A Clark Atlanta University student has used her innovation in fashion to win herself a scholarship! It’s hard to target just one aspect of fashion that Dacia Redmond has looked to change. She is tackling visibility for larger body types in retail. She wants lesser-known designers to have more access to the industry, and so much more. Read the recent release from CAU below to learn more about why Redmond just won a scholarship for changing the face of fashion.
Accessibility and body-positive acceptance are two aspects that are often overlooked in the fashion design and clothing industry. Clark Atlanta University senior Dacia Redmond hopes that her work can be a launching point to bring about change within the industry. Thanks to her insightful work, Redmond, a fashion merchandising major, has been recognized as a 2021 recipient of the Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Award presented by Women’s Wear Daily Magazine.
Redmond’s case study explores ways in which fashion brands can strengthen their marketing toward
plus-sized individuals while making their products more accessible. The scholarship fund was created by
designer Virgil Abloh to “foster equity and inclusion within the fashion industry by providing scholarships
to students of academic promise of Black, African-American, or African descent.”
The motivation behind Redmond’s research was shaped, in part, by her own experiences working in
retail at the Nike Store in her hometown of Durham, N.C. “Representation really matters,” said
Redmond. “At our store, I did not see any plus-size merchandise on the floor, which is a problem. The
fact is everyone is not an athlete, but everyone deserves to be able to find clothes that suit them.”
In her research, Redmond explores the ways in which clothing companies can reach overlooked groups
and ultimately improve brands’ marketing strategies while making their outreach more inclusive. “This
case study was second nature because it is all consumer-based,” said Redmond. “Fashion merchandising
is ultimately about what consumer wants and needs are and how we can best address those needs.”
Redmond cited her academic advisor Dr. Bridgette Tei as a source of inspiration and encouragement
during her research. She recalls beginning college unsure of what exactly pursuing a degree in fashion
merchandising would entail. Thanks to Dr. Tei’s guidance and support, Redmond quickly learned about
the opportunities that were available to her.
Redmond’s efforts also focus on creating more opportunities for Black people who are looking to make
their own way in the fashion industry. “I hope that my work in the industry makes it easier for people
coming after me,” Redmond said. “I want little girls and boys coming after me to look at me and say,
‘mommy, she looks like me.’”
Redmond believes that some of the obstacles for future Black fashion leaders begin within the
education system itself. Redmond remembers her own disappointment when she realized how little
funding there was for design and art students when she first entered college. She also believes it’s
important to push back against the negative stigma on students who pursue degrees in non-traditional
fields like fashion design or the arts.
The fashion industry must make greater strides to be more inclusive of independent designers, she
believes. As Redmond points out, “the fashion industry should be more open to accepting smaller
designers looking to break into the industry. That is how we create more diversity.” She also believes
that artists and designers need to be compensated financially for their work and creativity, instead of
merely being “paid” in experience.
Redmond credits her mother for the importance she places on making a way for others to follow in her
footsteps. She recalls her mother getting her and her brother involved in community service
opportunities from an early age. Redmond’s early experience with giving back to others has shaped her
desire to elevate the work of those who will come after her.
Although Redmond’s research and work focuses on the fashion industry, her spirit of inclusion and
acceptance, along with her desire to pave the way for the next generation, can be applied to almost any