Nearly 100 students from five programs – fashion design, fashion merchandising, fashion industry management, graphic design communication, and marketing – researched, developed, designed, branded and packaged a new line of coordinated mother-and-child apparel as part of a semester-long project sponsored by QVC, Inc., one of the world’s largest multimedia retailers, and Cotton, Inc.
Everything from design and sourcing to branding and marketing was addressed when the students presented their final work Dec. 7 to representatives of the West Chester, Pa.-company. The collaborative project, named “MomMe,” was designed to meet an untapped market for QVC and challenged students to come up with fabulous designs at the right price point that the company could potentially manufacture and sell on-air to its customer base.
“The QVC project was an opportunity for students to collaborate across design and business disciplines,” said Nioka Wyatt, assistant professor of fashion industry management, who was instrumental in establishing the project and previously worked at QVC. “It offered a real-world perspective on design and development, sourcing and selecting factories to produce products, while also focusing on the target market and creating branding strategies.”
The students presented a total of twelve pieces – six outfits for mothers and six accompanying pieces for children – which were produced as prototypes by one of QVC’s manufacturers in Shanghai, China, for the final presentations.
Students had an opportunity to experience, many for the first time, what it takes to put together a tech pack for the manufacturer, communicate with overseas manufacturers, and deal with quality control issues.
During their presentations, students applauded the real-world aspect of the project, saying it enhanced their understanding of the various details involved in bringing a product to market.
“This QVC DEC project was the most realistic and hands-on of my college career,” said Danielle Parisi, a junior marketing major. “I look forward to applying this knowledge in future jobs.”
For the collaborative project, fashion merchandising and industry management students worked with fashion design students to not only create great designs, but also to do it at a price appropriate for QVC buyers, all the while ensuring the design’s integrity.
Meanwhile, graphic design communication students developed “MomMe” branding, along with gift-with-purchase ideas for each line that offered such giveaways as friendship bracelet kits, tea sets and game boards. The gift-with-purchase items were designed to be consistent with the theme of the garments and to enhance the bond between mother and child.
Business students researched the appropriate target market for potential QVC buyers of the line, and developed a promotion and marketing campaign to launch the product. Students in fashion industry management and fashion merchandising collaborated to create pricing strategies for each garment based on cost of production and percentage of profit expectation.
Lucia Dispigno-Viola ’97, senior fashion design and development manager at QVC, told the students that this extensive project provided them with an in-depth, real-world experience that will help them as they enter the fashion industry following graduation.
Dispigno-Viola, along with Christina Dyson, assistant buyer; Patricia Walsh, vendor representative; Susan Leibenhaut, director of global sourcing; Tammy Weiss, sourcing specialist; Jenee Briggs, buyer; Sica von Plato, associate TV sales manager; and Keith Sison, manager of product development and global sourcing at QVC, worked with the group throughout the semester to provide industry expertise, feedback and direction for the students.
“This collaboration has added tremendous value to the students’ academic experiences,” noted Frank Baseman, associate professor and director of the graphic design communication program, who was one of the advisors of the project. “This level of real-world learning helps ours students understand the research, design and development process involved when bringing a new product line to market.”
Courses involved in the collaboration included consumer behavior, taught by Chae-Mi Lim, Ph.D., assistant professor of fashion merchandising; marketing and merchandising, taught by Beth Mariotz, Ed.D., associate professor of fashion merchandising; fashion design courses, taught by Anne Hand, associate professor, and Kristen Hultzapple, adjunct professor of fashion design; survey of global apparel industry/material research and production courses, taught by Wyatt and Leslie Samoni, assistant professor of fashion industry management; and package design, taught by Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel, assistant professor of graphic design communication. Clara Henry, associate professor and director of the fashion design program, served as a project advisor with Baseman.