Carving a unique path in the world of fashion, Leo Weffer, a fashion and design major, credits Salt Lake Community College with playing a pivotal role in his journey.
Weffer, who graduates this spring, has spent most of his time at the Library Square Campus obtaining skills like sewing, millenary (hat making), and draping.
“I want to thank Professor Melissa Clark for getting me through draping and helping me develop my eye when looking at garments,” Weffer says. With this class, Weffer knew he was ready for outside projects, like making a custom wedding dress.
Weffer will put together his own fashion show this spring.
“[When] I finally got the skill I’ve been trying to understand, I can see opportunity in that skill,” he says. “I push through what’s hard and I can see that I am actually good at it. I am more energized than when I came in. I can take on the world.”
From an early age, Weffer realized the power of a first impression.
“In my last years of elementary school and middle school I wore uniforms, so when I got to high school, I had the freedom to express myself. I began experimenting with styles and finding myself. I mostly wore what I knew my friends would appreciate.”
By the end of his sophomore year, Weffer felt limited on clothes that reflected his personality.
“I was maturing, and I wanted to wear new clothes, but I didn’t have much money,” he says. “I started creating looks that were inspired from women’s wear. I would notice what made women look so put-together and find a similar feeling in men’s clothing and make up my own looks.”
Weffer purchased thrift store clothing and experimented with new styles.
“A lot of people knew me for my fashion sense, but I always felt that I couldn’t achieve my goal of looking how I ultimately wanted to look,” he says.
Weffer began designing clothing in his mind.
“The thing is, I would’ve started designing clothing at an early age, but society here [in Utah] made me feel that I couldn’t be successful or that I would be ostracized for picking a woman’s profession,” he says. “I found how to achieve what I love when I was 23 and since then I’ve liked every moment of my new lifestyle.”
Weffer believes in sustainability and creating things for a purpose.
“The underlying goal is that people value the articles of clothing they wear to the point where they want to have them for a lifetime,” he says.
Weffer believes in taking opportunities through networking and is a member of the fashion club working in social media and promotions. Once the face of a marketing campaign at SLCC, Weffer, wearing a hat of his creation, graced billboards, busses and digital ads with the word, “Undecided” scrawled on top. That word would make a huge impact on him.
While in Paris last summer, Weffer says the true meaning of that campaign came to him. From that point on, he began what he calls, “unfiltered deciding.” Weffer explains this as, “Deciding proactively and finding opportunity.”
Cherylene Rosenvall, professor of fashion and costume at SLCC, has been working with Weffer for two years and describes him as a gung-ho student with a lot of passion.
“He has a lot of big ideas,” she says with a smile. “He is really good at jumping in. I’ve watched him slowly find his path; he now has his groove.”
When speaking about her students, Rosenvall says, “My wish for them is to find who they are as a designer, to be able to speak it and design it. People will see his work and know that it’s Leo.”
“SLCC feels like a family. It has been so welcoming,” Weffer says as he reflects on his time at SLCC. “[It] Inspired me to have better thoughts about what I want. Overall, I have had such opportunity that I don’t think I would find elsewhere. There are extremely skilled people who really care to see you excel.”