Student’s design talent lands him summer TV gig

WIU Student Chris Taylor "Duct Tape" Design Segment on KHQA-TV

Chris Taylor, a senior fashion merchandising major in Western Illinois University’s Department of Dietetics, Fashion Merchandising and Hospitality, is bringing his creativity and love of design to the viewers of KHQA-TV (Channel 7) every Friday morning through this August.

For Chris Taylor, his love of fashion and design began at the early age of “6 or 7,” he says, with an auspicious task (assigned by his mom) that involved a stack of old clothes and some Barbie dolls.

Today, at 26, Taylor, a senior fashion merchandising major in Western Illinois University’s Department of Dietetics, Fashion Merchandising and Hospitality (DFMH), is bringing his creativity and love of design to the viewers of KHQA-TV, a Quincy (IL)-based station, every Friday morning through this August.

Taylor—whose designs are frequently based on using “reconsumed” (used), common household, and/or vintage materials (check out his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ReConsumed4U)—has been appearing on the station’s 5-7 a.m. news show since mid-May in a segment that focuses on “saving on style.” (Taylor said his segments typically air in three segments from 5:30-7 a.m.).

Videos of Taylors segments (so far) can be viewed on KHQA-TV’s YouTube channel.

Taylor took some time out of his busy summer designing schedule to answer a few questions about his background and his love of design, fashion, and making “old” things “new” again.

Q). What interested you in fashion and design before you started attending WIU and majoring in fashion merchandising?

I think it all started when I was about 6 or 7. We had a neighbor with a little girl that was a good friend of my parents. Our moms would take turns watching each of us, and she would tote around all her Barbies back and forth to our house. One day my mom needed a project to keep us busy. She gave us a stack of old clothes, and we decided to make clothes for her Barbies.

While I was in high school I took a job working for the Gap. I realized that I had a passion for fashion—working in fashion retail was more fun than work. I took a few years after high school to work and realized that I had hit a ceiling in my career and felt that I needed to do something different. I packed up and moved from Southern California to Quincy. My mother had shared the cost of living with me here, and it was a no-brainer. I didn’t quite know what I would do when I got here, but I soon decided. I earned my associates in science from JWCC [John Wood Community College]. I decided to continue and earn my bachelor’s degree. Knowing my background, my counselor suggested the fashion merchandising program at WIU.

Q). What kinds of projects do you produce/have you produced as a student in the DFMH dept. at WIU? Any favorites?

Every class has required a project. Each class’s projects vary in form, but all focus on topics related to fashion. Some of my favorites include: creating a trend board, creating a business plan, researching a fashion mart, analyzing the quality aspects of a textile product, constructing a garment, and building multiple visual displays.

Q). Where you do you draw your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from everywhere, but most of it comes from being CHEAP! I have always loved thrifting because it’s unpredictable; you never know what you are going to find. I refuse to pay full price for anything, and that has driven me to be creative in all aspects of interior furnishings and apparel.

Taylor’s Facebook page, “Reconsumed4U by Chris Taylor,” features photos of the design projects he undertakes, and he provides instructions about how to create similar designs. This t-shirt design project has a custom logo that Taylor applied with a stencil and spray paint.

Q). What interested you in working with “reconsumed” materials?

I have always loved repurposing things and updating them. Since I was young we have shopped thrift stores. I suffered a back injury last year and had some time on my hands, but little extra money. I really needed a creative outlet that would allow me to be product but that cost little-to-no money.

Q). You seem to like to work with a variety of materials and work on a variety of different types of projects. What is your favorite medium?

I can’t say that I have one “favorite” medium. To narrow it down, I will say that with paint or fabric can change anything! Mastering the use of the tools (sewing machines, staple guns, brushes, etc.) that manipulate different media can really encourage creativity.

Q). How did you first appear on KHQA’s morning show (how did the opportunity come about)?

In my visual merchandising class, we were put into groups to construct displays created out of recycled material. Because of some injury-related things, I could not be in class the week of creating the project. I volunteered to work from home and create our outfit and left everyone else to create the background display. After putting our components together I shared a photo with KHQA on Facebook. About a month later, a newscaster emailed me and asked to talk with the creator of the dress. She also wanted to see any other projects that I had made. After my first appearance, I was asked to come back again.

I have always been someone who has taken every opportunity by the horns and guided it in my direction. I talked with a few people and worked out a trial segment that focuses on saving on style that will air during every Friday’s broadcast through August.

Q). What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I had always hoped that upon graduation I would become a visual merchandiser for a large retailer. After my injury, this does not look like it will be a possibility. I am staying positive and researching other options within my field.

Q). Anything else you’d like to highlight (that I didn’t ask you about above)?

The most important thing you can do in school is to really try at every project you are asked to complete, even if you aren’t particularly enthusiastic about. These projects will teach you interpersonal skills that are irreplaceable!

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