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UNL design student focuses on inclusiveness in fashion

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Size inclusivity is increasingly embraced in fashion across all levels, from high priced items to basics.

UNL student Venn Jemkur now aims to create pieces that give women who wear them a special feel and stand out. She’s been working on her masters design project for over two years, which focuses on the troubling history of plus size fashion and how she hopes it will continue to change.

Jemkur also has a minor degree in Gender Studies, which she says allows her to examine fashion with a more critical eye when it comes to societal expectations.

Any day at the UNL School of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design, you can find Jemkur using the space. Often tucked away at the back of a classroom on a desk.

“Women mostly go between sizes, so you see someone wearing a size 14 from that realtor,” Jemkur said. “But in the other, it will be a size 16, so you know they fluctuate.”

Her collection, Fabulous Figure, highlights creations for plus size women; make pieces in sizes like 18 and 20.

Her research allowed her to follow 10 plus size fashion bloggers and examine the current fashion available in those categories.

“There’s this false narrative that’s, you know, propagated by the fashion industry that plus size women just like to cover up and look invisible, and that’s not the case,” Jemkur said.

Her designs use simple shapes with handmade embellishments, showing the stomach, shoulders and made from materials that stretch to flatter the body. They are often topped with intricate beads, a cut tool, and weaving strips of fabric.

“It looks like a basic design, but the surface of the design is so beautiful that you almost feel like it’s a work of art,” Jemkur said.

Jemkur said she got her start in fashion designing and hand-stitching outfits for her Barbies, and over the years the love and skill level has only grown.

She is in her third year of design school, which was recently on the chopping block in a budget discussion at UNL, but was spared.

“I can’t imagine being cut,” Jemkur said. “I’m really, really grateful that the department is still standing, and I hope it stays.”

She will graduate with a master’s degree in about two weeks, after which she will continue her doctoral studies.

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