Fashion Design Instructor
The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University
One of my favorite assignments is when students create designs for a local, upscale boutique for the chance to actually sell it there. Kathie Taylor , Fashion Design Instructor , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University
In my career as a journalist and in the fashion industry, I understood that communication was the common thread between my love for each fields. Both fashion and journalism seek to communicate what is taking place in the world at the moment. They are both powerful expressions of the times, and a reflection of our need to create constant change.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I often use examples of my experiences in the classroom – both good and bad. It’s my way of preparing my students better than I was prepared to start out in the industry. Students need to know, now more than ever, the realities of working in fashion, so any opportunity I have to impart that knowledge, I use.
How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?
This industry is very competitive. And a great way to challenge students is to give them some healthy competition in the classroom. One of my favorite assignments is when students create designs for a local, upscale boutique for the chance to actually sell it there. Prior to the visit, they research the store to better understand what would sell in that store. When we take the trip to the boutique we meet with the owner who sits with each student and briefly reviews their designs, lets them know if they are on target and gives them advice on how to improve. They then take that input, update their designs and then pattern and sew the garments. The boutique owner then visits our classroom to see the outcome of the projects and decides which one will be featured in his store for sale. The garment gets displayed in the store with a placard that describes the collaboration between The Art Institute of California—San Diego and the boutique. It is a very rewarding and real life experience for students.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
This is the synergy I love about The Art Institute of California—San Diego. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), which is only a fashion school. Our fashion students at Ai often collaborate with other students on projects, particularly those in photography and graphic design. And even occasionally with our culinary baking and pastry students. It’s a win, win for all as it teaches how different perspectives can contribute to something unique and new.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
I often tell students to be patient with themselves, push your creativity and don’t give up. Fashion is a constantly changing industry–there is always room for more. Persistence pays off.
As a designer, I established my own line of women’s non-traditional suits, under the label ARTICLES, that was picked up by Nordstrom’s Savvy Department buyers in Los Angeles, San Diego and local boutiques.
After receiving contracts as a freelance designer for manufacturers on the east and west coasts, I established a clothing label, JONZ, which was showcased at The Fashion Group International's (FGI) annual Style Awards show. My unique belts and handbags have also made celebrity television appearances, and can been seen in editorials for WWD and Vogue Magazine.
In addition, my artful designs have also been showcased in local museums. I have even costumed theatre productions of Peter Pan & Wendy and The Laramie Project.