Feature

Students gain hands-on experience: Apparel Merchandising and Design Program hosts digital magazine

"Red Shoes. Strong Women"
The apparel display in Nielsen Hall the week of Sept. 28, 2021, features the theme “Red Shoes. Strong Women” to bring attention to the Red Shoe Movement while showcasing ensembles assembled by students in the Apparel Visual Merchandising class. PHOTO BY JOELLEN RITCHIE

Kirkwood Community College offers more than 130 programs and majors. One of these programs is the Apparel Merchandising and Design program, which has grown from an average 13 students to 23 students in recent years. According to Elisha Stanley, the only instructor and advisor to the program, “Within this program we focus on both the merchandising side and a little bit of the design side as well. So, this is basically a combination program.” 

The program is for those pursuing work in the industry, whether it’s retail and companies like Dillard’s and Nordstrom or starting their own business. 

Most students within the program graduate and are able to find work, though students typically transfer to a four-year college. 

On the second floor of Nielsen Hall, there is a display of the students’ work, creating different styles and showing what they have learned in the program. Students build the display around a theme such as a culture or holidays and use their creativity to create clothing for the display.  

“Some of them pull from their closets, sometimes the props they have at home. One had said their mother loves to decorate every holiday so she raids her mother’s supply of things. Other students will buy from retailers and return those things. Some of them will thrift for items, they will borrow from friends and family. Some students will go out and kind of use the display as an excuse to buy something new and they would end up keeping those items, whether it’s the clothes or the props, whatever that may be,” Stanley said.  

Students don’t only show their work at Nielsen Hall, as Stanley and the program work with a digital magazine called Bricolage. The digital magazine has given students an opportunity to expand their horizons with resume building skills and workplace experience. 

Students in the photography program also work with the Apparel Merchandising and Design as well as the graphic arts program to create a collaborative learning environment.

Image courtesy of JoEllen Ritchie | Kirkwood Communiqué

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