While some students are huddled in their dorm rooms studying away for upcoming exams, fashion design students are cutting and sewing designs onto dress forms in preparation for Project Funway. 

Project Funway is an annual fashion show put on since 2010 by Fresh Start, a transitional shelter and program for women experiencing homelessness. 

According to Monica Zinke, the executive director of Fresh Start, designers create garments for the runway show out of existing clothes that they thrifted or already had in their closet. 

“The theme every year is transformation because the designers have to transform a cast off item into a new piece of clothing,” Zinke said. “That theme was started because of the residents here at Fresh Start that are working to change their lives. They're working to transform their lives and move out of homelessness.”

This year's show, which will be held on Nov. 4 at the Lincoln Cornhusker Marriott Hotel, will be their second official show after the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Zinke said the show will be extensive as Fresh Start continues to rebuild. 

“We're really just getting everything back to normal,” Zinke said. “We have 35 designs this year. The Daisy Thrift Shop will have a pop-up store at the venue, as well.”

One of the Project Funway designers is Miranda Campbell, a senior at University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in textiles, merchandising, and fashion design. 

For her design, Campbell refashioned a pair of cargo shorts to be a crop top and used orange fabric scraps for the back. To give the look more femininity, she added orange lace to the base of the top. For the bottom half of the outfit, she refashioned a plaid button-up to be a skirt and deconstructed a thrifted skirt to add layers and depth. She also thrifted a pair of chunky sandals for her model to wear. 

“My design is ‘90s inspired, but I definitely have a lot of ‘60s and ‘70s color schemes with the oranges, the browns and the tans, which I think is really cool because everyone is referencing that time right now,” Campbell said. “Also, the chunky sandals are totally ‘90s, and my model will have a high, sleek ponytail.”

Campbell said the students’ main objective for the fashion project was not only to embrace the runway’s theme of transformation, but to also make quality clothing while staying environmentally conscious. 

“If thrift shops don’t sell these garments, then they will end up in a landfill some way or another,” Campbell said. “Our goal was to not only make this a garment someone will want for a long time, but also to make something that will withstand the wear for a long time. We had to really focus on quality construction.”

Another Project Funway designer named Said Rodriguez-Zarazua, a sophomore textiles, merchandising and fashion design major, took the sustainability theme and made it punk.

He took a pair of jeans he bought in high school and added distressed denim patches to give the garment a mummified look. For the top, he used a jean jacket that his mom bought in the ‘80s and added zippers so the sleeves could be removed to make a vest. He embellished the jacket with S’s and phrases like ‘“f*** you” written in Sharpie. 

Rodriguez-Zarazua will be modeling his own designs on the runway while sporting freshly dyed red hair. He said he plans on styling the outfit with a black turtleneck, pearls and black beat-up Dr. Martens shoes.

“The outfit is a very fun mixture,” Rodriguez-Zarazua said. “I really like the outfit's sense of contrapposto. There’s elegance underneath with a rough exterior.”

For Rodriguez-Zarazua, Project Funway is a way to show off his hard work, and he believes the runway show will put him one step closer to showing the world his fashion expertise. 

“I took the designs I’ve wanted to make since high school and I made them a reality,” Rodriguez-Zarazua said. “I get to show everyone what I like, what I made, what I do. This show is something I’m really excited for, and I’ve been counting down the days all week. I finally got to make something younger-Said wanted.”