Mai Tai Preece, a rising Junior at Otis College

MaiTae Preece is the second Otis Fashion Design student in as many years to receive the award

By Anna Raya

MaiTae Preece, a rising junior in Fashion Design, was recently named a recipient of a 2023 Gucci Changemakers Scholarship. She is one of only 12 granted this year and the second Otis College student in a row to take home the prestigious award. Gucci Changemakers provides scholarships to undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds with unmet financial needs who are interested in the fashion and design industry. Preece will receive an academic scholarship for $20,000 in addition to mentorship and virtual internship opportunities through Gucci America.

“Having my work recognized by Gucci Changemakers has tremendously boosted my appreciation and love for my work. I feel that as a student and young adult, taking steps toward a career path in fashion and art is so nerve-racking—having to be in new spaces, networking, and advocating for yourself as a creative person especially,” Preece says. “I am so thankful for this recognition, and for the Gucci Changemakers program for giving me new skills to approach my future endeavors and a newfound confidence in what I create.”

For her application, Preece submitted a portfolio in response to the prompt “Designing a Future Untold.” In her work—upcycled patchwork denim pieces; a headpiece centered around self-care and comfort that doubles as a sculpture when not being worn; a photo essay that showed the relationship between a father and son through hair and the stigma often attached to the hair of people of color—Preece’s viewpoints on sustainability, equity, and wellness are clear.

Jill Zeleznik, Chair of Fashion Design at Otis College, worked with Preece on her application, with support from the department. “This award is a stunning testament to MaiTae’s exceptional prowess and a dazzling affirmation of her unmatched skills,” Zeleznik says. “This generous scholarship will support transformative change by significantly contributing to her tuition, thus fostering an environment where her focus can be dedicated to her studies, and her aspirations can flourish without bounds.”

Last year, Antonio Finamore-Phillips (’23 BFA Fashion Design) received a 2022 Gucci Changemakers Scholarship. For his senior mentor project with GAP x Balenciaga under the guidance of Leonardo Lawson and Jonathan Kirby, Finamore-Phillips earned a special recognition during the annual fashion show at the O-Launch exhibition weekend in May 2023.

Preece and Finamore-Phillips are emblematic of the level of talent in the Fashion Design program at Otis. “These consecutive scholarship awards stand as irrefutable validation of the exceptional caliber and boundless potential nurtured within the program, casting a spotlight on the consistently-produced work, and underscoring the program’s unwavering commitment to cultivating first-generation students of exceptional talent,” says Zeleznik.

Visit Otis Fashion Design on Instagram, @OtisFashion, or online.

Below are images from Preece’s portfolio for the Gucci Changemakers Scholarship, courtesy of MaiTae Preece/Otis College Fashion Design.

Collage of work by Fashion Design student MaiTae-Preece