By Alex Wilson, June 21, 2021
WARRENSBURG, MO – Throughout their University of Central Missouri experience, students seek not only an education but an academic area where high-caliber faculty members will engage them in meaningful hands-on experiences that will better prepare them for successful careers. For many students, the Fashion and Apparel Merchandising major, as a part of the School of Technology, provides such an opportunity. This Bachelor of Science program enables creative-minded students to develop, practice, and evolve their fashion skills and their business abilities for ever-growing industries while also providing opportunities for students to exercise their input into the apparel world. A minor and certificate in fashion merchandising also are available.
Students in the program learn a lot about fashion industries. They develop an understanding of concepts such as how to design and create merchandise, how to brand themselves in the marketplace, how to handle marketplace trends and how to stock a business. They learn about these complex masteries just as much as they learn about creative concepts such as design and promotion.
The B.S. in Fashion: Textiles and Clothing in Business (FAME) is accredited by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) alongside the Family and Consumer Science Education (FCS) program in the School of Professional Education and Leadership. The dichotomy between these academic areas allows for educational collaboration which further helps the two programs in achieving their goals of providing a higher standard of learning.
As noted on the FAME/ FCS accreditation website, the program “prepares students to become caring and compassionate individuals in a diverse and sustainable global environment. These programs are structured to develop confident lifelong learners who recognize behavioral and technological changes over their lifespan to support community vitality, individual well-being, and family systems.”
The Fashion and Apparel Merchandising program provides students with access to state-of-the-art equipment such as industry-standard Bernina sewing machines and emerging technologies such as 3D printing.
“3D printing is something that is kind of new to the fashion industry and it is usually used for samples, but we are seeing some jewelry and brand tags that are being 3D printed,” said Melissa Abner, associate professor and program coordinator. She added that students can also create jewelry and branding items that can be used as giveaways or used as an accessory.
“We are letting them know the options that are available to them with 3D printing,” Abner said.
“It is very technology-driven and inspiring. A lot of that has to do with our professors. They are very great and are always passionate about what they teach,” said sophomore Mallory Martin. “They stay current with what is going on in the fashion industry today, which I really like. I think it is very beneficial to us. As technology advances in the industry, they try to transfer that technology into the program.”
The Fashion and Apparel Merchandising program allows students to gain real-world experience with a curriculum that has evolved alongside the fashion and merchandising industry. Subjects such as sustainability and labor rights are incorporated into the learning experience to help create a generation of graduates who understand ethics.
“Some of my favorite things and opportunities that we give our students are the experiential learning opportunities with guest speakers, and when COVID was not around, we did a lot of field trips which allowed us to bring in a lot of industry to our program,” said Erica Spurgeon, an assistant professor in the FAME program. “It’s nice to be able to have an array of companies, just in Kansas City, that are bigger companies that are allowing us to see what they are doing.”
She added that businesses such as Buckle, Nordstrom, and Rally House have worked with the program to help students see and learn about their processes.
Students also have had the opportunity to attend the MAGIC trade show, a hub for many businesses around the globe, to see in person how the wholesale buying process works.
Products designed by students through the program can also be purchased online. These products are UCM branded items and include university-themed designs. A necktie, for example, was created and sold by students featuring a paisley pattern inspired by university colors. Other products have included scrunchies, scarves, tank tops, and more, many of them purchased by faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Graduates of the program can expect a diverse range of options available to them in their post-college careers. In previous years students have been hired by companies such as H&M, Nike and Helzberg. Program graduates have enjoyed successful careers as product development specialists, merchandisers, stylists and even as business owners.
The Fashion and Apparel Merchandising program is complemented by the student organization Fashion Business Association (FBA). It is open to students regardless of major and focuses on engaging in real-world practices inside the UCM campus. The FBA gives students opportunities to participate in fashion shows, fashion challenges and social media management.
“It’s a fun organization, I have been doing it since my freshman year. It is busy at times and since COVID happened this year we haven’t been able to do everything we wanted to do. So, we have had to come up with ideas to keep our members involved but I think we have done well and have kept a solid group throughout the semester,” said Brianna Miles, senior and president of the Fashion Business Association. “This year we have been doing a lot of DIY (Do-It-Yourself). We do a lot of things on our social media and we had a large tie-dye event earlier this year outside the Union. That was our biggest event this year and a lot of people enjoyed it.”
For more information contact Melissa Abner at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Fashion and Apparel Merchandising program and the Fashion Business Association can be found on Instagram at @ucmfashionmerch and @ucm_fba. Products designed by Fashion and Apparel Merchandising students can be purchased at the University of Central Missouri Marketplace at ucmo.edu/buyfashion.