The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Denim Day fashion show brings awareness to sexual assault

Sia DeyKoontz
The Kat Walk models walk in the Denim Day Fashion show in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Wednesday, April 24.

The halls of the Doudna Fine Arts Center were transformed into a runway of empowerment and advocacy as the Denim Day fashion show took center stage on Wednesday night.

This event was a vibrant celebration of solidarity and support for survivors in relation to any form of sexual violence. This event displayed not only the enhancement of denim garments but carefully exhibited the concept of advocacy within fashion.

The show featured models from various fashion and modeling registered student organizations such as Couture Fashion, M.A.D. Fashion and the Kat Walk. Various campus and community members, including university President Jay Gatrell, participated in the event.

The event coincided with Denim Day, an annual campaign to bring awareness to sexual assault.

Denim Day originated in Italy after the Italian Supreme Court overturned the rape conviction of a bus driver who allegedly raped a young woman. The woman was wearing tight jeans, and the court inferred that she assisted the assailant in pulling them off.

The following day, female members of the Italian parliament wore jeans in solidarity with the victim, according to the Denim Day organization’s website. The first Denim Day took place in 1999 and has been recognized in several U.S. states.

Alexis Johnson and Olivia Lane, public relations majors, were behind the marketing campaign of the event. Approximately 300 tickets were sold in addition to 50 VIP tickets.

The social media campaign aimed to spark conversations and raise awareness about sexual assault victims.

Johnson, Lane and other individuals shared insights into the creative process behind Denim Day on social media, forming photos highlighting the importance of the creators’ stories and the inspiration behind their pieces.

The team aimed to shed light on the diverse perspectives and experiences represented in the denim designs, amplifying voices that are often marginalized, Johnson said.

Johnson emphasized the importance of getting students to speak up about their experiences, challenging the stigma and silence surrounding these harsh conflicts. However, she mentioned the challenges her team has faced when promoting the show across campus.

“We experienced challenges in regards to creating daily engaging content and captions that would appeal to those on campus and beyond,” Johnson said.

The event featured vendors, cocktails and resources for victims of sexual assault.

Getting professional support and finding a supportive community were themes Johnson and Lane stressed as well.

“I think going to therapy and getting help for it is the best avenue and finding a community of people who support you,” Johnson said.

“If you are someone who knows someone that has been through it, just be there to support them,” Lane said.

Tei Kupferer walks the Denim Day Fashion show wearing Hands Designed by Taylor Cloud in Doudna Fine Arts Center (Sia DeyKoontz)

Executive Director of Prevail Illinois Eileen Gebbie was one of the speakers during the show and helped run the organization’s table at the event. Prevail Illinois is an advocacy organization that provides free counseling and resources for victims of sexual assault in the Mattoon and Charleston area and the surrounding counties.

“At any time in their lives, if somebody has been sexually assaulted, they can come to us for free counseling, free advocacy, and then we do prevention services as well,” Gebbie said.

The show featured various outfits made by fashion design students of different styles and colors of denim. The outfit styles were inspired by various styles such as country, grunge and hip-hop. Several of the outfits were made by the models themselves.

The fashion showcased at the event carried powerful messages. Designs featuring slogans like “My body, my choice” and “Every touch has an effect” resonated with attendees, sparking reflections on consent and autonomy.

Tei Kupferer, a music education major, was one of the models in the show. Her outfit was titled “Hands,” which featured hand-made paintings of hands in places where people are unwantedly touched. She became interested in joining the show after researching Denim Day.

“I met my designer, and she was super sweet, and I was like, ‘This is really fun,’” Kupferer said.

Katherine Wellen, a VIP audience member, shared her impressions of the event, highlighting the generosity and thoughtfulness extended to VIP attendees.

“The aspect of coupons to local shops, one free drink while attending and prime seating elevated my experience,” Wellen said.

The show lasted approximately 45 minutes and was sponsored by businesses in the region as well as various individuals of the university.

One of the main goals of Denim Day was for attendees to carry a deeper understanding of the importance of supporting survivors of sexual assault and challenging societal norms as they left the event.

Looking ahead, with the support of Eastern, the organizers hope to expand the reach and impact of future Denim Day fashion shows by involving more organizations, recruiting more models and hosting longer events.

By continuing to leverage fashion as a platform for social change, they aim to spark meaningful dialogue and create a more compassionate and supportive community for all.


The News Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jacob Hamm
Jacob Hamm, Reporter
Jacob Hamm is a junior journalism major and can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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