Creating change through textiles and crafts

Seven individuals pose on a red carpet, wearing hand crafted looks that were showcased at Omaha Fashion Week.
Ritu Jadwani (center) with the six handcrafted looks she showcased at Omaha Fashion Week. (Credit: Omaha Fashion Week)

Creating change through textiles and crafts

17 Mar 2023     By Ritu Jadwani - Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design

Students in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln showcased their designs at Omaha Fashion Week on Feb. 23 - 24. The show was held at the Omaha Design Center to provide a platform for the Spring collection showcase. 

“Omaha Fashion Week is a rewarding opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students in our programs,” said Sandra Starkey, assistant professor and advisor for the show. “At UNL Night, students experience first-hand what goes into producing a high caliber fashion event and presenting original apparel designs at a prestigious runway show. This experience directly connects to our programs in merchandising, textile and apparel design and fashion communications.” 

Ritu Jadwani, a doctoral student in merchandising showcased a sustainable ethical collection in the emerging designer category. Jadwani supports women in India through her initiative Namaste NYC, which works with women who are physically disabled, victims of domestic violence and abuse to help them become financially independent. The initiative partners to train the women in sewing and hand embroidery to sustain the traditional crafts and textiles of the Gujarat, Western India. All the women are paid fair wages to create handcrafted one of a kind ethical accessory like scarves, clothing, trinket accessories and handbags. Namaste NYC collaborates with diverse artisans from various communities to support the crafts and create inclusive communities and unique products.  In her research at At Nebraska, Jadwani works with refugee women to understand the challenges they face in entrepreneurship and help rural students in entrepreneurship skills. 

The collection showcased at Omaha Fashion Week consists of hand block printed natural dyed fabrics using the special technique of “Ajrakh,”done in Gujarat, Western India. Some garments were also hand woven using the double ikkat technique practiced in Southern India. Tunics, dresses, wrap tunic, skirts and shrugs were adorned with scarves and Indian styling to signify the blend between modern and traditional, to create contemporary looks. The accessories were hand stitched, hand embroidered by skilled artisans to match the apparel range. The collection was prepared to promote the local crafts and textiles of India and support artisans and women in the region. 

Showcasing the crafts and textile of India at Omaha Fashion Week, to help women and artisans back home is a dream come true for me,” Jadwani said. I am grateful to my advisors at TMFD, UNL, and Omaha Fashion Week for this opportunity. My goal is to work towards the upliftment of underrepresented women, locally and globally for the betterment of the society and community. 

College of Education and Human Sciences
Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design

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