7 Things You Probably Didn't Know About...
If you are at all involved with the fashion program at Central Michigan University, you know Professor Ian Mull. We all know his annual fabulous Threads Fashion Show, his iconic outfits, and his passion for sharing the fashion industry with students. There are a few things, however, you probably did not know, bringing us to 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Ian Mull.
His first experience in the fashion industry began at a womenswear boutique.
After receiving this position and learning more about the business side of fashion, he quickly excelled and became manager. In this role, he was able to prepare employees for work on the floor, buy merchandise, execute visual merchandising displays, plan events and organize runway presentations.
He began his college career studying Early Elementary Education at Auburn University in Alabama.
After graduating from Auburn University, he transferred to Michigan State and received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After his career at the womenswear boutique, he went back to school and received his master’s degree, and shortly after, begun teaching at Central Michigan University.
He was a nationally and world-ranked swimmer at Auburn University.
After his time at Auburn University, he swam and trained for the Olympics at Michigan State University. He had been swimming for his entire life, as his father was a swim coach, and coached him most of his life.
Iris Van Herpen and Alexander McQueen are two of his favorite fashion houses.
When asked what fashion house he would most like to design for, the first two into his mind were Alexander McQueen and Iris Van Herpen. He speaks highly of both houses, saying about Alexander McQueen, “he was innovative, his content as well as his message in his collections were really powerful but edgy and a little controversial, which I gravitate toward, that aesthetic, but also the discussion points. With controversy there is some sort of conflict that we as a society need to work through. I like to go to those places because we can grow from there”. He admires Iris Van Herpen as a designer because she, “approaches design and fashion with technology, materials, and movement, in a way that I haven’t seen anybody else do.”
His students love to create clothing & accessories for him, he tells us his favorites.
“Whenever I get the opportunity to wear something a student either gives me or shares with me, not only do I see the craftsmanship but I also get to see the relationship that I had with them, and that’s so special, that’s why I am a teacher.” During the interview, he wore a large bracelet resembling spinal cords, he brings this up as one of his favorite pieces created for him. The bracelet was 3D printed by a past student, Eli Zaborney. Another piece that he loved was created by current student Marc Woodworth. The jacket was a black blazer style vest and featured a large tulle ‘flame’ across the front. He also brings up his first experience buying a student’s designs in a store. Zach Stoner designed a sweatshirt, and Mull purchased as soon as he saw the name on the tag. “I was so proud that I could actually buy his work from a store.”
His first connection with fashion came from watching the design process on Project Runway.
Project Runway was the first time he realized the complexity behind the designs that were constructed, and the process that goes into each garment we wear every day. At the Threads Fashion Show in 2017, he had the honor of hosting Tim Gunn for an interview, and he stayed to watch the show. “To have him there was remarkable, we weren’t sure if he was going to stay for the show or watch the show because he was doing an interview with the CMU community, but he ended up staying, not because he had to, but because he was really interested in what our students were doing.
This year is his fourth NYFW with CMU students.
“Its an incredible experience for the producers of the fashion show, they get to see how its organized, they get to see key players, they get to see kind of the details of what needs to go into a fashion show. Putting on a fashion show is not an easy task, so it gives them that behind the scenes perspective” Not only do students gain incredible experience through this opportunity, but Mull does as well, “I get to share the experience, what I take from it is that I am absorbing everything so that when I go back to teach, in Mount Pleasant, I can say ‘this is how they do things in New York City on the top stages in the world.’”
While there is a new face in our FMD program, she is not to be overlooked. Jihyun Sung is making her mark on her students as she leads the NRF Program, and VERGE Magazine, to greatness. Her involvement has left an imprint on all students in the little time she has been working at Central Michigan University. However, because of her recent employment, not many know who Jihyun Sung is, leading us to 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Jihyun Sung.
She originally grew up in South Korea.
“I lived in Daegu, South Korea, almost my entire life. The city has four beautiful seasons including: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Over the summer it typically is very hot and humid, while the winter has a little bit of snow, nothing like Michigan!”
She began her college career studying fashion merchandising from Keimyung University.
“I got my undergrad back in South Korea, from Keimyung University, in fashion merchandising. From there, I came to the United States and obtained my master’s and Ph.D. My master’s was done at Colorado State University in apparel merchandising. My Ph.D., on the other hand, was obtained from Auburn University, also in apparel merchandising. While you may already know, fashion merchandising and apparel merchandising are very similar majors. In total, I have been in this area for ten years.
Her passion for fashion came to her at a young age.
“Since I was very young, I loved styling myself. When I was thirteen years old, I actually wanted to become a pet clothing designer, which is where I originally found my interest in fashion. My passion for fashion was also fueled by my art and design course in high school. I knew of the fashion design program at the time; however, I was not aware of the fashion merchandising program offered. From there my interest in business was sparked. I asked myself ‘If I am interested in fashion and business at the same time, what should I do?’, right? And the fashion merchandising program was there! From there I was able to apply to the program, which started my career in fashion!”
She resonates most with Korean style.
“I’ll say more Korean. That’s because I was born, raised, and grew up in Korea, so, I would definitely follow more Korean styles. If you think about it, Koreans are very sensitive about fashion trends. Koreans know about their body image and have a good understanding of it. What that means is, they try to hide some body parts they are not satisfied with and know how to express and expose the parts of their body they are satisfied with. This allows them to know how to play with their garments and shapes on their body. For these reasons, I would say I would lean towards Korean styles.”
She is inspired by Korea and the United States.
“I would have to say both, for which I believe I should take advantage of. Because I am from Korea, I can use technology to get and keep in touch with my family and friends to allow for my inspiration from my country to flourish. However, because I currently live in the United States, I am also inspired by the America. So, I would have to say both.”
She will begin teaching the new styling course taking place this spring.
“I joined Central Michigan University last year, 2021, and have heard an interest of fashion styling from multiple students since. Due to my student’s interest, as well as my own, I decided to develop and teach a new fashion styling course next spring. I have heard a lot of excitement coming from our students, and I have to say, I’m excited as well! Some things that are to be expected from the course are cultural differences in styling, personal styling, editorial styling, etc. Students should be excited on how to learn about styling in all different sectors, and how to proceed from that in the future.”
Her favorite part of her job is teaching and interacting with her students.
“Actually, that’s my favorite question! I would have to say that teaching students and interacting with my students is an amazing feeling. The biggest reason why I wanted to become a professor was to teach and guide my students into the right path for their future. I always kept this in mind while I did my masters and Ph.D., as there were a few times of disparity. Many times, I would want to give up, but I kept telling myself ‘You have this dream to teach students, so don’t give up!’. That is the sole reason I am here today. I want to be not only a great educator to my students, but also a friend.”
With over 106 contributions, 99 articles, and 10 books, Usha Chowdhary is a profound woman. As she approaches her 50th anniversary of teaching, her passion for helping students has only grown. You may think you know her from class, but here are 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Usha Chowdhary.
She was born in Dehli, India.
“I was born in the capital of Delhi and was raised in the northwest region of India. I did my masters in 1974 from MS University of Central India. Growing up I was studious and sporty. I was only daughter with three brothers. I grew up among boys and I played all boys games like a tomboy. When I started teaching my personal interest in fashion sparked.”
She has an inquisitive nature that fuels her research.
“It’s my inquisitive mind. I look for the gaps, and I want to fill the gaps. Ideas that something is missing comes from teachers, literature, students, and people working in the field. I will make a project and figure out a way to find the funding to do it. I have always loved it. I have never felt stressed out for research. Filling the gap takes me to the next level”
Her passion for teaching is fueled by students.
“Students have always been my life. I always thought that they are my children away from home. They always make me happy, whether I was advisor for different organizations, or I taught them in class”
She encourages lifelong learning.
“One piece of advice that I have to offer students is to be flexible and make learning a lifelong habit. Instead of complaining about what you do not have, make the best from what you do have. Having this attitude prevented me from the negativity that may slow me down. I just did that and sought support from thousands of people whom I did not even know.”
Her inherently fashionable mother influenced her style.
“Fashion entered my life from my mom’s creativity and innovativeness that always made me come across as a well-dressed and fashionable child. My interest in fashion did not spark until the mid-1970s when I started teaching at a university. I wanted to be a role model for my students and show clothing that was not available to them. Some of my color choices have been the same for years. I have worn red, royal blue, yellow and mostly colors that people do not wear here.”
Professor Ian Mull was a student in her classroom.
“He came here as a graduate student. He was always very dedicated, sincere, and mature. One of the projects he had to do was select the appropriate fabric for intended end-use. Ian had chosen bow ties and then he had gotten into business later before he was on faculty with us. He has been a fresh breeze for us ever since he started teaching for our program. Whenever faculty left, or we developed new courses, he was always willing to teach students. He never whined or complained. It is nice to see him bloom to the best of his potential and ability, and I’m sure he can do even better. He is a blessing for our program.”
If you’re lucky, she might cook for you.
“If they are my American friends, they have always liked my Indian cooking. So, I will make Indian snacks, Indian meals, Indian desserts, and Indian drinks. For some of the groups that I was advisor of, I held meetings in my home. My students always would ask me to make Masala for them. I love cooking and will cook Indian food unless someone asks for something else.”