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Amplifying Melanated Voices: A Conversation with Black Des

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Join us for a thought-provoking lecture exploring the inherent biases in the fashion industry, and hear from our panel of talented faculty, alumni, and student designers as they discuss how the industry can make much-needed progress in this area. We will be showcasing the brands and work experience of each panelist as they share their unique personal experience navigating the world of fashion.
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About Your Host, Jonie Thomas:
Assistant Department Chairperson for Fashion Design at FIDM, Jonie has spent over 20 years of her career focused on the plus size market. At Carole Little she designed career seasonal collections using novelty prints and feminine fabrics that were winners with the customers. While working for Warnaco (White Stag Brand) she was responsible for a Plus Size Division that produced over 150 million dollars a year in revenue, increasing the brand’s floor space while building solid relationships with buyers, DMM, GMM, and vendors. At E.S. Sutton she directed a design and production team while increasing the company presence in Wal*Mart across all Plus Size brands. She also created Plus Moda a plus size fast fashion brand sold only to Wal* Mart online customers. In the course of working at E. S. Sutton the company was awarded Supplier of the Year.

About TJ Walker:
Cofounder of the preeminent streetwear brand Cross Colours, which debuted in 1990 and amassed record sales in excess of $89 million within the first two years, FIDM Instructor TJ Walker’s menswear designs have been featured in Forbes, Details, Code, Black Enterprise, Elle, Source, Sportswear International, Vibe, and Women’s Wear Daily. Throughout his career, while simultaneously occupying the position of Creative Director, Design Consultant, or Chief Creative Officer for notable clothing companies and retailers such as Target Stores, Cross Colours, Groove Company, Menace, DKNY, DADA, and Converse, he has continued to create fine art, including acrylic paintings and commercial graphic illustrations.

About Octavius Terry:
The CEO and cofounder of men’s ready-to-wear brand GROOM (Gentlemen’s Ready-To-Wear Originals by Octavius Marsion), FIDM Alumnus Octavius has created designs for iconic celebrities from the world of music, entertainment, and sports, including Ray J, The Game, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Chris Brown, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Nick Cannon, Tamar Braxton, and Matt Barnes. Octavius’ designs have been worn on the red carpets of the Academy Awards, the Grammys, The American Music Awards, and many other award ceremonies, as well as at celebrity weddings. Octavius is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and has two Fashion Design degrees from FIDM.

About Devert Hickman:
Devert is a Theatre Costume Designer, with a prior twenty year career in the performing arts, where he traveled the world performing with Cirque du Soleil and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, and in Disney's "The Lion King.” In 2019, he was awarded the first Black Design Collective Scholarship, a scholarship for African-American Students in honor of Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, and subsequently earned his Associate of Arts degree in Fashion Design and an Advanced Theatre Costume Design degree from FIDM. Now a Costume Designer for film, television, and stage productions, Devert is most proud of the costumes designed for the FIDM Debut 2020 production of “Turando.” Most recently, he was commissioned to design costumes for Houston-based “Social Movement Company Dance.”

About Illeana Guzman:
A current FIDM Fashion Design student, Illeana is a Design Assistant at Sadie & Sage and an Illustration Tech for the clients of the brand POWATT. One of her most recent accomplishments is completing the MODE Magazine, a student publication at FIDM, as the Managing Editor. In addition to her work, other interests include organizing photoshoots, writing, music, and visual arts, such as painting and sketching. Illeana aspires to be a fashion designer for a forward thinking fashion house and is looking forward to completing her degree later this fall.

Visit fidm.edu for more information.

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