Student Jonnieann Soper Participates in Zero Waste Design Challenge
Fashion Design Student Jonnieann Soper is one of four FIDM Students selected to participate in this year’s Fibershed Zero Waste Design Challenge. Jonnieann, who lives in Oakland, California and grew up in nearby Napa County, created a blouse and pant from the 3.5 yards of Fibershed Certified Climate Beneficial™ wool fabric award, adhering to parameters of zero fallout design and longevity of use. After studying psychology at UC Berkeley and working as a behavioral therapist, Jonnieann had a “lightbulb moment” two years ago when she realized she could turn her passion for sewing and crafts into a living. A decade after receiving her first college degree, she applied to FIDM's Professional Designation program to pursue her fashion dreams. We caught up with Jonnieann to learn more about her unique journey.
Tell us about your creations for the Fibershed Design Challenge: The challenge was to create a zero waste design that would eventually use the Fibershed Climate Beneficial Wool in the final design. I was inspired by Madeleine Vionnet and her use of the bias cut as well as using small squares to create a patchwork design. I thought that making a garment zero waste could be simplified if you think about making the pattern pieces into smaller simple shapes such as squares and rectangles (then one can simply add darts and pleats to create something that contours to the body).
Originally I had only come up with the blouse design, but knew I needed a pant as well. I found a huge challenge in making a zero waste pant. I learned about Thayaht's TuTa and loved the idea of a wrap-around pant that could fit multiple sizes and body types due to the ease and the wraparound straps. I struggled for a long time with trying to make a pant that was both flattering and comfortable. After much trial and error I used multiple pleats on the back and front to give the pants a flattering shape without limiting the ease.
What is something you learned by participating in the Fibershed Design Challenge? I learned a lot about the lack of inclusivity in designs and sizing. Sizing has always seemed so arbitrary to me. I live with three other women and I really wanted to make something that could look flattering on different body types, as well as a body that is always in flux. You look at childrens’ clothes and they are often adjustable because of the way their bodies change. Well why isn't there more adjustable clothing for adults?
Why did you choose FIDM? I didn't want an AA or another BA. I really wanted to learn more about sewing, drafting, sketching, and Adobe. I also loved that the campus was so accessible to me. After going to a giant university with 500-plus class sizes, it was amazing to know my teachers and classmates as the talented people they are. There was a level of intimacy and support at FIDM San Francisco that I had never experienced before.
What are your career goals and how is FIDM helping you get there? Right now I am working on my entry for the Arts of Fashion competition. I am lucky enough to have been working part-time throughout this pandemic as a behavioral therapist. I really want to focus on improving my portfolio and skills. I also want to build up my brand and work at becoming a local independent designer. FIDM taught me some amazing skills that I could never have learned on my own.