Ra Thomson is a menswear designer from New Zealand who, in 2015, developed and launched a brand-new menswear program at Shih Chien University, the leading fashion institute in Taiwan. His aim was to create an innovative course to inspire students and, meanwhile, provide them with practical skills and the needed knowledge.
The Jean project reinvents selvedge denim
Thomson’s love for denim is no secret. “My fashion career started in denim; I was making ultra-wide rave jeans in the mid-’90s, and it just grew from there”, he said.
The Jean project is hence one of the favorites of the teacher and his students alike. They are tasked with drafting, cutting, and sewing a pair of 5-pocket blue jeans using selvedge denim. They have to think about all the details and the finishing treatments of the garment to take a classic style and make it fresh.
“I want to excite my students, provide them professional technical skills, and most importantly have them leave class wearing their own work; nothing teaches you about fashion like wearing your own designs”, explained Thomson.
“I encourage students to source quality”
The materials used by the students are sourced from real-world suppliers so they can learn about fabrics, their construction, and their history. Thomson chose our denim to make his students experience quality and sustainability. American & Efird provided the thread, and YKK provided the zippers and hardware.
“There are so many unknowns as a fashion student, a lot of info around suppliers and manufacturers feels locked away; I see students buying materials from their local store with no knowledge of where, how, or what it’s made of and I want to break those ideas, encourage students to source quality, question where things come from and what it’s made from”, said Thomson.
The project ended with an exhibit of the students’ works, who shared what they learned with the rest of the university.