While there are many fashion designers in our program, one particularly stands out. Kala Marshall is a senior fashion design student who has made her mark in the Fashion Merchandise and Design program. Through her dedication and drive, she is one to beat. Kala plans to obtain an out of state internship this summer in Chicago, Illinois. After graduation, she hopes to continue working with her brand, Lynvonn La Belle, as well as obtaining experience through differing brands.
How do you define fashion and what does it mean to you?
I thought you can't really define fashion, in my opinion. I feel like fashion is just something that you do. It should be whatever you interpret it to be. Like me personally, I love like edgy stuff. I love be creative. Like a street edge, but like, cute and girly at the same time. But, that is just my personal style, so that’s fashion for me.
Why did you decide to pursue fashion as a career and what was your biggest contributing factor?
Well, for me at first I did not want to go into fashion. Like, I didn't know until my freshman year. That's when I actually changed my major. I came to school to be a athletic trainer. When I decided to make the switch, I came between interior design and actually designing clothes. What made me go towards designing clothes instead was that like when I was younger, my cousin used to say, ‘You can't dress, you can't dress! I’m going to dress you’, just because I didn't dress the way everybody else dressed. So that's kind of like why I pursued fashion.
Tell me about your greatest achievement as a black fashion designer.
I would say my greatest achievement would be, it's not even like technically towards like fashion design itself, but it would be being the head director of the OBU Fashion show. Doing that and being asked to do the FMD program with the Detroit program, I feel like that is my biggest accomplishment. I feel like this year has given me a lot and can only grow from here.
Do you believe being a person of color has made you a better designer?
Personally, no. I feel like my designs, or whatever I thought, it had just only really came from like me, looking at what everybody else was doing. I look at Instagram, I look at the world, what everybody else is wearing, what I see, and I went from my own students. A lot of my designs now had made me like, think ‘okay, maybe I need to think more in depth’, just by looking at other people’s stuff.
What have been some struggles you faced being a person of color in the industry?
I would say that when I go in some rooms, sometimes I feel like I stand out, but not in the good way. People don’t think that I’m going to come with something, just because of how I look or how I say things. Personally, especially like in personal settings, I talk like this. I don't change the way I talk, and I don't change the way I act because you should like me and like my designs for who I am.
What has been your biggest inspiration as a fashion designer, and how has this made you a better designer?
I would say my biggest inspiration would be the world and just how people dress and look like. Lately I've been trying to get into, like, looking at the runway shows and 3D designs and stuff like that, but I feel like that’s not for me. I feel like I resonate more with streetwear. Even looking at y’all magazine, I love the way that you guys’ dress, it fits me, and I just hate the way runway looks at times, so I would change it.
What is a typical day in the design process look like to you?
Like I said, I usually start with looking at Instagram. After that, I’ll create my designs and go on YouTube. People make stuff on YouTube really well and I’m like ‘Okay! That’s how you make that!’. There is a lot of good stuff on there, especially their DIY’s.
What advice would you give someone thinking about becoming a fashion designer?
I would say don't listen to anything else others have to say. Like I said, I came here for athletic training and the only reason why I did that was because I was told it wasn't practical to want to go into fashion. When I came into the program I was like ‘Oh! There’s a lot of jobs out here that has to do with fashion!’. In this industry, you don't have to be just a fashion designer or just a buyer. Most times I say I’m a fashion design major, people assume I want to be a designer. I’m not trying to be a designer. I can be so much.
Do you have a favorite black designer?
I really don't have a favorite back designer. I really love the small brand designers though. A small designer, Jays Crotchet co., is one of my favorites. She makes all her own designs and does it all the seamstress work herself!
What does the future of fashion mean to you?
I just want it to be something that everybody loves. I want people to make fashion whatever they want it to be.