October 31, 2014
The grant, which Texas Tech has received for two years, funds a class on retail trends.
Professor Deborah Fowler, the faculty project leader for the grant, teaches the retail trends class, which will be offered next fall and will include a trip to New York City to visit Cotton Incorporated's headquarters. Students will also attend the International Textile and Apparel Association Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, all funded by the grant.
In addition to this class, the grant will pay for supplies and additional components to other retail management classes, allowing students to receive cotton content throughout their educational careers.
“We want the students from Texas Tech to understand about cotton,” Fowler said. “When I wrote the grant the first time I was like, ‘We're right here in the largest cotton patch in the world and these kids know nothing about cotton.' How shameful.”
The class covers the life span of cotton, from field to fashion.
The retail trends class doesn't focus solely on cotton; its curriculum, as the course name suggests, is to analyze and predict where the industry is headed. One of the assignments is on forecasting, and the students pin several photos to a Pinterest board and demonstrate how their pins relate to the concepts studied.
Cotton does play a role in Fowler's curriculum since cotton remains a trend in clothing. Her class covers the life span of cotton, from the field into an item of clothing to its recycled life. She also discusses how cotton is dyed and how it's treated so clothes don't shrink.
“Those are all really important concepts for students who want to work in the fashion industry,” she said.
This is the second year Texas Tech has received the grant. Fowler said she plans to apply each year.
“These students are the next fiber and fabric decision-makers in the industry,” said Jenna Oschwald, a spokeswoman for Cotton Incorporated. “Cotton Incorporated has a comprehensive educational outreach, and this kind of project is specifically designed to have a positive, long-term influence on cotton demand. If we educate students on the versatility of cotton, they will continue to choose cotton fabric in their designs and products throughout their careers.”
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