Gabby Stone

Wheeling Park High School graduate Gabby Stone is making an impact in the fashion world and helping those with autism while still a college student.

 Stone graduated from Wheeling Park High School in 2020, and she is now a junior majoring in Design and Merchandising with an emphasis in design at West Virginia University. She ranked in the top 25 percent of 513 applicants vying for 127 scholarships worth $7,500 and free travel to networking opportunities in New York City.

Stone earned the scholarship by a doing a case study based on brand values for a sustainable clothing company called “For Days.” As part of her project, she developed ways increase the company’s impact by adding a clothing line specifically for people with autism.

 “There are not a lot of fashionable clothes out there for people with autism,” Stone said. “I also want to accommodate the shopping experience for individuals who have autism. A lot of times clothing that is suitable for people are either unattractive or expensive. I wanted to keep the cost down so the clothing would be affordable for those in need.”

 While her mother, who is an occupational therapist, helped her understand some of the challenges people with autism face, Stone also conducted interviews to better understand the major aspects of clothes and how the shopping experience that would need to be altered for a person who has autism.

 "I focused on the clothes and how elements like the garment seams, fabric choice, and the zippers and closings could be more user-friendly for individuals with autism,” Stone said.

 She designed shoes, pants, dresses and outerwear to offer complete looks. The project not only helped her learn about different views and experiences, she learned about making tech packets, production, fabric amounts, thread amounts, different notions and associated costs. With this experience and the scholarship award, Stone says she is better prepared to accept a recently offered summer internship in London, where she’ll design more garments.

 “I tried to be diverse in what I was designing, and I think it won because it’s something different,” Stone added.

 Stone has a lot to look forward to. On May 4, she will take part in a WVU Fashion Dress and Merchandising Show at Erickson Alumni Center. Her designs will be on display, and she will work as a backstage assistant manager. Next year, as a Mountaineer senior, she hopes to be named the top winner for the $25,000 Fashion Scholarship Fund. Upon graduation, she plans to move to The Big Apple.

 “I’m hoping to move to New York City and get a job there,” Stone said. “I’d like to get established and have a fashion career. The end goal is to open my own business. It like focus on alternative evening wear. That would involve more spunk, and it would have pop and gothic influence as well. I’m really excited about it.”