Fashion Event Provides Unique Experience for Apparel Merchandising and Design Students

Margaret Stewart

Photos from the runway and backstage at The Fashion Event: Mod at the Auburn Arena Friday, April 20, 2018.

With music bumping and spotlights shining, Auburn University Apparel Merchandising and Design students’ fashions came to life at this year’s Fashion Event, held Friday at Auburn Arena.

“Our students are amazing,” said Jenny Leigh DuPuis, a graduate student and teaching assistant in Apparel Design, who helped students facilitate the event. “They are just amazing.”

Co-sponsored by the Apparel Merchandising and Design Association (AMDA) and the Department of Consumer and Design Sciences (CADS), and produced by the Fashion Event Planning and Management course, the annual CADS-AMDA Fashion Event displays student design work within the College of Human Sciences.

From local sponsors like The Mint Julep Boutique to Dillard’s department store, the Fashion Event brings high fashion to Auburn. This year a representative from IMG’s fashion branch, the producers of the prestigious New York Fashion Week, flew down from New York City to judge the show and meet the students behind the production.

The “Mod”-themed event for 2018 showcased a runway show as its main element, as well as visual merchandising vignettes for local businesses, student e-portfolios, and interior design projects.

The runway show featured designs selected from apparel design students’ submissions and presented teams’ Capstone course projects. Students whose designs were selected for the runway gave the audience a glimpse into the iconic fashion era of the 1960s, featuring brightly printed fabrics and retro silhouettes with modern flair and textures.

The Capstone class is a senior course in which student groups are challenged to create a collaborative “line extension” for established designers and brands. Each line extension must be a sellable and wearable collection that could be turned around and sold. This year, six Capstone line extensions walked the runway.

Even the DJ brought global fashion experience to the event. Andrew Thorp, otherwise known as DJ CoCo, works with some of the top designers in the world, assisting in runway show productions at fashion weeks in New York, Paris, Milan and London, just to name a few. “We are so humbled that he would come to Auburn,” said Karla Teel, an associate professor in Apparel Design and Production Management. “It’s another great opportunity for our students to work with someone successful in another aspect of our industry.”

Thorp has been a key player in giving the show a professional feel. Students suggest ideas for music to create the desired “mood,” and Thorp runs with it, coordinating the event’s theme with music mixes. Working with the students involved in the production is what keeps him coming back.

“I really like this event because the students who are doing their Capstones are going to be the next big designers in New York, Paris and London- I really believe that,” Thorp said. “They have a fresh attitude, and they are excited about what is to come.”

But it isn’t just this Fashion Event that sets Auburn University apparel merchandising and design students apart.

Students in the program must complete a rigorous internship program in which they seek out opportunities in their desired specialization within the fashion field. According to Teel, who also manages Apparel Design internships, this required experience counts for eight credit hours because students must complete 400 hours of work.

But arguably the most impressive factor is how the students are familiarized with all areas on the fashion industry spectrum in their curriculum.

“From the beginning in learning how polyester is made, or cotton is processed, to fabric sourcing, making patterns, different ways of cutting or manufacturing, determining cost, forecasting trends, retailing, learning what consumers want - our students learn about the entire process,” Teel said. “A lot of schools don’t do that. This makes our students much more marketable.”

Most companies only offer a few internship spots, and jobs are even more few and far between. This is often what sets Auburn students and graduates apart from other top fashion programs.

The Fashion Event only adds to their resume. Because it is a student-run production, they are able to learn the ins and outs of multiple facets integral to the fashion industry, such as public relations, event planning and design, fundraising, ticket sales - you name it.

“I was so impressed with the quality of the work that went down that runway,” said DuPuis. “The students blow me away every single day with their talent and dedication.”