As a second grader, Meredith Higgins kept a diary filled with sketches of future prom dresses and matching earrings. Now an IU junior, Higgins is finally bringing her designs to life.
Higgins, a 21-year-old fashion design major, said she has been passionate about fashion since she was a child. This past November, she was invited to a two-day learning event through Target. Higgins was the only student from IU invited to participate.
“It was good to know that my hard work was being recognized, and it was kind of paying off in the way that I didn’t expect it to,” Higgins said.
During the trip, Higgins toured Target headquarters, conducted mock interviews and shadowed a technical designer and a fashion designer.
“It was really cool to see how the things I’m learning in class relate to the real life stuff,” Higgins said.
In January, Higgins was invited to New York City as a winner of the Fashion Scholarship Fund along with nine other IU students. Higgins was one of the winners of the case study competition, where she created a collection and marketing scenario around Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation collaborating with Urban Outfitters. She won $5,000 for her work.
“I designed a whole collection for them, and I talked about their brand and what they stood for and all of the marketing stuff, and they liked it,” Higgins said. “The competition is anonymous, so they just choose the winners based off the actual work itself.”
Lori Frye, an IU lecturer in fashion design, said Higgins is good at assembling garments and communicating her ideas digitally through illustration.
“I think she has a nice balance of understanding both the technical and the creative, being able to not only convey that digitally, but also convey it in garment construction,” Frye said.
Frye said Higgins never saw herself as being creative, so winning the Fashion Scholarship Fund was a big confidence boost for her.
“In her first year, she was pretty good at the technical things,” Frye said. “What has been interesting is kind of watching her growbecause she has really built up her creative skill now to be very strong as well.”
Michal MacMorran, IU senior and fellow fashion design major, said she has seen Higgins' progress throughout their friendship over the past three years.
“She has good things going for her,” MacMorran said.
MacMorran said Higgins takes a technical approach to designing garments and makes sure she carefully measures everything.
“Meredith is 100% a really strong technical designer,” MacMorran said. “She pretty much has expertise in very tailored, well-fitting garments.”
Higgins is now working on her senior collection, which will debut at the IU Fashion Show in April. For the collection, each student creates four to six full outfits, designs mood and trend boards, illustrates the garments and then puts them together. Higgins’ work focuses on balance.
“It’s kind of about how opposite things in the world coexist in harmony,” Higgins said. “There’s a lot of dichotomy in things. I’m taking those concepts, and I’m doing masculine, feminine, hard, soft, texture, flowy and structured, so all of these opposite elements and making it into a cohesive collection.”
Higgins draws inspiration from many sources, but a big influence on her work are her rock history classes. She's even considering getting a certificate in the subject.
“Looking at those pictures of Mick Jagger, The Beatles, all of the oldies, I like classic styles, not necessarily vintage because to me that’s more eclectic,” Higgins said. “My style is very classic, simple, but still powerful.”
Higgins said she feels coming up with the concept is the hardest part of fashion design. She prefers the actual construction of the garment and getting it to look like how it looks in her head.
“Although it’s very grueling to make a mock-up and then fit it, and then it doesn’t fit, and then you fix it and it still doesn’t fit, and then finally it fits, I think the finished product is so rewarding because of the process that you went through,” Higgins said. “It’s totally worth it.”