Two Students 'Make It Work' in Denim Competition

Becca Pierce and Stephanie Hartwig won the Apparel Design & Manufacturing 'Denim Runway' contest.

Competition winners Hartwig and Pierce will travel to Guatemala this summer to meet with designers and see how apparel goes into production.

Pierce beat more than 20 competitors to win the women's jeans portion of "Denim Runway."

Two student “jeaniuses” recently became winners of the first “Denim Runway” competition.

With an innovative zigzag pattern stitched into the back pockets, junior Stephanie Hartwig won the men’s jeans design competition. Senior Becca Pierce’s design, featuring the profile of a woman’s face on the rear pocket, won in the women’s jeans division.

The event was sponsored by Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA) and Cotton Council International (CCI) in collaboration with the College of Human Sciences Department of Design’s Apparel Design and Manufacturing program.

Fierce Competitors

For about a month, more than 20 students vied for the winning “Denim Runway” design. The competition was based on the popular Lifetime reality series, “Project Runway,” where designer hopefuls compete for a spot in the winner’s circle – and a healthy designer’s contract.

All students who participated in the competition used denim fabric from PCCA’s denim mill in Littlefield – 34 miles northwest of Lubbock. Headquartered in Lubbock, PCCA is a farmer-owned cotton marketing, warehousing, denim and jeans manufacturing cooperative. It is America’s largest cotton supplier.

“I had high hopes, and it all worked out,” Hartwig said of winning the men’s category. “I wanted to design something that was different, eye-catching. And I wanted my design to be something for the guy who has a sense of style.”

Pierce said competition was fierce throughout the contest, and she complemented all who participated.

“This is such an honor,” she said. “But as excited as I am, I can’t accept the honor without recognizing all my peers who competed in this project. It was a tough competition, and I’m truly overwhelmed.”

All of the aspiring designers in the competition used denim fabric from PCCA’s denim mill in Littlefield.

Hartwig's jeans featuring a zigzag pattern on the back pockets won in the men's division.

Hard Work Pays Off

Hartwig and Pierce will go on to the Denimatrix jeans facility in Guatemala later this year to see how a new design goes into production and to meet high-end designers in the denim apparel business, said Wally Darneille, PCCA president, CEO and 2010 President of CCI.

Cotton USA, a CCI program, also will sponsor the winning designers on a trip to the ColombiaModa trade show July 27-29 in Medellin, Colombia, to give Hartwig and Pierce a comprehensive view of the entire industry from fiber to manufacturing to brand to retail.

The Cotton USA display at this apparel trade show highlights U.S. cotton yarns and fabrics from Cotton USA Sourcing Program member mills. Attendance at ColombiaModa will give the two winning students an opportunity to learn about the U.S. cotton textile industry and garment manufacturing companies throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Real-World Experience

“It was fascinating to see our fabrics transformed into the unique vision and aesthetic of each apparel design student,” said Natalia Moore, a “Denim Runway” judge and director of human resources for the American Cotton Growers denim mill, part of the Textile and Apparel Division of PCCA.  “Not only did we see well-manufactured, trendy jeans, but also designers who understand the importance of retail and manufacturing considerations. Many of the students developed provocative label names and design concepts that have the potential to succeed in today’s complex apparel market.

“It was evident that Texas Tech’s Apparel Design & Manufacturing program provides well-rounded preparation and training for students who want to work in the apparel industry.”

Cherif Amor, chairman of Texas Tech’s Department of Design, said the competition helped create a real-world experience in an academic setting that also would provide the winners with opportunities to network with professionals in their chosen fields.

“Creating an assignment that students like is very attractive,” Amor said. “I have seen much energy and enthusiasm from the students who were involved in this project, and it helps them all attain the target goals they have set for themselves. It is an outstanding experience that bridges the gap between academia and industry.”

Overall, Darnielle said the competition was a success for the students as well as PCCA.

“This has been a great partnership with Texas Tech,” he said. “The response has exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to future projects that support Texas Tech and the West Texas cotton and textile industries.” 

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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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