Want to look like a fashionable student at Cal Poly Pomona?
AM2 has the “Urban Scholar” look for you — a complete outfit with duffle bags and tote or backpack.
The Urban Scholar is the latest line from AM2, the registered brand name for the annual apparel production capstone project in the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Management.
“The goal is to put into practice all of what they’ve learned in previous quarters,” says Assistant AMM Professor Muditha Senanayake, “to design and produce a clothing line in a real-world situation to real-world buyers and consumers.”
The Urban Scholar line is expected to be on sale in the Bronco Bookstore starting around Commencement and through the fall. Any surplus items will be sold at the AMM Boutique in Building 45 or online on mybroncospirit.com.
The fashion line is the result of hard work by about 30 AMM students.
Starting in winter quarter, the students conducted market research at Cal Poly Pomona through online and in-person surveys. They also spent several days, observing, interviewing, and photographing students from various majors on campus.
“Through our research, we found that students wanted comfort and versatility in their day-to-day school wardrobe, while still looking modern and fashionable,” student Tiffany Calima says.
The students brainstormed about the type of products, styles and graphics they would use on the line. They also identified sources for the clothing materials and learned how to use specialized industry software to manage the production of the line.
Ultimately, they decided upon designs for a bomber jacket, a hoodie, T-shirts, jogging pants, a duffle bag and a convertible laptop tote/backpack.
As part of their winter quarter final exam, the students actually had to pitch the proposed products to Clint Aase, the Bronco Bookstore’s buyer.
“I really liked this year’s line. This year’s class listened and incorporated the lessons learned from previous years more than any previous class,” says Aase, who has been critiquing AM2’s designs for about 10 years.
“The changes that we had to make weren’t that much,” says Sara Biernesser-Kuhn, another student. “We did a lot of market research, so we really tried to play into that.”
In the spring quarter, the students’ focus shifted to production. Students were divided into “real life” departments, such as management, technical design and pattern making, marketing, sourcing, and quality assurance.
“I run this class like a company. I have a general manager and a production manager,” says Senanayake, who comes from an industry background.
The students planned to cut and sew the duffle bag, the laptop tote/backpack and the jogging pants themselves.
But they had to find real-world contractors to handle production — including cutting and sewing, screen printing, and embroidery — of the other clothing items. That’s not always easy, given that the class has a small budget. Fortunately, some companies donate services or materials to the department.
Once the contractors were selected, the students had to finalize the patterns, grade them for other sizes and plan the cuts so the materials were used efficiently.
After the contractors were done with production, the students had to check the quality of their work. In late May, one such check revealed that a part of the hoodie was cut incorrectly, because the calibration of the cutter was off.
“This happens in the industry,” Senanyake tells the students.
The students had to decide whether to drop plans to offer a large-size hoodie or start over again, while working to meet the product delivery deadline of Commencement weekend.
The marketing and promotion team also had to get ready for the line-launching promotional event with a raffle draw on May 31 sponsored by Jamba Juice at the Bronco Commons.
Although the students meet as a class in the AMM lab for at least six hours a week to work on the project, many put in extra hours to meet the deadline.
There are benefits to all that hard work. Thanks to a donation by a software company, the students can enter an essay contest to win one of two one-year licenses to use computer-aided-design software created specifically for clothing design. Each subscription is worth about $2,500.
In addition, one of AM2’s industry contacts, Tukatech Inc., wants to hire four students for internships that could lead to full-time employment.
“It is good preparation for what to expect in the industry,” Calima says.