Qiyao Xiong grew up with fashion alongside her mother, a clothing merchandiser in China. Xiong is a long way from home, but the Iowa State fashion program has kept her excited about her decision.
“I always thought watching my mom work was more than interesting," Xiong said. "I want to express my thoughts into clothes and apparel, too."
Xiong is a freshman in apparel, merchandising and designing. Starting about the time she was in the fourth grade, she began learning English, which led to her establishing a fascination with the United States.
“I wanted to see the American dream,” Xiong said.
In 2014, she moved from China to a high school in Oregon as an international student and said goodbye to all of her family and friends.
After high school, Xiong knew she wasn’t ready to leave the United States quite yet. She grew up watching her mother work in the fashion industry and decided she wanted to go to college in the United States to get a university experience unlike anything she could get in China.
“I went on to Google and typed in the best fashion universities in America, and Iowa State was the first link,” Xiong said.
She said she always has known that China is a huge contributor to the global fashion industry but she thinks the United States has something really unique to bring to the table.
“My mom influences my style in some cases," Xiong said. "She introduced me to big oversized T-shirts and ripped jeans, but other than that, she wears a very graceful style filled with dresses, and that’s not my go-to style at all."
Xiong said she loves her classes so far and is overwhelmed with all of the fashion around her. She explained that fashion in China is very different from how Americans express themselves.
Xiong said she noticed in China that fashion is a big deal, and everyone follows the same styles. She said she admires that Americans are not afraid to be different and show their own sense of direction.
“Here, everyone is very diverse," Xiong said. "I think it is because America is filled with people from all over the globe and from different backgrounds. All these people get to express themselves in literally any way they want to and it is very refreshing.”
Xiong's style represents her own individuality. She has green under-lying highlights in her hair because green is her favorite color and represents peace and nature — characteristics she wants to embody.
“My absolute favorite outfit and go-to look would be a unique top with a black overcoat and Dr. Martens boots," Xiong said. "I know this outfit works really great together, and let’s be honest, Dr. Martens are classics."