Design Studio Targets Winning Lines for Retailers
Date: Nov. 28, 2000
Story and photos by: Mary Bridget Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Christmas is crunch time for retailers. This selling season
traditionally makes or breaks them, since the November-December
period accounts for nearly one-fourth of annual sales.
Some University of Cincinnati students are currently
brainstorming ideas for new fashion lines that could help
retailers ring up more sales in seasons to come.
Led by Phyllis Borcherding, coordinator of the product
development/merchandising program in UC's College of Design,
Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), eleven juniors are
working to develop theoretical fashion lines and marketing plans
that would fit with the future of retailers J. Crew and American
Eagle Outfitters, Inc.
The UC students are working in tandem with a group of about 15
product development/merchandising majors from Texas Christian
University in Fort Worth, Texas. The UC and the Texas students
will share their results during a videoconferencing session set
for noon, Monday, Dec. 4, in DAAP's fifth-floor videoconferencing
The UC projects are focused on a sports line for J. Crew and a
more formal, professional line targeting American Eagle
Outfitters' high school- and college-age market. They are
designing their fashions three-dimensionally on computers.
Student Alexis Ficke of Anderson Township explained that J.
Crew currently has a very limited gym line with a few basic tank
tops, sports bras and shorts. She and her fellow students
envision a much more versatile sports line for use in sailing,
tennis and golf. The garments would also be appropriate for
shopping or dining.
"Sports or active attire is hot because of the Sydney
Olympics," explained student Lori Kuenzel of Toledo. "Right now,
the J. Crew shopper gets active apparel elsewhere. We want to
draw them to one-stop shopping."
The UC students also want to expand the fashion offerings of
American Eagle Outfitters which currently focuses on casual
attire. They are developing garments -- like cardigan sweaters,
jumpers, turtlenecks, pleated skirts as well as dresses -- with
clean lines and classic styling. In targeting high school- and
college-age consumers, the UC team is even developing a humorous
ad campaign using black-and-white images of high school students
gleaned from a 1960s yearbook.
The project demands much more from the students than simply
designing new lines of clothing, according to Borcherding. The
students must also research and calculate production costs,
target a specific market, and demonstrate how the new lines would
fit in stores, in catalogues and on the Web.
In completing the work, the juniors are drawing upon valuable
real-world experience they've earned during cooperative education
quarters. UC design students are required to alternate their
academic quarters with paid, professional work quarters. This
practice, known commonly as co-op, was founded at UC in 1906. The
students in this "Product Development I" studio have co-opped at
Structure (part of The Limited Corp.); Bath and Body Works;
Neiman Marcus Group Inc.; Abercrombie & Fitch; Liz Claiborne
Inc.; and Sears, Roebuck and Co.
In addition to the students mentioned previously, others in
the studio are Azhand Shokohi from Mason, Ohio; Michelle Holley
from Jeffersonville, Indiana; Corinne Jakubowski of Cincinnati;
Sara Minda of Colerain Township; Julie and Jessica Weiner of
Englewood, Ohio; and Rachel Kowalski of Buffalo, New York.