It was impossible to tell just by looking, but among the models at the presentation on Thursday were several nonprofessionals, including two alumnae of the Girls Who Code program, which aims to close the gender gap in technology through education.
Mijia Zhang, the creative director of PH5, and Wei Lin, the company’s founder, have been working with Girls Who Code to design a sweater with a special code on it. “As a brand, we have some influence, and we really want to bring a good influence to people,” Ms. Zhang said.
Most of the clothing that PH5 produces is made with a computer: Ms. Zhang works with programmers to code various stitches based on her vision, and a machine creates the pieces from there. “With knitwear you have to constantly program,” she said. “I think that’s something people aren’t aware of. You can be into computers and work in the fashion industry.”
At the PH5 presentation, Reshma Saujani, the founder and chief executive of the Girls Who Code program, was there to support its alumnae. “One of the things we tell our girls is we have to change the image of what a coder looks like and the industries where coders are most prominent,” Ms. Saujani said. “When you think of coding, you don’t necessarily think of knitwear.”
As a society, Ms. Saujani said, “we’ve told our girls that they’re not multidimensional. They’re either nerds or not nerds. We’ve taught our girls to hate math and science even if they love it.” She listed examples, like a girls’ T-shirt produced by Forever 21 with “Allergic to Algebra” printed on it and an “I’m Too Pretty to Do Homework” tee that J.C. Penney targeted at girls.
“You can be supersmart and have your hair done to the nines,” Ms. Saujani said. “We have to stop putting girls into boxes and see them for who they are.”
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