UGA student expresses creativity through fashion design | Arts & Culture

It is not often that people are walking around wearing clothes they made for themselves, but this isn’t the case for Lillian Maple, a junior fashion merchandising major at the University of Georgia.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have picked up a new hobby like gardening or knitting. Maple took a more unique route by teaching herself to make garments. Using an old sewing machine, she learned basic techniques from her mom who she said likes to make pillowcases and curtains.

“I’ve always been super into clothes and shopping. That was always my thing when I was younger. I would never let my mom dress me. I was super picky about my clothes and I’d wear the weirdest stuff,” Maple said.

Standing out from others is what Maple said inspires her. If she sees something that is trendy or similar to other people, she will ask herself how she can style it differently or uniquely tailor it.

Lillian Maple (2)

An unfinished dress hanging on a mannequin on Feb. 23, 2022 in Athens, Georgia. Lillian Maple, a UGA fashion merchandising student, designed and is sewing the piece of clothing. (Photo/Aynur Rauf; [email protected])

Before creating her clothing, Maple likes to take inspiration from brands. She also finds ideas through her other interests like listening to music. Last fall, Maple found herself coming up with ideas based on music from Grimes, a Canadian musician.

“There were a couple songs in particular that I was super into and would just play on repeat whenever I was designing. Instead of [the clothes] being for myself, it was for the girl in the song that I was picturing,” Maple said.

Making the outfit is the easier part, according to Maple who said the process involves a large amount of trial and error. Although it may be time consuming, Maple greatly enjoys every step.

When Maple first posted a picture of a top she made, many of her friends reached out asking how much it was. She wasn’t intending on selling anything, but after seeing the interest, Maple said, “I was like ‘Oh wow. I have to do what?’ People want my stuff.”

Today, Maple sells clothes through Instagram where anyone can direct message her to buy them.

Anna Kate Goodwin, a friend of Maple and a junior psychology major at UGA, said Maple lights up whenever she talks about her work. At vintage shops, Goodwin said she can spot incredible finds.

“She expresses her love of color and fabrics through her sense of fashion. Lillian has the best eye,” Goodwin said.

Ryleigh Holloway, a sophomore health promotion major at UGA, models Maple’s pieces when she needs someone to showcase her art, such as in the UGA Fashion Design Student Association’s fall 2021 fashion show, which she designed two dresses for.

“Working with Lillian is always exciting because she makes sure I am comfortable and confident in the pieces she puts me in. If she sees an area that needs critiquing, she will give me tips to optimize the look she’s going for. Lillian’s fashion is much like mine: girly and fabulous,” Holloway said.

Lillian Maple (3)

Lillian Maple’s completed pieces of clothing on a rack on Feb. 23, 2022 in Athens, Georgia. Maple is a UGA fashion merchandising student that designs and sew her own clothing. (Photo/Aynur Rauf; [email protected])

Maple currently works as a sales representative for MINKPINK, a women’s clothing line sold at stores like Nordstrom and Revolve. Every couple weeks she goes to Atlanta to work market weeks at the wholesale showroom AmericasMart. While Maple wants to continue working wholesale, she hopes to eventually delve more into the marketing side.

“Being on the wholesale brand representative side is really cool because you get to see the retail perspective, the buyer perspective and also the manufacturing supply chain and corporate brand perspective. You kind of get to be involved in the whole thing,” Maple said.

As a freshman, Maple was set on pursuing journalism, saying that writing was her “thing.” When a professor told her if she wanted to pursue fashion, she needed to commit to the fashion merchandising major, she did it even though she was nervous.

Nervous no more, Maple is now preparing herself for a career by participating in campus organizations like Rouge Magazine and the Student Merchandising Association — and of course, by continuing to make clothes.

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