Renata Goossen, sophomore in horticulture, had an active background in agriculture growing up in Potwin, Kansas, especially in her county’s 4-H Youth Development program, but she also developed a passion for the apparel industry.
Upon entering college, Goossen decided to keep making clothes and apparel as a hobby, with horticulture as her career path. However, she has figured out a way to combine her two loves into one, and has been an active competitor in “Make It with Wool” competitions.
“I didn’t want to be an apparel and textiles major because I didn’t want to potentially end up disliking my career,” Goossen said. “Plus, when [you] think fashion, not many people associate it with Kansas.”
Make It with Wool competitions are fashion shows focused on making and modeling garments out of wool. These competitions are typically sponsored by members of the sheep industry to promote wool clothing, and they are held at the state and national level.
Over the weekend of Jan. 25 – 27, Goossen modeled her hand-sewn wool outfit in front of a panel of judges comprised of members of the American Sheep Association and professors from Louisiana State University for the annual Make It with Wool national competition. She competed against 27 other individuals and was a senior division winner.
“Judging is usually divided into two categories,” Goossen said. “Approximately 40 percent is based on the construction of your garments and 60 percent is based on fashionability.”
Goossen adds that the reason “fashionability” plays a larger role in the competition is because it goes hand-in-hand with marketability. The ambassadors, judges and the American Sheep Association want to ensure the wool is being used in inventive ways to bring more attention to the sheep and wool industry in the United States, Goossen said.
The competition also requires that all garments are comprised of at least 60 percent wool. Contestants must send swatches of their fabric materials into a lab located in Michigan for testing prior to the competition starting.
“Finding wool material can sometimes be a challenge,” Goossen said. “[Sometimes] places will label their fabrics as 100 percent wool, but it can have filler added to it and suddenly your garment isn’t made out of 60 percent wool.”
For this year’s national competition, Goossen designed a straight, A-line skirt, a mustard-yellow tie neck blouse, a maroon wide lapel coat and grey wool gloves.
“The gloves were the most challenging part,” Goossen said. “It was the first time I had attempted created gloves, and gladly, they turned out great!”
Goossen discussed more of the intricacies in creating wool apparel, such as the differences in natural dyes that can be used for changing fabric color.
“I have friends that are studying apparel and textiles,” Goossen said. “Last year, I had some friends who in one of their classes were assigned specific trees on the nature walk to harvest leaves and seed pods to use for naturally dying fabrics.”
Between classes, working in a theater costume shop and serving as a chairman for the Horticulture Club’s patio committee, Goossen will serve as an ambassador for the American Sheep Association next year.
Goossen plans to start a sewing class this summer that will be offered for Manhattan locals to improve their sewing skills.