The Boyz are Back


Elena Jiao

Aidan Shiller, the lifelong fashion addict, David Wild and Mark Colbran, the more recent converts, compose what we know today as the renowned FSAD Boyz. As a male minority in a female majority -- the gender makeup of the Cornell fashion program is representatively the inverse of the international fashion industry -- the squad ‘FSAD Boyz’ came about in a mix of solidarity and humor. This segregation spontaneously brought about many difficulties, including homosexual stereotyping and gender norms, but particularly in properly expressing ideas.

Shiller explains the challenges: "It's difficult for clubs that we're involved with that are related to the department, but also to the course load. Everything has pretty much female fashion in mind.” Shiller explains when the department is working on projects, “it's hard to connect your personal interest in menswear, when you're having to do female clothing." The Boyz found their outlet in this year’s collection.

In SZN 2, the Boyz collaboratively designed over 150 sketches, ultimately narrowing down to the six designs in this collection. Rather than making minor adjustments throughout the creative process, such as changing a color or a stitch, each design is concrete and thoroughly thought-out in advance. The painstaking critiques and meticulous crafting bring us the SZN 2 collection showcased at the Cornell Fashion Collective 32nd Annual Fashion show.

Consisting of four looks in menswear and two in womenswear, this year’s FSAD Boyz collection focuses on exploring the lines between mass-produced apparel and couture. This is manifested in the approach of purchasing apparel items from second hand stores, deconstructing and reconstructing them to create something more. Colbran remarks, “The whole process was just freedom and fun, and not being limited to a garment-shape that should fit in a certain box or category. Using materials we’ve never used, imagining things, and the struggles of figur[ing] out how to make them happen -- this experimentation was what drove the physical creation of the collection.”

The ‘Shoekini’, favored by Colbran and Wild, exemplifies the struggles and adaptation in trial and error. Converting rigid men’s shoe leather to match the form-fitting stretch of conventional swimsuits required the trio to be innovative in their material manipulation. Whether they used a car to run over the shoes to flatten, soaked them in boiling water to soften, or experimented with different machines that could handle thick leather, the Boyz exhausted every idea imaginable.This exploration of eccentric methods brought about the beautifully crafted, well-fitted leather bikini exhibited this year.

SZN 2 comprises the conventional play between material and fashion. Rather than a specific idea for the audience to leave with, the floor is instead left open for thought. The collection focuses on the positive energy of experimentation and enjoyment, as well as grasping the attention of the audience and, as a result, exchanging feedback and ideas.  “Fashion is serious, but there’s time to have fun,” explained Wild. “The point of the collection was to have fun; we didn’t want our models to be stern about everything, we wanted them to have fun too--a fun for everybody.”

Although the Boyz are pursuing their own independent projects and design works, there is no doubt a SZN3 to look forward to. While Colbran and Wild will be designing abroad from Paris and London, respectively, Shiller will be studying in Ithaca, making it work. “While it’s important to be able to take critique from others”, advise the Boyz, “never let anyone stop you until you get arrested -- make as much noise as you can.” We hear them loud and clear.