by Nancy Fire
After 25 years as Founder and Creative Director at Design Works International, I love that I still get inspired by my colleagues as well as our clients. I’m excited now as I get to add students to my list of aspirational influences.
On Dec 2nd I was asked to review the final semester projects from the Fashion Management Class at Cornell because I started off the semester in late August talking to the students about industry and how macro trends in the world effect the fashion and home industry.
It all began last year when I was introduced to Tasha Lewis, PH.D. and Assistant Professor of the College of Human Ecology at Cornell in the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design. Professor Lewis asked me if I would consider mentoring the class because of my experience in the design industry. I told her that it would be my honor to be inspired by young talent! The students work in teams of 4 or 6 and each student has a specific job to cover.
The class is divided into teams consisting of the following:
- Merchandising Manager
- Color, Print & Textile
- Product Development and Design
- Production & Sourcing
- Buying, Planning and Distribution
- Brand Marketing and Visual
The Product Categories consist of:
- Women’s Woven Blouses
- Men’s Woven Bottoms
- Women’s Woven Tops
- Men’s Woven Tops
- Women’s Knit Tops
- Men’s Outerwear
- Women’s Outerwear
- Forever 21
- J. Crew
- Victoria Secret
The magic of this project is that the students really need to think “outside of the box” and present an entire “Style Deck” consisting of the following:
- Concept Board Reflecting the “Four P’s” for their brand. (Place, Promotion, Product, and Price)
- Competitor Analysis
- SWOT Analysis-Strength Opportunities Weakness Threat
- Color Story
- Product Line Sheet
- Environmental Score Sheet
- GANTT Chart-Bar Charts
- 6 Month Merchandise Plan
- Cost Sheet
- Pop-Up Concept
- It was necessary for each team to incorporate home products into their product assortment because of the influence of LifeStyle Brands today.
During the entire class, 7 teams presented their aesthetic vision and in the end I was pretty impressed with the outcome.
I think for me as a person in industry what struck me was the thought process that each team was challenged to provide with all the details that really happen “in the real world”.
I like completion as a designer and director, and I felt that most of the teams projects were well thought out, some were more evolved than others. As a special bonus at the end, 2 young men who are NOT even fashion majors at Cornell, (one in the Hotel School and the other in the ILR), actually presented samples from a business that they started at the beginning of the semester designing shorts.
It was inspiring to see a group of their peers give them actual feedback on how to improve their product…talk about a “real life focus group”.