Elizabeth (Beth) Weigle is in a meeting with a girl from the Student Merchandising Association. It’s fashion week in Athens so there are many last minute preparations to be done before the production. She discusses the LED lights that they’re renting out for the show, and the trendy venue for the event; The Graduate Athens on N. Avenue. They communicate as friends, laughing and joking about the upcoming event. Weigle’s students say they love her friendliness, it’s the first thing that they mention about her after her oh-so-chic wardrobe.
Her style today is a sporty, yet professional look. Her hair is pulled back into a chic little ponytail like Karlie Kloss and her red dress with horizontal stripes and puckering at the shoulders resembles something you would see on the models in between shows at Fashion week. The dress is paired with fashion-forward black sneakers and a sweater tied loosely around her waist. Her past career as a vintage buyer can be seen in her wardrobe selection. Before going into instruction, she worked at the Agora Collective store in downtown Athens, now recognized under the name ‘Atomic’.
Weigle is a woman that can predict a fashion trend. She explains that it really comes down to what’s going on in the world. If you want to know the trends ahead of time you need to take everything into consideration. You need to look at politics, the mood, the zeitgeist, the current collections, the advancements in technology, and the new achievements in the world of art. “That can give you a feeling of where the pulse is, and where you think it might go” Weigle tells me.
This research takes place in her office, which like any creative space, has papers strewn about her desk. In between them sit a tall stack of Womens’s Wear Daily back issues. On the walls you see tears from various fashion magazines, and shelved, a collection of reference books that any fashion guru would be happy to have on their coffee table.
It’s so much more than her past in vintage buying that has taught Weigle to foresee trends. She credits much of her brand knowledge to research. The more you research historic dress, the more you can find and know what you have. A label like ‘William J’ might not mean anything to you until you watch the documentary on Bill Cunningham, which is precisely how Weigle learned to associate the two.
Talking to Weigle about Fashion is easy, because no matter what topic comes up, she has industry commentary on it. Take the recent weather absurdities and fluctuations in Athens as well as students’ inability to predict the weather and dress accordingly. Weigle brings up designer’s trend towards season-less dressing, and the promise of body-temperature controlled performance materials in the future, that will take the guesswork out of what the weather will be like. Other than not knowing how to dress for the weather, how well do students fare when it comes to their wardrobe on campus?
Beth says it has improved since she started teaching. The oversized t-shirts with yoga pants and neon tennis shoes uniform has been replaced with clothing resembling something a little more business casual. Weigle laughs at the neon trend that was so hot when she first started teaching. Any professor would appreciate a change in the direction of fashion when it means students look less like they rolled out of bed and more like they’re trying to impress.
“Athleisure has kind of hit a peak,” Beth says using typical fashion terminology of the leisurewear trend that’s flooded the nation, and the reasoning behind all the yoga pants and neon sneakers. With technology, it’s easier than ever to predict these trends Weigle explains, so no one has an excuse if they really want to know where the industry is headed. But what’s next for Weigle? Recently, she’s noticed the need for maternity wear, “It’s a very niche market that has a lot of room for growth,” says Beth.
“You’ve got maternity wear that in my opinion looks a little bit matronly, it looks a little too cheesy, and it’s just not fashionable enough” Beth says. She then explains that the maternity apparel that is trendy, and affordable, is bought up so fast that they are consistently sold out online. “You can see, just based on that, a need for more” Beth explains to me. When she’s not busy analyzing the trends of the fashion industry, or teaching about these trends, she just might work to develop a maternity line of her own.
By Caroline Elliott