Linnea Fong ’16 is trying something new for her senior collection. Pulling inspiration from human movement and an internship at Nike, she’s taking a break from eveningwear at this year’s Cornell Fashion Collective Runway Show and instead focusing on a sportswear line. The Sun had an opportunity to talk with her about her background, influences, collection and love of backpacks.
The Sun: How did you start designing?
Linnea Fong: I’ve been designing since I was a freshman in high school. I started sewing with the 4-H club in my town and I’ve always been interested in art. I took fine arts classes every year, but we didn’t have apparel design classes in my small town in Oregon. So I kept getting interested in that, and I would enter the state competitions through 4-H.
Sun: How did you find yourself at Cornell?
L.F.: When I was applying to colleges, I applied to all small liberal arts colleges, and the only fashion or art program I applied to was at Cornell. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I was accepted here. I had no top choice in schools until I got into Cornell, and I figured I might as well try it since I didn’t know what I would want to major in at any of the other schools. I’m really glad I decided to [come to Cornell] because I’m excited to go into this industry and I can’t see myself doing anything else.
Sun: Can you tell us about your collection for this year’s show?
L.F.: This year I’m doing a sportswear collection with a heavy emphasis on bags and backpacks. It’s casual lifestyle apparel. I have six backpacks in my collection and I have eight models. There’s a wide variety of things: a swimsuit, leggings, jacket, sports bra, joggers and backpacks.
Sun: Is there a specific reason that made you keen on designing a sportswear collection?
L.F.: I interned at Nike last summer, and I think that was a big factor. I hadn’t done a lot of sportswear before that, but shopping there and working with the fit models got me more interested in sportswear. I started wearing more sneakers and active apparel, and realized that was something I wanted to explore more. Whatever I’m more interested in wearing, I want to figure out how to construct those things. It’s kind of selfish — I design it so I can make it eventually. I think fashion is very selfish.
Sun: Can you elaborate more on the backpacks? That’s quite unique.
L.F.: If I see someone on campus and I like their backpack, I’ll go up and examine it, I’ll ask them what it is and where it’s from. I kind of have a backpack fetish right now. I’m always thinking, ‘Wow, I could totally make that,’ or I wonder how this pocket goes here, etcetera. A lot of it is a big experiment. I’m trying to test out all of these new things for my final year because I want to take advantage of the facilities and the program here. I don’t want to leave always wondering, ‘What if I tried something else?’
Sun: What motivates your designs, both in general and for this project?
L.F.: For this project, I was inspired by body movement and I started examining dyes in water. I tried to understand how that movement works in a sort of anti-gravity environment and all the forms and shapes that come out of that, and I wanted to translate that into apparel on moving bodies. I decided to take it into a sportswear direction this year because last year I did eveningwear, which is totally different. I think a lot of my designs are translated — they’re the same aesthetic — but I got tired of doing eveningwear and didn’t want to keep doing dresses. I go through phases, and now I want to try something new because I’ve never done sportswear before and I’ve never done menswear or backpacks before.
Sun: Do you have a greater philosophy for designing?
L.F.: Even if one person critiques your work and thinks one thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their opinion is the truth. Everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it. For me, nothing is necessarily wrong because I always think there’s some potential for any idea.
Tickets for the Cornell fashion Collective’s Annual Runway Show are still available online or from Collective members. The show will be held Saturday, March 12 in Bailey Hall.
Mike Sosnick is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.