KATE WILKOFF, Winner of the 2012 Supima Design Competition


Supima is a brand that champions Pima cotton – a particular kind of cotton only grown in California and the Southwestern parts of the United States.  This cotton is particularly favorable, as opposed to Egyptian cotton, because of its “luster, strength, and superior softness” and is completely grown in the USA.

A design competition, modeled after the legendary 1954 Wool Secretariat competition, is helmed each year by Supima in order to provide runway exposure to emerging talents.  For the competition, four of America’s top design schools (PRATT, RISD, FIT and SCAD) were asked to select two finalists from among their graduating senior class. The finalists must then create a capsule collection utilizing Supima denims, knits, corduroys, twills, and shirting.  The runway show featuring the finalists’ capsule collections had subsequently taken place during New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, while a prestigious panel of judges carefully selected the winning collection.  The winning designer goes on to win $10,000 and valuable recognition in the industry.

Kate Wilkoff, Maryland native and recent graduate of Pratt Institute with a BA in Fashion Design, won the 2012 Supima Design Competition.  Check out her stunning capsule collection below!

Kate’s design aesthetic was to utilize simple, figure-flattering silhouettes that showcase unique textural details and fabric manipulations.  Nature and the natural processes of life also provided a veritable source of inspiration for the young designer.   For her winning capsule collection, Kate explained “[she] was inspired by the natural decay and deconstructive processes of architecture.  I took the color palette and textural qualities of rust and copper oxidation, and used them to transform the raw cotton fabrics.  I deconstructed both the jersey and corduroy fabrics to use as a continual thread throughout the collection.”

Pratt Institute proved to be the ideal and nurturing education that the young designer needed in order to hone her creativity and craft and eventually win the Supima Design Competition.  It was also only natural that Kate attended the school as her father (an architect) and her grandfather (industrial designer) are both Pratt alumni.  The non-competitive and supportive relationships between the students also allowed for a cultivating experience.  Kate explained, “It’s such a great environment to be surrounded by so many different and talented people.  Everyone is very supportive of each other’s work.  At Pratt, students learn how important it is to be dedicated to your craft.  You can tell when students are truly passionate about their work.”

As for any individual in any field, internships are an integral and transformative experience that could aid in determining an individual’s eventual career.  Kate offered some valuable insight and advice for interns everywhere:

My best advice on being an intern in the NY fashion industry is to know that what you get out of it is what you put into it.  If you show up on time, be nice to everyone you meet, and do your best at all the tasks given to you, you can really have an invaluable experience.  You don’t have to know everything off the bat, but a great attitude and a willingness to learn is essential.  And ask questions!  It also helps to have amazing, supportive supervisors and mentors like I did.

Kate plans to stay in the NYC area in hopes of obtaining a position in eveningwear, embroidery, or textile design.  Her ultimate goal is to eventually create her own clothing line in the future – a goal which we have no doubt she will achieve.

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