Brown Meets RISD: An Insider Look into Fashion from the Rhode Island School of Design
April 30, 2018

By Mandana Vakil

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Kasia Hope is a sophomore studying textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design. From Warsaw, Poland, her passion for art brought her to Providence over a year ago. Here, she delved into the world of textiles, knits and yarns. In a conversation with her, I learned more about her commitment to fashion and apparel design.

What made you choose RISD?

While applying to colleges, I was choosing between studying psychology and a various array of arts. In the end, I realized that I would be happier committing myself to art in the long term. I am interested in psychology, but art is what I have been passionate about my whole life.

So, what are you studying?

I’m in textiles. A lot of people don’t really know what textiles are. They often ask if it is fashion design. It can be – a lot of people go into knitwork – but that doesn’t encompass its entirety. [Textiles] is about the fibers themselves. As sophomores, we start from the base up: we learn about fibers, wool, we make yarn and knits, and so on.

What’s nice about textiles is that it’s so versatile; it spans so many different fields. It can be fine arts, sculptural work, tapestry work. It can also be design – not only fashion design, but also designing patterns and technologies. Some textiles majors work with NASA to create completely new materials.

How would you describe your style?

My style has radically changed since I got to RISD. I would say it’s slightly eclectic – much more carefree than my style before I got here. I like a lot of oversized clothing and combining gender neutral and typically masculine clothing. However, it does vary from day to day.

You mentioned that your style has evolved. Do you think you’ve grown more into who you are, or do you think that your change in style is more a reflection of your growth as a person?

I’d say both. Being here, at RISD, and being surrounded by so many different people, you are naturally inspired by the people around you. Nevertheless, I would also say that it is a reflection of me being more comfortable with myself – not being afraid of being judged by other people for my fashion choices. Obviously, I still get insecure, but I think over time I have seen myself change in this way and it has been very empowering.

Do you have an inspiration, a role model?

I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently and it’s been so hard for me to pinpoint. So many different people in my life have been important to me in different ways, ranging from my family – my mom in particular – to artists that I look up to, to people that I see on the street in passing. It's hard to pinpoint who is the most important.

I’d say that in general, I am most inspired by my friends and peers here, at RISD – simply talking to people because everyone has such an interesting perspective during critique or even in casual conversation standing in line for coffee.

Have you designed anything on your own?

Yes, I have. I wish I had done it more in high school because in retrospect I definitely had more time. I have sketchbooks filled with different ideas for the future and they are all constantly bubbling. I’m currently working on a project whenever I have the time.

Wow, I hope to see those sometime in the future! Any dreams and hopes you have that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?

Well, I am open to where life will take me. Right now, the hope is that I will work with designers I look up to on the vision of our generation. One day, however, having my own brand – that has been a dream for a long time! We’ll see where life goes, though. One project at a time.