The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Debut members learn the fashion trade

Rustles and whispered voices are heard from backstage and suddenly, a foot steps out from the shadows. A slim body struts down the white walkway and cameras start to flash from all sides, casting an even brighter glow on the model. High school students stand behind one of these cameras, experiencing the fashion world up close. These students are members of Debut.

Debut President senior Janna Wang, alongside Vice President sophomore Michelle Deng, began Debut last year, establishing themselves as the first fashion club on campus. They welcomed anyone with a passion for anything related to fashion, whether it is photography, design or blogging. Throughout the year, their club has grown to accommodate a wide spectrum of students, each equipped with their own talents.

“We had a handful of friends and some ideas,” Janna said. “Debut is being created as we go along.”

Debut differs from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) club mainly in its formation. While FIDM club gains support from the institute to promote related activities, Debut started out from scratch. They had to learn how to reach out to strangers for opportunities and events through email and telephone, creating networks from past connections to find new ones.

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“We thought that having a fashion club organization seemed more credible and … we could prove that we are more than just another high schooler interested in fashion or arts,” Janna said.

Because they started out with little, members needed to fundraise in order to gain funds. They staffed booths at the Holiday Faire and the Valentine’s Day Faire, selling small items like heart-shaped sushi. Michelle said it ended up being a great bonding time between the members.

“At the same time, having no outside guidance allows Debut to go along with member interests,” Michelle said. “We… like to go with the flow.”

The members try to stay as active as they can throughout the school year by participating in any event they can afford. There isn’t a set goal for each school year due to the fact that members have to work around their schedules as the club is an extracurricular.

That isn’t to say members haven’t been busy with Debut; members have been experiencing the ways of the fashion world alongside experienced artists and boutiques. They’ve taken part in events such as the Palo Alto Green Light Festival in which Janna and senior Megan Feroglia entered a documentary titled “Redefining Wires” and just recently decided to pair up with the Green Team to work on a new project.

“I want to encourage underclassmen students to… continue to work with the great people in Green Team later this year, focusing on an innovative, ‘greener’ fashion,” Janna said.

Another current event opened new doors into the industry for Debut. Apricot Lane, a clothing boutique in downtown Los Altos, offered members an opportunity to participate in a contest to create outfits for the mannequins placed in the windows. Senior Jennifer Helguera and sophomore Elise Hu joined Janna and Michelle to take part in the contest.

“It was the first year Apricot Lane held something like this [so] a lot of the logistics were figured out as we went along,” Janna said.

Although a club at Gunn High School initially planned on participating alongside Debut, they were ultimately disqualified, so the four members needed to change their original concepts to suit the extra window that they were given. It was already a tough enuogh task to translate their ideas from paper to reality for the first time without having to alter their original plans.

However, they managed to continue the contest once everything was settled and the students had their plans to work off of. Eight windows were decorated in total over the span of four weeks, with each team of two members in charge of a window each week. The members still worked independently to design and dress their mannequins in outfits they thought the consumers would be able to imagine themselves in.

“It was really rewarding when I saw this woman walk into the boutique asking for the reddish black sweater on the mannequin,” Elise said.

In addition to testing different outfits on the mannequins every week to see what looked best, Apricot Lane and Debut hosted photoshoots with a live model, often a friend or students from the school. Apricot Lane updated their Facebook page throughout the contest with the contest news.

When the contest ended, Debut members not only successfully pulled off their first window design event but received multiple opportunities to further explore the fashion industry. Elise emerged as the winner of the four members and the Los Altos Town Crier featured her win and experience with the contest. Michelle was offered a photography internship by the local boutique when her photographs caught the attention of the owner.

Due to their participation at the contest, Debut members had the chance to accompany the representatives of Apricot Lane to the San Francisco leg of the Contemporary Association of Los Angeles (CALA) Apparel Trade Show on February 4. Clothing vendors presented their new clothing and accessories at the trade show to several boutique businesses, who will then select clothing for the seasons to come.

“I think that it [is] a great experience to see what companies look for when selecting next season’s clothing and also get a peek into fashion marketing,” Elise said.

Trade shows, like the CALA Apparel Trade Show, remain closed to the public. Only company representatives and members of the press are allowed in. As the Debut members  the few high school students who attended, they were able to offer their opinions on pieces produced by design companies and businesses from a consumer point of view, and they will be able to help Apricot Lane choose their upcoming line.

“It is an extremely fortunate opportunity for us to have this insight into professional fashion industry,” Janna said. “For the average consumer, the buying process is not very easily explored.”

Even though this year has turned out extremely well for Debut, one of their biggest events has yet to be undertaken. Debut will be hosting a fashion show of their own creations later on in the year. Neither the venue nor the exact date for the show has been confirmed yet, but Janna hopes that it will be in the next few months. The show will be in collaboration with the outfits that the members make themselves and possibly clothing sponsored by Apricot Lane.

“There are two teams… each has a different theme and in those teams, every person is to design one to two pieces or outfits,” Debut member junior Amanda Choy said. “We are planning on actually making those outfits and once they come to life, we can have members model them.”

Although nothing can be certain in the future, Janna still hopes the next year will be even better. But as it is her senior year, Janna will no longer be the leading force behind the club and remains conflicted about the club’s future.

“While I do think it is a great accomplishment, I feel vulnerable when thinking of the future of the club,” Janna said.

But Debut members stay optimistic as the year goes on and maintain that Janna has done an exceptional job getting Debut up and off to a running start. With true passion for fashion, the students work together as a team to pursue their interests.

“It’s as if we individually play an important role in a fashion editorial team for a magazine like ‘Vogue Italia,’ except we’re just high schoolers with wild dreams and inspirations,” Amanda said.

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