “recycled” Duke t-shirts…

Models wearing School House clothesPhotos by C. Stephen Hurst

The School House line will be introduced at Duke in a trunk show on Reunions Weekend. The trunk show will give fashionistas—and anyone loyal to Duke—an opportunity to learn more about the factory in Sri Lanka and the women who work there and see and buy School House clothes.


noha said...

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don said...

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