Decked out in bright pink tulle, rocking embellished silk green knee highs, with her long blond hair pulled flawlessly into a high ponytail, Peytie Slater cuts confidently across a sea of Converse-clad students to get to class at UC Santa Barbara.

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The most remarkable element of her outfit, however, isn’t just the bright colors or clever embellishments. It’s that she made the outfit herself.


Art student Peytie Slater in London in June 2019, wearing an outfit she made while studying at Photo by Zoe Slater.

Slater, a second-year art major at, often wears her unique designs around campus in an effort to promote her self-made fashion brand True Violette, through which she seeks to send positive messages about self-expression.

“By wearing clothing that stands out, I hope to express to the other students that it’s okay to stand out and be yourself,” Slater said. “That’s the message I hope to send with my brand.”

Slater’s brand has acquired a considerable following since her 2015 debut on the popular Lifetime Network program Project Runway Junior. Slater earned third place overall in the show’s finale after getting to showcase her designs in New York during Fashion Week.

Her artwork continues to attract a large fan base, with more than 22,000 people following Slater’s Instagram devoted to True Violette .The link posted in her account bio redirects her followers to the brand website, where they can purchase one-of-a-kind pieces for prices ranging from $50 to $250.

Slater recalls the moment in her life that kick-started her passion for design and influenced her to emphasize positivity through her work.

“When I was in middle school, a popular shirt came around that read ‘You Can"t Sit With Us’ and all of the coolest girls were wearing it. My dilemma was that I wanted to wear the shirt to fit in with everyone else, but I didn"t want to promote such a negative message,” she recalls.

Instead, Slater decided to use some iron-on transfer paper and an old T-shirt and make her own slightly altered version with the slogan “You Can Sit With Us” in an identical font. “It took a lot of courage to walk into school that day, but then people started coming up to me and telling me how much they liked it. After that I realized how much greater it is to stand out, and I started expressing myself through my clothing,” she said.


That was not the only time Slater’s school experiences would influence her designs. Now a college art major, Slater says the art classes she attends at take her fashion in new directions.

“I get to learn so many different art techniques in school, which is great because then I get to be creative and think about how I can apply these different art mediums to fashion,” she said. “I took a graphic design class last quarter and learned how to make graphic prints, which I could then put onto fabric and make a dress or something out of it.”

Slater hopes that as her classes continue to impact her designs, her designs will continue to impact and empower her fellow students to express themselves through their own art.

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“I used to use my clothes to hide and blend in with the crowd, and now I use them to stand out,” she said. “Art helped me find myself.”

Molly Goldstein is a second year UC Santa Barbara student double majoring in Film and Media Studies and Communication.