Clarissa De Vasconcelos Matos

My thesis focuses on vegan fashion as an integrative form of art and activism, advocating for the end of animal exploitation in fashion and by extension, other industries at large. In addition to a practical commitment to sourcing materials not derived from animals, I seek to create work that explores the political, social, cultural, environmental, and economic themes of veganism, and integrating them with my love for animals and the beauty of the planet we inhabit. Fashion is important because it is fundamentally human: after all, we wear clothes everyday. It is an expression of who we are, and what we believe, both about ourselves and the community around us. Creating work with this crucial truth in mind, one can impact society, culture, and individual decisions by using the clothes we wear as a declaration to the world, thereby advocating for more ethical and moral choices, sparking conversations, and growing our collective human consciousness. My main purpose as a visual artist, fashion designer, and human person is to make compelling art that unites what we deem separate, to shed light on unconscious biases we may hold, and to make a positive contribution to our world, specifically with regards to making meaningful gains in the conversation between fashion and animal rights.  Through the lens of my various emotional, psychological, and spiritual experiences via life’s sufferings, my animal rights fashion thesis aims to impact the industry at the intersection of holistic vegan fashion, centering the flourishing of all life: human, animal, and of our planet itself. My focus is on three elements from nature: the Moon, the Sunflower, and the Tiger
The Moon, a feminine symbol, represents the cyclical rhythm of time, creation, life, emotions, mood and mind, and is also a personal symbol of mine, as the crescent moon shape mirrors the first letter of my name. In this way, it is a stand-in symbol for Self within my thesis, and by extension all humanity. The Sunflower symbolizes renewal, hope, optimism, honesty, and peace, and is a representation of our Planet and plant life. It’s also a symbol for sustainability and for a better, green future, as funnily enough, sunflowers are great at absorbing radioactive waste from the environment. Lastly, the Tiger symbolizes strength and courage, especially as a misunderstood and endangered species. It of course represents the Animal Kingdom, and also spiritually, the willpower to continue through great adversity. These three motifs are present within my collection as a metaphor for the Human, Plant, and Animal realms being in harmony with one another. By combining and working with these elements, I hope my audience is inspired to cultivate empathy, compassion, and companionship towards animals, and thus, reflecting on their place within our home. As sentient beings who suffer and experience pain, animals deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and I hope my work creates a space where people can self-examine the social responsibility we have as humans in charge of caring for our planet, and the animal neighbors we inhabit it with.


CLARISSA DE VASCONCELOS MATOS is a fashion designer, specifically a textile designer, and scholar student at Parsons School of Fashion Design in NYC. She is a BFA Fashion Design major student with a concentration in the Materiality pathway, and focuses on vegan and sustainable fashion.  

Clarissa was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and raised in Los Angeles, USA. She grew up as a visual artist, and is pursuing her education and career in fashion. While studying at Parsons, she studied abroad at Parsons Paris, where her genderless capsule collection won the Cerruti 1881 and The Woolmark Company competition. Clarissa has also worked for Anna Sui, Abercrombie & Fitch, Sketchers, Vaute Couture, Sony Pictures, and Fox Studios.

Her work focuses as an integrative form of art and activism. She seeks to examine the social responsibility given to those tasked with caring for our planet, Ourselves, and to cultivate empathy, compassion, and camaraderie towards all sentient beings in our home, those who suffer and experience pain, and who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, as we ourselves are.

Her goal is to convey this creative experience in her work, in the hopes of awakening people’s consciousness and raising questions on the nature of our current relationship with animals, our environment, and ourselves.