• 04.21.10

Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Patagonia, and Otis Fashion Students Dress Us for 2030

Fifteen fashion students from the Otis College of Art and Design envisioned eco-friendly garments for 20 years from now.

Lee Yang designs

Cargo pants? So 2010! How about a cargo evening gown? A group of students from Otis College of Art and Design believe that kind of utilitarian, multi-functional fashion is what we’ll all be draping around our shoulders 20 years from now. Under the mentorship of Isabel and Ruben Toledo (designers best known for designing Michelle Obama’s inaugural attire) the students worked in partnership with outdoor clothing company Patagonia to imagine clothing made for our near future, with convertible features that give pieces the ultimate functionality.


Planning for our potentially nomadic, highly mobile lifestyles, where we’ll be toting our personal tech and communication gear alongside basic necessities, students first created a storage unit that converted into another wearable item. The second step was to use this convertible bag in a fashion ensemble that could go from day to evening. Producing durable, eco-savvy garments has been part of a philosophy embraced by companies like Patagonia and Nau, since multi-functionality is by definition more sustainable–only one piece would need to be manufactured and purchased instead of two.

Escobar Bliz

Otis fashion design seniors Edmund Escobar and Carina Bilz created a tent that can provide instant shelter from the elements–intense sun from global warming?–but also stuff into a chic carrying bag. They then multi-tasked the tent/bag into a long evening wrap over a vest and a pair of day-to-evening pants.

Lee Yang designs

Jennifer Lee and Mi Ji Yang looked to the fishing vest for inspiration in anticipation of a new definition of eating on the go–foraging for food from urban gardens. The vest converts into a multiple pocket bag and into a ballgown skirt for an evening out. Another concept starts with a utilitarian fishing bag that converts into a skirt with self-belt which can be paired with modern sleeveless, funnel neck top for night.

Lee Yang designs

An “evening vest” provides both red carpet-quality face-framing drama and the ability to convert into a duffle bag, eliminating the need for clunky handbags or messenger bags. The designs will get an opportunity to test their functionality during a big night out–prototypes will be modeled at a May 8 gala for the school.

Images provided by Edmund Escobar and Carina Bilz and Jennifer Lee and Mi Ji Yang, and reprinted with
permission by Otis College of Art and Design.

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.