Fashion Forward


Anika Parvataneni

Within the Family & Consumer Science Department, students can take courses to learn about fashion merchandising or how to make clothes.

With many electives and courses to offer, Hinsdale Central’s fashion courses attract many students who ultimately want to pursue fashion or fashion merchandising as career options. 

Olivia Plumpe, senior, explains her experiences with the classes and breaks down some important things to note about the fashion industry as well. 

According to Plumpe, there are two branches of fashion available for exploration which are fashion merchandising and clothing construction, and both teach important skills. 

Mrs. Lisa Sopiarz, the fashion merchandising teacher, said she teaches lessons that are project-based, with topics including: sketching, advertising, buying, design, and much more. 

Mrs. April McPhilips, the clothing construction teacher, describes her class as having a much more sewing-focused syllabus which covers both basic sewing skills as well as the instruction in advanced fabrics and technical problems.

Plumpe attributes much of her focused passions to these classes, as sewing contributed to her stable background knowledge and solidified her love for fashion. 

She gives a special thanks to Fashion Merchandising since she said she hopes to pursue the business side of fashion in the future, and was able to predict trends in the foreseeable future such as the rise in supply and demand for sustainable fashion. 

With her knowledge and experiences, Plumpe aims to apply to a Big 10 school in the Midwest and split her focus between fashion merchandising and marketing. 

When asked about the number of students taking their classes with the intention of supporting a fashion focused future, Sopiarz and McPhilips estimated that about 20 percent and a third of their students engage in these courses for that purpose. 

“[Sewing is] like the time where my head can be quiet. So, I think a lot of students kind of find that the same way,” McPhilips said.

She said she believes that fashion has a different purpose and meaning to everyone.

“Fashion to me is a chance for individuality,” McPhilips said.

She herself found her love for fashion and sewing later through college, unsure exactly what motivated her to take those classes, and had no experience or interest in the field throughout her years during high school. 

Sopiarz on the other hand, was aware of her interests in fashion and actively pursued them in high school.

“Only one school offered fashion merchandising, so I got to be bussed out at the end of the day to take that class,” Sopiarz said.

Additionally, she immersed herself in real world experiences by working in retail for some time, surrounded by an inspiring environment which eventually helped her reach the decision to major in Fashion Merchandising at Eastern Illinois University. 

When Plumpe was asked a similar question about the timeline of her interest in fashion, she expressed her familiarity with it.

“Fashion has always been the main focus in my life,” Plumpe said.

She has actively participated in many fashion supporting experiences over the years. 

These include the aforementioned fashion courses, as well as photography, journalism, and yearbook, which helped her explore more of the artistic and press related side of fashion. 

An external experience that Plumpe said she feels really reinforced her dreams for fashion was a camp in New York, where she and her friends got the chance to immerse themselves in the industry by meeting with several workers such as designers, sellers, etc. 

Although a high school and external background isn’t necessary to pursue a future career in fashion, the students and teachers within the programs note that it certainly helps to lay a foundation as well as teach people unexpected nuances and life lessons.

To learn more about the course offerings, you can visit the program overview.