Although many designers work toward lessening fashion’s carbon footprint, up-and-coming designer Delaney Beem innovates with eco-fashion, which puts her at the forefront of this movement. This Gallatin sophomore became passionate about fashion design after learning about the Gallatin fashion show during her freshman year. She took a chance, sent her portfolio to the 2016 fashion show board and was immediately accepted to have her work featured. This first step jump-started her career and passion for fashion.
Even without technical training, her passion and motivation for fashion design grew significantly before her 2016 fashion show debut. She taught herself how to sew — using a borrowed machine from Gallatin — by watching YouTube videos and enlisting the help of her aunt and grandma. Beem said the Gallatin fashion show helped her experience both the independence and responsibility that a designer has, and during the process, she fell in love with design.
“[Creating a collection] was a lot of trial and error,” Beem said. “But, I really like knowing how things are made, and now, since I’ve been designing, I even look at my own designs and flip them inside out to look at the seams. I like seeing how everything is being put together.”
Since the 2016 Gallatin fashion show, she has shifted her concentration in Gallatin from art and business to fashion and business. Through her studies, she began learning how to set herself apart from the other designers and their clothing, something she found important in this competitive field. Along with her fashion business classes, she began taking others on sustainability and environmental design — she wants to marry the two disciplines together and promote her environmental activism through her clothing. She said that growing up in Idaho helped ignite her love for nature, so the environment has always been at the heart of her art.
“In my art, I’ve always tried to incorporate things that would represent [Idaho],” Beem said. “Whether that be in the fabric, the shape or the pattern of the clothes.”
As the theme of nature influences her career as a designer, Beem now focuses on reducing her own carbon footprint during the clothes manufacturing process — a large problem within the fashion industry that has made headlines. Its negative impact on the environment mainly comes from textile waste, water waste and chemical pollution. Therefore, Beem tries to promote repurposing old materials and giving them life through her designs.
In her latest collection for the 2017 Gallatin fashion show, all materials except for the thread were recycled. She gathered fabrics and trims from various thrift stores, cut them up and sewed them back together — Beem thinks clothing waste is one of the biggest issues that companies neglect.
“Even for other designers, if they are using environmental design or materials, it doesn’t address the problems with waste,” Beem said. “Consumers are so disconnected with the huge impact of fashion and aren’t holding themselves or major companies accountable.”
In her collection for the 2017 Gallatin fashion show, Beem began heavily integrating nature to craft an immediately recognizable style — most of her looks were interpretations of animals in nature. One of her favorite pieces in the show involved dressing her friend Jeremiah Jarret as a drag queen bee. Jarret stood out as he strutted down the runway in a show-stopping black and gold jumpsuit. She sewed on yellow fabric to the back of the suit, which acted as his wings.
“I wanted to capture Jerry’s playful spirit as well as a regal bee,” Beem said, “So a lot of my styling choices, like his beehive wig, were an attempt to merge these two inspirations in a fun, but elegant way.
She said this experience was one of the most fun and challenging tasks she’s had in her short design career. Although she had never designed for a man prior to this, Beem’s willingness to tackle this challenge and versatility as a designer showed her immense dedication, even as a relatively inexperienced designer.
So, what can we expect from Beem in the future?
“At the moment I would love to have a company that makes one-of-a-kind products that are made sustainably and easily recycled after use,” Beem said.
Her main goal is to use her brand to raise awareness for environmental and social issues, while collaborating with institutions that work to fix these problems. During her time at NYU, however, she wants to continue exploring environmentally friendly production methods and develop her design abilities.
“I want to experiment with a collection made out of plants,” Beem said. “I am playing with the idea of live floral embellishments, plant accessories/jewelry or some kind of textile made of moss.”
As she currently brainstorms how to bring these designs to fruition, you can anticipate seeing the finished product at the 2018 Gallatin fashion show. Her ideas are certainly green, grand and innovative, born from her singular perspective and hope to create a lasting impact.
“I like making things that are unique,” Beem said. “I find [what I’m doing] can be more influential than art.”
Email Michaela Hoffman at [email protected]