Student-Developed Clothing Line Debuts on Campus Runways

Student-Developed Clothing Line Debuts on Campus Runways
Apparel merchandising students Judi Guevara and Erin Schagunn cut clothing patterns.

Who ever said you had to be near the design showrooms and runways of New York to learn the ins and outs of the fashion industry?

Students in the university?s Apparel Merchandising & Management (AMM) program have proven otherwise with a recently completed line of casual loungewear. Across campus and in the surrounding community students are wearing comfortable Cal Poly Pomona shirts, shorts and pants bearing the AM2 clothing tag.

“This is an exciting adventure that offers our students a hands-on learning opportunity,” says Betty Tracy, chair of AMM. “Apparel Merchandising & Management students have the unique distinction of being in the only university program that allows them to create their own product line and label. It is for students, by students.”

True to the university?s learn-by-doing philosophy, students in the apparel product development simulation class are responsible for developing the AM2 clothing line from concept to distribution. They prepare for this project through a series of courses that expose them to concept design, computer illustration, pattern making, fashion themes and colors, purchasing, marketing, product development solutions and quality assurance. The courses are taught at the Apparel Technology & Research Center on campus, which houses a model apparel manufacturing facility.

“Creating the AM2 line is about tying all of the classes together and bringing reality into the classrooms,” says Cindy Regan, associate professor. “It brings them that much closer to the industry, so when they go out for their first job they know what product development is all about.”

After designs are approved, garments are manufactured at a local company that donates services to AMM. The clothing is then shipped back to the university and sold at the Bronco Bookstore and ApparelScapes, a mini-shop run by retailing students located at the AGRIscapes Farm Store. Students continue to track inventory and make recommendations for reorders or changes for the following line.

The program?s growing success has garnered support from industry professionals as well.

Last year, American Apparel in Los Angeles manufactured the clothing and hired two interns to oversee production of the AM2 line. One, alumna Koffajuah Toeque, says creating the line was an experience that will definitely help her better understand pattern making.

“It was very professional,” she says. “We were given a deadline and made sure we had a quality product.”

Target Corp. recently donated $3,000 to AMM, which will be used to renovate classroom space, fund scholarships and support ApparelScapes.

“Target has been a strong supporter of the apparel program as we produce students educated to succeed in apparel management positions,” says Tracy. “The AMM program is unique in the state and the support of Target and other apparel industry businesses indicates the importance of sustaining such a valuable program closely related to the economy of California.”

The AM2 program began two years ago with the support of the AMM advisory board. Students are now developing the third clothing line. Proceeds from the clothing sales help to pay for fabric and other program costs, but AMM professors would eventually like to use the money to create a student scholarship program.

For students like Toeque, seeing others wear the clothes she creates fills her with a sense of accomplishment.

“Many people do not know a lot about our program and think of fashion design as a bunch of girls walking around dressed up,” she says. “But the line gives people an awareness that we really are doing something and that our program is important.”

The university?s rapidly growing AMM program educates and prepares students for various positions in the apparel field, including product development, apparel engineering sales, purchasing and store management. Cal Poly Pomona has the only program on the west coast offering a bachelor?s degree in apparel management, and is one of only 13 in the U.S. endorsed by the American Apparel and Footwear Association.