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For Beyond the Front Row Students, Mixing Fashion and Community Fits Like a Glove

Members of Academy of Art University’s Beyond the Front Row use their flair for style to promote awareness of fashion through community service and special events.

These School of Fashion students have done it all: assisting with the Academy of Art University Graduation Fashion Show, donating clothing to St. Vincent de Paul Society, designing and launching a t-shirt design to be sold at 79 Gallery and more.

Most recently, the group was asked by the San Francisco chapter of the American Cancer Society to participate in the 2010 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on October 23. “Giving back to the community is a core part of our club’s mission,” said Gena Banducci, President of Beyond the Front Row. “The walk allowed our members to come together and raise awareness for a great cause.”

Beyond the Front Row Member – Deborah Metts

Member and Academy of Art University MFA Fashion student Deborah Metts took part in the event and found the vitality of the event galvanizing. “I had heard of the energy that often accompanied such American Cancer Society events, but nothing quite prepared me for the cheering survivors, pink-dyed dogs and blaring rock music that greeted me when I arrived,” she said.

Led by Fashion Merchandising instructor Hersha Steinbock with assistance from School of Fashion Public Relations and Special Projects Manager Edith Barker, Beyond the Front Row students make excellent use of their talents. Steinbock’s mentorship has been inspiring for the club’s members.

“My first semester I had a class with Hersha Steinbock and knew I had to try to get in all her classes!” Gena said. “She combines up-to-the-minute knowledge of the industry with experience and wit, which equals a very engaging environment.”

G2T1 Event Checkout

With a nod to sustainable fashion and community service, Beyond the Front Row organized the Give Two Take One event in San Francisco this Spring. Event attendees shopped through racks of clothes donated by Buffalo Exchange, She She Shoes, Gypsy Rosalie’s Wigs & Vintage, IndiDenim, IndiTailored, Laundry Locker, Merrell and their fellow attendees. For each two items of clothing donated, one could be taken.

All remaining items were donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco, who then used them in their annual Discarded to Divine Fashion Show to raise funds.

“The inspiration behind the event was to help out an organization, St. Vincent de Paul that does so much for our homeless community,” said Treasurer Heather McDonald. “We were all motivated to find a way to give back to those in need, and we also benefited with real life experiences.”

Academy of Art University students also volunteered in organizing the Lombardi Sports Fashion Show on November 11. The charity event collected canned foods for the San Francisco Food Bank.

As part of the set design team and styling for day of the show, member Brittany Abajian help set the scene for the theme of Avalanche. “A bunch of Academy students put our creative minds together to come up with an amazing set,” Brittany said. “We made mountains, used snowboards and skis for props, and of course, added glitter everywhere for an extra touch.”

No matter the event, members are well served by the opportunities to network with fellow emerging designers, stylists, fashion merchandisers and more. “The club allows members to take what they’re learning in the classroom and apply it firsthand,” said Gena. “Real-world experience is key, and Beyond the Front Row is dedicated to always keeping members fashionably busy and in-the-know.”


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