Denim Runway: Competition Opens Doors to Future Designers

Students have the opportunity to rub shoulders with designers and watch their designs go into production in Guatemala.

Denim Runway participants

Students from the Department of Apparel, Design and Manufacturing are vying for the opportunity of a lifetime: commercial production of their original designs.

She’s already devised a brand. Matador jeans. They’ll feature the silhouette of a bull as a logo.

Jenna Shell, a senior from Beaumont, is one of 26 students in the Department of Apparel Design and Manufacturing that are vying to create the winning design for the best new men’s jeans and women’s jeans for Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA).

“It’s more of a classic jean that the everyday guy would want to wear,” Shell said as she worked with a piece of denim and described her plans. “It’s a timeless jean, I guess.”

Denim Meets Project Runway

Dubbed “Denim Runway,” the competition is much like the Lifetime reality series “Project Runway.” The budding designers are competing for an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion.

A winner will be chosen April 19 and announced at TechStyle, the department’s annual fashion show on April 24.

The month-long competition is a collaboration between the apparel design department and PCCA, a farmer-owned cotton marketing, warehousing, denim manufacturing and jeans production cooperative headquartered in Lubbock. PCCA owns and operates a denim mill in Littlefield, 34 miles northwest of Lubbock. All students in the competition are using denim from the mill to develop their one-of-a-kind creations.

PCCA also owns Denimatrix, an integrated producer of fashion denim jeans apparel based in Guatemala City whose designers and product development staff work with clients such as Abercrombie & Fitch.

Students Hope to Get "Lucky"

“This real designing situation encourages the students to produce their best work rather than just completing another assignment,” said Laura Haynie, who instructs the classes. “The opportunity to work with top designers and see a factory that employs more than 6,000 people working to produce the winning designs is an incredible learning experience. What an impressive addition to one's resume.”

Denim designs

The winning design will go into commercial production this summer at Denimatrix, an integrated producer of fashion denim jeans apparel based in Guatemala City whose designers and product development staff work with clients such as Abercrombie & Fitch.

And, just like the popular reality show, students will be judged by a panel of experts who will pick the winning designs, said John Johnson, PCCA’s director of public and legislative affairs.

Denim Dreams

“Our textile and apparel division is a major denim and jeans manufacturer renowned for innovative, high-fashion denim fabrics and products,” he said. “The winner or winners of this competition will travel to our jeans facility in Guatemala later this summer to work with our designers and see their jeans go into mass production.”

The competition already has caught the eye of Cotton USA, a program of Cotton Council International. The program recently agreed to help sponsor the winning designers on a trip to the Colombiamoda trade show July 27-29 in Medellin, Colombia. While there, winners will get a rare, bird’s eye view of the industry, from fiber to processing to brand to retail throughout the Western Hemisphere.

“We are so excited to partner with PCCA on this project,” said Cherif Amor, chairman of the department. “We have such talented students in our department, and this competition gives them opportunities beyond their wildest dreams. This opens doors to them they may never have thought possible.”

Watch the Students Prepare


Apparel Design & Manufacturing Program

Apparel Design

The Apparel Design & Manufacturing Program in the Department of Design at Texas Tech University provides the key to entering the glamorous world of fashion. Students learn to create and produce their own designs, research, and apply the latest trends, manage product development, apparel design, or design and construct costumes or stage. A variety opportunities and jobs are possible with a degree in Apparel Design and Manufacturing.

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