Designing in the Classroom

For Indianapolis native and fashion design student Spencer Sholty, “fashion is a form of self expression and personal image making and how people show the way they want to be perceived on any given day.” Sholty, who studies at The Art Institute of Indianapolis is no stranger to hard work and dedication when creating his designs for his classes. One of the challenges facing a design student like Sholty is meshing complex design ideas with the fine skill of sewing. “At school, we have to make garments to industry standards. It’s better to not bite off more than you can chew” advises Sholty.

As a fashion design student, one of Sholty’s most memorable experiences at The Art Institute of Indianapolis was assisting backstage with the Art Institute’s annual student fashion show as part of the event and fashion show production course. “It pushed me in a lot of ways and I have a huge appreciation for what goes into putting on an event like that.” For Sholty, a key part of the design process is the “behind the scenes” aspect and learning how garments are constructed. Sholty values the work invested into each garment he creates and finds inspiration for his designs on the big screen. His inspiration for several of his designs are found in the movies and stars of the 1940s-1960s. “The costumes and the women who wore them have served as great inspiration to me. Some of my favorites include Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief and Audrey Hepburn in Charade.

Designing for his final senior collection, Sholty drew inspiration from the British Isles, the punk music scene and his own Scottish heritage. “For example, one of my looks is a full skirted tartan mini dress with safety pin details worn under a violet long sleeved t-shirt and gray leggings and the look straddles a casual elegance feel that encapsulates my vision of what British fashion is all about.” The designing and creating of his senior collection will be a highlight of Sholty’s portfolio.

Throughout the course of his time as a fashion student, Sholty’s most rewarding coursework he’s taken include courses in computer pattern making and textile design. “I enjoyed the computer pattern making class because I love to work with computers and the processes of how to make patterns in the computer using the Gerber pattern making software appealed to me.” Sholty’s love for fashion stems from his interest in fabric, “The opportunity to use beautiful fabric was one of the reasons that I became interested in fashion in the first place, so I loved the opportunity to design my own fabrics and prints for fabrics.” Sholty’s coursework has inspired his career aspirations. After graduation in 2016, Sholty hopes to work in computer pattern making or print and fabric design.

Several words of wisdom Sholty believes are important for students interested in studying fashion in Indianapolis, “The Indianapolis fashion community is a small community, so it’s important to network extensively and take as many opportunities as you can to get yourself out there. Even if you don’t end up staying in Indianapolis, the connections you make here can help you with your career.” For students returning to the classroom this fall, he advises wearing layers, “Layering is always an idea for fall. It’s a great opportunity to get creative with color and pattern mixing.” “Also, scarves are a perfect way to finish an outfit in the colder months.”

Image by Bethany Quinn.

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One reply on “Designing in the Classroom”
  1. says: Kacie

    I completely agree – the Indy fashion industry is small but super connected. Networking is key! Love seeing more designers coming out of the Hoosier state to bring fresh collections to the fashion industry at large.


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