Fashion-Forward Fulbright Scholar Bethany Meuleners

Bethany Meuleners Fall 2010 at NY Fashion Week.  Photo by Randy Brooke.  

Bethany Meuleners, 2010 Academy of Art University Fashion and Knitwear Design alumna, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to spend 10 months in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal to study traditional apparel crafts with local artisans, and research how these techniques may be incorporated into global fashion while remaining sustainable for the artisans and beneficial to their economy.


“I strongly believe that the apparel crafts of Nepal will find a place within modern fashion and that the techniques used can be applied in ways that are sustainable and maintain cultural integrity.  I’ve always wanted to visit Nepal, a developing nation rich in apparel crafts and the perfect place to focus my Fulbright studies and research.”

“Too often, the smaller, developing countries are not recognized as important contributors to fashion.  In many cases, they are seen as inexpensive resources for production and overlooked for the artistic and cultural impact they could and actually have on the industry.  The net effect of globalization in the fashion industry should not be to dilute and do away with the cultural richness of developing countries, rather, the focus should be to incorporate them into the industry and celebrate their techniques in a meaningful way.”
Bethany Meuleners Fall 2010 at NY Fashion Week.  Photo by Randy Brooke.
As part of her Fulbright Scholarship, Bethany will be working with the Felt Industries Association of Nepal, the Handi-Crafts Design Centre, the Women’s Entrepreneurs Cooperative, and affiliate organizations for introductions to the local artisan communities, local industry and trade.  Upon completion in the summer of 2011, Bethany plans to create a textile and clothing collection that is culturally relevant, fashion-forward, and upholds sustainable and socially responsible practices.
Bethany Meuleners Fall 2010 at NY Fashion Week.  Photo by Randy Brooke.
Born on the West Point U.S. army Base in New York, Bethany has lived in California, Nebraska, Virginia and Germany.  She now considers Northern Virginia ‘home’, where her family settled.  Before pursuing her MFA in Fashion and Knitwear Design at Academy of Art University, Bethany received a BS with honors for a dual degree in Apparel Design and Fashion Merchandising from the University of Delaware in 2005.  In addition to graduating Magna Cum Laude, she studies costume design in London and International Marketing Management in Peru.  In fact, it was the latter that inspired her to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship.
Bethany Meuleners Fall 2010 at NY Fashion Week.  Photo by Randy Brooke.
“In January 2005, I was in a small weaving village outside of Cusco, Peru where I was receiving one-on-one instruction from a woman who had been weaving her whole life.  I had been in Peru for just three weeks, traveling and visiting with organizations and communities to learn more about and understand the impact of business and globalization upon societies and cultures;  yet it was in this moment with her that I saw the bigger picture of globalization – it affects every industry, including fashion and has an immense impact on the cultures involved.  It was this experience that led me to apply for a Fulbright in design.”
Bethany Meuleners Fall 2010 at NY Fashion Week.  Photo by Randy Brooke.
In February 2010, Bethany debuted her collection during the Academy of Art University fashion show at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week.  She recently launched be.sa, a San Francisco-based label with fellow alumna, Sabah Mansoor Hussain.
Bethany Meuleners Fall 2010 at NY Fashion Week.  Photo by Randy Brooke.
Bethany Meuleners collection can be seen at a fashion show at The Barber Lounge, 854 Folsom Street, San Francisco, this Saturday, August 14th, 2010.  She is showing her collection along with other local designers.  Ticket cost is $20 presale and $25 at the door and includes food and wine by Three Clicks and Muirwood Kitchen and Catering.  Call (415) 934-0411 for presale tickets.
Bethany Meuleners and model at NY Fashion Week.  Photo by Randy Brooke.