UT student breaks into fashion design industry through work for F1

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Aaron Berecka

Ross Bennet, Designer of the Grid Girls uniform for Austin’s Formula One, spoke to senior undergrads in UT’s Fashion Design program. He spoke of his time at the universtity as well the inspirations behind his latest collections.

Taylor Hampton

Ross Bennett came to UT with the intention to become the next Bennett at his father’s law firm, but redesigned his future after taking a course in fashion design.

Ross Bennett, a local Austin designer and textiles and apparel senior, began his design career at UT in 2002. He left UT in 2006 and returned in 2008, but after entering his designs in the Dallas Career Fair he was sought by the Texas State Fair to design an organic eco-friendly line. Opportunities in the fashion design profession led him to become a contestant on Fashion Star, an NBC fashion design reality TV show. This put his name into the industry and he was asked to design the grid girl uniform for the Circuit of Americas Formula One Race in November.

Bennett creates custom garments using fabrics made from natural fibers. He said his clientele consists mainly socialites that want an original dress.

“When they can say it was made for me, they feel special,” Bennett said. “It’s all about having this individuality, custom piece, one of a kind experience that’s what I deal with.”

He showcased his designs in the textile and apparel independent studies course Thursday evening. He said the most important thing for a designer is to stay true to their brand when they design their collections. He has a tattoo of a needle with red thread on his left hand ring finger as a reminder. He said the red thread means consistency throughout the brand.

“Identify your style and stick to it. It might change a little. Adapt, but stay with it because that is your identity,” Bennett said.

Ockhee Bego, Bennett’s fashion design lecturer, said it gives her great pleasure to teach Bennett because they communicate well.

“He and I understand very well the business aspect, to the artistic aspect, to the technical things,” Bego said.

English junior Ali Bass, Bennett’s assistant, said the job entails something new and different every day.

“[Bennett] is a ball of energy, and he has a million ideas and he’s all over the place, yet somehow he is so driven that he gets it all done,” Bass said.

Bennett will debut his Fall 2013 Resort collection in January, and will travel to four cities by March to exhibit the designs. He is also working on a luggage collection that will be launched in the spring. Bennett is also looking to open a factory on the east side of Austin so he can have complete control of the production of the garments.

Printed on Friday, December 7, 2012 as: UT student breaks into fashion industry