Earlier this week, I shared what the Re-Fashioned show means to me. Now it's time to hear from two of the student designers, Mila Balice and Mika Thies, whose work will be seen at the Siebel Center for Design on Saturday, May 7th. Read about what they learned and what they are most excited for you to see. 


Smile Politely: What inspired you to take this course and participate in Re-Fashioned?

Mia Balice: I took this course because I have taken a handful of classes in the Fashion concentration before and just knew I would love Making Fashion just as much. The Re-Fashioned fashion show is something I just heard about this year, and I could not contain my excitement when I got my first piece approved to walk in it last semester.

Mika Thies: I have been sewing since I was little. All three of my grandmothers loves sewing and quilting and they wanted to share their hobby with me. Until I was about three or four, I wore mostly clothes made by my grandma and when I was old enough, I wanted to start making my own too. I took sewing classes when I was young and got my own sewing machine as well. When I got into high school, I kind of stopped for a while because I was involved in sports and extra curriculars, but towards the end, I started sewing again. Then when covid happened, I spent the time making clothes, sewing things that didn't fit into something new, and making bucket hats to pass the time. When I got back to school the next year, I wanted to see if there were any fashion classes I could take in the school of art+design, and so I took ARTS 320, experimental fashion and loved it. I then couldn't wait to continue with ARTS 420 and have been looking forward to the fashion show all year.

SP: What can you tell us about your project?

MB: Fast forward to this semester, and I have 6 of my designs walking down the runway this weekend! They are all completely different yet they all contain my design aesthetic in some way, which is a refined classic and elegant aesthetic.

MT: I have multiple projects that will be in the show, but one of my favorites was one where we learned about a certain color and then made an outfit which we felt portrayed us. I have always loved the color butter yellow, which I know a lot of people don't like the color yellow. I have also always loved flowers and had a ton of fake flowers in my room. I wanted to put a use to those fake flowers, and I used them in my outfit.

Digital concept drawings of yellow pant suits with various flower finishings.
Image by Mika Thies.

SP: How has this experience changed your understanding of the fashion industry and/or the future direction fashion is headed towards? Or more, broadly, what has this experience taught you about design?

MB: I have learned that this industry is a constantly evolving cycle. Something I may have designed months ago can feel super outdated today! It is important to stay on top of things and always to design with the future in mind, not what is currently "trendy".

MT: I feel like I have a better understanding of how the fashion industry operates. I only ever knew of the big-name fashion designers, but I have been learning about how there are smaller lines and designers, how fashion shows work , and all the creativity and work that goes behind the process.

SP: What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises/lessons learned?

MT: One of the biggest things I learned is being flexible. I like to make it look exactly how I want, but that can be hard to do with limited resources and time. It was fun and frustrating, and I have learned a lot of tricks with the sewing machines and what fabrics work together and so much more.

SP: What  are you most excited for people to experience at Re-Fashioned?

MB: I am most excited for people to see the originality that these students have given to their pieces, because each one is so unique to the designer, seriously not one piece looks remotely the same.

A variety of looks from the Re-Fashioned show styled on dress dummies in the classroom.
Photo by Mia Balice.

MT: I really like to design things for a purpose, rather than just for myself. I am excited for my friends and family to see what I have been working on and know how much work I have put in over these past two semesters.

SP: Anything else you want to share about your experience? The event? Or what Re-Fashion as a goal and practice means to you?

MT: I have always been interested in sustainability and I feel that Re Fashioned shows how sustainability can be fashionable and teach people about where their clothes are coming from.

Re-Fashioned 2022
May 7th, 6 p.m.
Siebel Center for Design
1208 S 4th St
Champaign

Top image by Mika Thies