April 27, 2012
Ellie Gilchrist’s entry for the casual competition includes a crop top, in combination with flared shorts.
Whether it be rustic-wear or haute couture, the results of a local competition Saturday evening could bring aspiring fashionistas a stitch closer to realizing their dreams.
This is the third year for Denim Runway, a design contest that ties Texas Tech apparel, design and manufacturing (ADM) students with Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA) and Cotton Council International (CCI).
The competition is much like Lifetime’s reality TV series, “Project Runway.” However, as the name suggests, the models will walk the catwalk in jeans. Each contestant had one month to bring their ideas to fruition under the supervision of Su Shin, ADM program director.
“It provides students with an opportunity to compete in three categories: high-fashion for men and/or women, casual-wear, and cotton trend board,” said Shin. “Participation increases their motivation to learn about the subject matter, from cotton fiber to the final product.”
Their journey began with a visit to cotton farms during the fall semester, and continued in February with a tour of the American Cotton Growers Denim Mill, a part of PCCA textiles division. The massive complex, located in Littlefield, is one of only four denim mills operating in the United States.
Led by product development manager Larry Lundberg, students were introduced to everything from bales of cotton, to the manufacturing of yarn, the dyeing process, weaving and finishing.
At the tour’s conclusion, Lundberg presented the group with a variety of fabrics to choose from, including premiums such as stretch denim.
The trend board competition received the most entries by far, with a total of 50.
Upon receiving their selections, students worked on their designs to the farthest possible construction point.
Ellie Gilchrist, a senior from Dallas, has known that fashion was her calling since she was very young.
“I’ve known I wanted to do apparel design since I was 12 years old,” Gilchrist said. “I have a lot of family in the art world and the fashion world. Both my parents are very creative, so it’s just in my blood.”
Gilchrist’s entry for the casual competition includes a crop top with elastic at the bottom, in combination with flared shorts.
Another senior, Jovita Lektzian, majored in apparel design in her native Lithuania, and never imagined she would continue her studies at Texas Tech.
“I married an American, who is now a political science professor here. We met in Norway, in Oslo, during Norwegian language class. He was working on research for his professor, and I was an au pair,” Lektzian said. “I didn’t know there was an apparel design program until we came to Lubbock.”
For her entry in the women’s high-fashion category, she chose a straight-leg jean with a pattern inspired by her native land. “It’s an embroidery-style pattern from my hometown near the capital city of Vilnius.”
Lektzian said the design was a regional pattern widely used many generations ago that has experienced resurgence in recent years, as many Lithuanians search for their roots.
“The pattern will be applied with acrylic paint, because I like that you can feel it.”
Gilchrist and Lektzian joined other contestants in Littlefield for “Mill Finishing Week,” where each student had the opportunity to seek professional assistance from denim mill personnel for their creation’s washing, destruction and hardware assembly, such as rivets or other embellishments.
For her entry in the women’s high-fashion category, Jovita Lektzian chose a straight-leg jean with a pattern inspired by her native land, Lithuania.
A panel of judges selected by PCCA scored the entries on April 20, based on their ability to deliver a strong message about cotton, selling strategy to a target market, how appropriate it is for current and future trends, plus creativity and design.
Students also were critiqued through interview and presentation, which includes how they present their idea, inspiration, and knowledge of design principles, fashion and the retail industry.
The trend board competition received the most entries by far, with a total of 50. That was followed by 19 entries for the casual and men’s fashion, and finally 17 in women’s wear.
The winner in the casual category will receive a recognition plaque with a $500 cash prize. The trend board winner also will receive a recognition plaque and a $200 cash prize.
The designer(s) of the top two high-fashion jean competition will receive a recognition plaque, plus the opportunity to travel to Guatemala, courtesy of PCCA to visit their apparel facility, Denimatrix, in Guatemala City. And CCI also will sponsor a trip to the Sourcing Trade Show, also in Guatemala. Each winner will stay for one week.
“They will get to see how jeans are produced commercially and they will meet some professionals in the industry,” said John Johnson, PCCA communications director.
So while students will be graded on their performance, the participation experience will prove to be most valuable in building resumes and careers in the fashion industry.
Volunteer models will strut the creations down the catwalk at the TechStyle: Annual Senior Day Fashion Show at 7 p.m. Saturday, at the Allen Theatre located inside the Texas Tech Student Union Building.
Winners will be announced during the event.
To see how it all began, click here.
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