Source : Bobbie Crockett | uapbnews
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – As they prepare students to work in the fashion industry, instructors at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff are employing some of the latest technology and techniques. For example, an environmental test chamber looks like something straight out of science fiction: a large, stainless steel room with a digital recorder that documents temperature and humidity.
“Students can use the environmental chamber to test the fabrics that they use,” explained Dr. Kaye Crippen, UAPB associate professor of merchandising, textiles and design. The walk-in chamber is used to test materials under climate-controlled conditions.
“We give them individualized attention,” she said. “They do an internship. We (instructors) all have industry experience and that makes a big difference. We know how competitive it can be out there, and we want students to perform at a higher level.”
The industry offers graduates myriad opportunities, Crippen said. Merchandising includes retail, merchandising, marketing and sales positions at companies related to apparel, interior furnishings, textiles and other soft goods.
“The textiles would include some of the other positions in merchandising but also those related to research and development,” she said. “The big growth in that area is in the development of more sustainable materials, including some traditional fibers. Understanding textiles is important to fashion design because of the way the fabric drapes, how long it lasts, its luster, general appearance as well as how it feels next to your skin.”
Students may also explore many design-related careers, she said.
“Students interested in design could begin working for a company that designs and develops apparel, accessories, interior textile products or related soft goods product lines,” Crippen said. “Today most of these products are made off-shore so students need an understanding of the global supply chain.”
UAPB’s program offers a broad overview curriculum including a course on globalization of the apparel and textile industries, she said.
Before students can make their mark in the industry, they must build a strong foundation. As part of their classroom experience, students learn about industrial sewing equipment and techniques, pattern making, pattern drafting and pattern manipulation, said instructor Kalari Turner.
“I also teach them how to do knock offs,” she said, referring to replicas of designer fashions one might see actors wear on the red carpet. “They do them in knit fabric. If they can do it in knit fabric, they can apply it to a woven material.”
In addition to their classroom work, students go to market in Atlanta to see a fashion show for the season.
“We’ve gone to Fashion Group International of Dallas Career Day Style Symposium,” Turner said. “Students did a study abroad in Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. It helped them do trend research and it exposed them to international fashion and style.”
The aspiring designers and merchandisers have also gone to the USDA Southern Regional Research Laboratory in New Orleans for a regional professional meeting.
Turner said the goal is to not only teach students but give them opportunities to apply what they have learned.