Watch Now: A Designer’s Journey: From Comic Con to Landing in Lincoln | Local
Striding the runway at the Her Universe Fashion Show for Comic Con in San Diego, Adria Renee recalled her early days in elementary school, strutting down the school hallways.
Back then, Renee didn’t perform as confidently as she does today.
Wearing her mother’s old clothes and clothes from thrift stores wasn’t as accepted back then as it is now.
Being raised by a single mother also didn’t leave Renee much room for new school clothes.
“I kind of got ostracized for dressing up, so I ended up getting into fashion. I stayed true to myself and didn’t give in to pressure or bullying.”
While working at Old Navy during community college, she realized the power of fashion.
Renee spent her days at fellow Old Navy styling buddies and that’s when she began to realize just how much women tend to minimize their femininity.
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She had never thought of so much since becoming accustomed to hers through fashion at a young age.
But the feelings other women had about their femininity were the same as Renee had when it came to her own geekiness.
“I think as women, we tend to minimize ourselves because over time, people dampen our enthusiasm,” she said. “You don’t want to look too vain or too frivolous, so we tend to minimize our interests or our femininity.”
After community college, she majored in social sciences at San Diego State University, which qualified her to teach high school history, economics, and political science.
She also found a way to incorporate fashion into her lesson plans.
“In looking at rationing during World War II, I used actual clothing from that era to show how rationing was implemented and what we could learn about society at the time by looking at the clothing,” she said.
Being the first woman of color to win the Her Universe Fashion Show led her to pursue her Master of Arts in the Material Culture Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
UNL offered her an assistantship and Renee moved to the Midwest, which she describes as a bit of a culture shock, but in the best way possible.
Now in her final semester of the graduate program, the self-taught artist is working on her next line, which she calls “A Woman’s Place is in Resistance.”
The line focuses on women in fandom and fashion as a means of fan expression.
She plans to use Star Wars as a specific case study for her inspiration and how women use fashion to navigate fandom. Her designs will resemble some of her earlier geek couture work.
Taking to social media platforms and discussing favorite quotes, images and moments with her community is another part of her design process.
“You have to take up space to make space,” Renee says, and so she intends to honor women in fandom through this line.
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