UNL design student focuses on inclusivity in fashion

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 6:16 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Size inclusivity is becoming more and more embraced in fashion at all levels, from high-price items to the basics.

Venn Jemkur, a UNL student, is now making it her goal to create pieces that make the women wearing them feel special and stand out. She’s been working on her master’s design project for over two years, which focuses on the troubling history of plus-size fashion and how she hopes it will continue to change.

Jemkur also has a minor degree in gender studies, something she said allows her to look at fashion with a more critical eye when it comes to societal expectations.

On any given day at UNL’s School of Textile, Merchandising, and Fashion Design you can find Jemkur utilizing the space. Often tucked away in the back of a classroom at a work desk.

“Women mostly fit in-between sizes, so you see someone that wears a size 14 from this realtor,” Jemkur said. “But in the other, it’s gonna be a size 16, so you know they fluctuate.”

Her collection, Fabulous Figure, highlights designs for plus-size women; making pieces in sizes like 18 and 20.

Her research has her following 10 plus-size fashion bloggers and looking at current fashion available in those categories.

“There is this false narrative that is, you know, propagated by the fashion industry that plus-size women like to just cover up themselves and look invisible, and that’s not the case,” Jemkur said.

Her designs use simple shapes with hand-crafted embellishments., showing off midriff, shoulders, and fashioned out of materials that stretch to flatter the body. They’re often topped with intricated beading, slashed up tool, and weaving of strips of fabric.

“It looks like a basic design, but the surface of the design is like so beautiful that you almost feel like it’s a work of art,” Jemkur said.

Jemkur said she got her start in fashion from creating and hand-sewing outfits for her Barbies, and over the years the love and skill level has only grown.

She is in her third year in design school, which was recently on the chopping block in a UNL budget discussion, but was spared.

“I can’t imagine being cut,” Jemkur said. “I’m really, really grateful that the department is still standing, and I hope it keeps standing”

She will graduate with her master’s in about two weeks, after that she will continue on to pursue a Ph.D.

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