It may not occur to most people that this year’s college graduates stand at the leading edge of fashion design. In fact, as parents drop their children off at a specialty summer camp, they may not realize that their child is helping decide next season’s wearable trends. The next generation has an incredible amount of technology at their creative disposal. Today, we connect with two fashion design programs offering unparalleled access to digital technology and advanced design instruction. Justin LeBlanc, professor at North Carolina State University and runner up on Project Runway All Stars, discusses how his students are pushing innovation in the fashion world, and Rob Younkers, co-founder of STITCHED youth fashion camp, shares the incredible talent he discovers in his young designers.

Justin LeBlanc, faculty advisor of the Art2Wear Fashion Show at NC State
Justin LeBlanc, professor at NCSU and runner up on Project Runway All Stars. Photo by Alex Craig

Technology is always pushing new trends as it allows the creative experimentation process to become faster, easier, and more accessible.

LeBlanc just added another successful iteration of Art2Wear (A2W) fashion to his name, so we inquired how technology and fashion are playing together on the runway today.

“Art2Wear (A2W) is an educational event where students gain experience by coordinating and producing a fashion show,” shared LeBlanc. “Young designers are challenged to imagine, create, and inspire by expressing their personal perspectives through wearable art.”

The A2W fashion show fuses the talents from several departments in NC State’s College of Design and beyond, exposing student designers to the broader field of fashion through the usage of advanced dressmaking and current technologies ranging from couture designs to 3D printing.

“The Art2Wear designers continue to surprise me every year through the innovative ways they use technology while creating their garments. There have been an increasing number of students who have been exploring laser cutting, 3D printing, and engineered print design. Through use of these technologies, the designers continue to challenge the norm of wearable art,” shared LeBlanc, “the opportunity to use digital printing has opened a whole new chapter for the designers. The ability to create their own print designs adds another dimension to the design process. It allows the designers to stay true to their visions and allow experimentation that wasn’t feasible in the past.”

Meghan Shea designed original fabrics using Spoonflower for the 2016 A2W Fashion Show
Photo by Alex Craig

The A2W fashion show fuses the talents from several departments in NC State’s College of Design and beyond, exposing student designers to the broader field of fashion through the usage of advanced dressmaking and current technologies ranging from couture designs to 3D printing.  

“There are so many technologies on the horizon. One example is 3D printing. Ten years ago, 3D printing was solely use for engineering purposes to build parts for machines. Who would have fathomed that 3D printing would have revolutionized the fashion world? With that said, anything is possible,” adds LeBlanc.

Some examples of original print designs created in this year’s Art2Wear collections include Angele Grey, Meghan Shea (below), Leeza Regensburger, and Grace Hallman.

Looks designed by Meghan Shea
Garments created with Spoonflower’s Organic Cotton Knit and sponsored by our Emerging Designer Grant. Photo by Alpha Production Group

The fourth iteration of STITCHED begins on July 25th. The kids’ fashion camp located in the Hamptons, New York has grown each year, but the organizers have insisted on maintaining a max camper number of 18 (yes, there is a waiting list) so that each individual gets the time, attention and materials they need to be successful.

“Since the camp began, the Spoonflower project has been the highlight of entire camp experience,” shared Co-founder Rob Younkers, “Kids love process of creating their own prints, and when their designs arrive in the mail as fabric, they’re so excited to make garments.”


This year the camp organizers are switching it up with new projects and thinking about sustainability, approaching old projects from a new angle. STITCHED campers, ranging in age from 7-17, are always creatively inspired by technology.

“Some campers have built an archive of Spoonflower designs over the years. Some kids want to draw and create a design, some use photography as the foundation of their art, along with Photoshopping the images. There’s so much originality when campers design a print,” said Younkers.

“When they start sewing the garments, each camper has a different point of view, and it’s amazing to see how that’s changed over the years,” added Megan Lesser, one of the organizers of STITCHED.

Stitched fashion camp

“It’s really about creation from every angle. We’ve never sourced pre-existing designs. The campers work from scratch and Spoonflower has allowed that. The camp is such a hands-on experience, and it sits in this intersection where “old fashioned” meets cutting-edge technology. Because of access to Spoonflower, the campers are challenged to think innovatively,” concludes Younkers.

During STITCHED, each camper learns learns everything about clothing design from start to finish––from pattern-making to construction to garment finishing. At the end of camp, each camper comes away with professional photos for their portfolio. Some of the campers return year after year and we see many of them getting interested in design as career.

Stitched fashion camp

Spoonflower is excited to support members of our community who are active or retired US military, first responders and nurses, teachers and students through our partnership.

If you fall under one of these groups, click “Verify with” at checkout for 15% off your order!