Fashion display recognizes cultures

International Women’s Week event featured ethnic dress with feminine garments from across world



The Fashion Culture Showcase includes dresses made by apparel, merchandising, design and textiles students, on Wednesday at the Terrell Library.

SARINA SHARPE, reporter and columnist

Textile and apparel students designed clothes for a new culturally conscious exhibit, which premiered Wednesday as part of International Women’s Week.

The Fashion as Culture Showcase displayed clothing from several different cultures in different places around the globe at the Holland and Terrell Libraries.

Valerie Ho, programming chair for the International Students’ Council, helped organize with Carol Salusso, associate professor in the AMDT department, and others.

Ho said one of the main goals of the fashion showcase is to recognize the international students on WSU’s campus. International students make up 7 percent of students at WSU, and Ho said representing them and their cultures is an important task.

“It also supports our council and the different minority groups on campus, as well,” she said.

Women’s fashion is where the most interesting parts of different cultures lie, Salusso said, and where the cultural differences can be seen clearest. The women’s garments showcased were meant for special occasions.

Salusso began making her own clothes at 9 years old and found that it was the perfect form of self-expression. She said she felt enabled to express the different versions of herself that existed. The various fashion showcases that Salusso helped set up were a way to honor the multiple versions of women around the world.

The Fashion as Culture Showcase is a collaborative annual event. Throughout the week, several groups contribute to International Women’s Week. This year, there were events and exhibitions put on by the Women*s Center, the International Center and community groups, among others.

Ho said the showcase became possible when international students brought some of their clothes from home to WSU and allowed the International Center to add them to the showcase. It was easy to set up the exhibit using clothing rather than international foods, she said.

“Fashion is more eye-catching, I believe,” Ho said. “Because we have mannequins here, a lot of people just pass by and they [see] that piece of clothing there is from Vietnam — it’s bright yellow. It catches attention.”

Ho described the event as a “chill” way for students to check out some non-Western clothes. She said that the event is a good way for students who do not get exposure to different cultures to take a step forward.

“The majority of students here [at WSU] are from Washington State or they’re not really exposed to different cultures,” Ho said. “A lot of American friends that I personally have don’t even have study abroad experience, so they’re pretty confused with what different cultures are.”

One of the highlights of the showcase for Ho was students’ interest in the different items of clothing they passed by on their way to class. She said students taking a few minutes out of their busy schedules to engage in other cultures is what makes her the happiest about this event.

Fashion is an expression of self, Salusso said. It is a way to show the most important aspects of a person’s life through what they put on their bodies and a way to respect oneself that retail Western fashion does not quite manage to capture.