Fashion Does More Than Just Make a Statement

Monday, April 25, 2016 | 8:08 pm

If you’ve ever thought the fashion industry is superficial, think again. Fashion is art and art can be a tool of expression. Artists channel their feelings and draw on their world experiences to shape something tangible.

Using the arts of fashion and beauty, Freedom & Fashion creates empowering programs that mentor, love, and bring freedom to at-risk young women and survivors of the sex trade. They host a 14-week mentorship program that helps young girls express themselves through fashion.

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“[Freedom & Fashion] makes you happy and feel unique – it gives you the means to say what you want to say,” said Mariah Hottell, a mentor and hair stylist.


The Freedom & Fashion show featured three designers and their seven original works all created in just 14 weeks, there was also a dancer performance and raffle. During the show guests painted and drew cards with words of encouragement that were placed in envelopes and later given to the designers.

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“It’s really fun and [the mentorship program is] something I look forward to every week,” said Taylor, one of the designers who lives at Aviva group home. The program paris working fashion designers with young girls to help them make their creative visions come to life.

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“I’m a closed off person and art is a way for me to show it out, not just talk it out – it lets me express myself,” said Taylor. She has a history of self-harm and now hopes to use art and fashion as a new way to express herself.


Her story parallels that of many young women who have gone through the program. As one mentor, Chris Parker, explained – Freedom & Fashion helps these young women heal emotionally and reaffirms their worth. Fashion is a tangible outlet for their feelings and this fashion show is the cumulation of their perseverance and hard work.

“These girls are often taught to fit in but the fashion world is open to them – it allows them to have a voice,” said Dana Shorten, who works at Aviva group home.

Freedom & Fashion celebrates the perseverance and creativity of young women and shows that anything is possible. The organization hopes to bring this innovative and inspiring program to Bangladesh and create an international partnership between young women.

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