When women fans of the Washington Redskins want to show their support for the team, they have had few fashion-forward options in team apparel. Offerings are mostly limited to basic T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants and some accessories.
Dr. May Chae, Marymount University assistant professor of fashion design, saw an opportunity for her students to address the needs of this niche market and assigned her two Product Development classes the task. She also added the incentive of a competition. At the end of course, the students in each class would present their lines, as well as production and marketing plans, to a panel of judges, which included Carlyle Abbott, marketing manager for the Washington Redskins, and her associate Morgan Hamlin.
Each class was divided into teams with a mix of fashion design and fashion merchandising majors. Half the teams designed for the 18-to-34 market, and the other half for those 35 and over. From market research, design, sourcing, and pricing to branding and developing a company website, they covered it all.
The teams researched trends, developed their individual brands, and combined the creative side of fashion with business savvy. The students considered fair labor practices when sourcing production and researched the needs of each target demographic. High on the list were fashionable comfort, femininity and sporty styling. The younger set preferred tighter, flirty silhouettes and lower cost, while those 35+ looked for quality materials and classic designs to flatter different body shapes.
Students took their inspiration from a variety of sources. For Lisa Sanders ʼ14, the designer on her team which had the younger demographic, it was surrealist artist René Magritte. “I used architectural elements,” she explained, “with cutouts in the leggings up against the soft drape of the jacket and its oversized hood.” The cinched waist added to the feminine profile. Sarah Wheeler ʼ14, also a design major, looked to Harry Potter and Hogwarts for inspiration. She adapted the look for the 34+ market with a long burgundy and gold knit sweater, an original print turtleneck shirt also in team colors, tailored jeans, and a denim vest.
The company names for the student lines were as creative as the designs, including N.F. Elle, Row 10, and Second Skins.Competition winners
The competition was stiff, making it difficult for the judges to select a winning team in each class. It all came down to the scores for design, construction, and presentation of the production and marketing plans.
In the morning class, the N.F. Elle team won, with designer Sarah Wheeler and fashion merchandisers Katie Currier ʼ15 and Teddy Myers ʼ15. The Hogwarts-inspired garments were sporty, warm, comfortable, washable, and affordable. Keeping fair labor and quality concerns in mind, the team sourced textiles and production in California.
For the afternoon class, the winner was the Row 10 team, with designer Jessica Forbes ʼ14, and fashion merchandisers Niya Lawrence ʼ15 and Ashaunte Smith ʼ14. Also designing for the 34+ market, they went for quality fabrics and a timeless look. Capri pants, a belted tunic with cut-outs on the shoulders, and a cowl scarf in a Redskins fleece can take the wearer from work to game.
At the end of the presentations, Carlyle Abbott, told the students, “I didn’t know what to expect, and you blew us away!”
: Sarah Wheeler models the design of Lisa Sanders, Second Skins teamPHOTO 2
: Redskins apparel designed by the morning class – (left to right) Designs by Elvis Buckhalter, Lisa Sanders, Ocean-Miracle Morris, Breanne Lippy, and Sarah WheelerPHOTO 3
: Redskins apparel designed by the afternoon class – (left to right) Designs by Kieri Borg, Jessica Forbes, Si-Jin Joo, Brelynn Knight, Parastou Moghaddam, and Amanda PachecoPHOTO 4
: Maya Shaw models the design of Jessica Forbes, Row 10 team, giving Carlyle Abbott and Morgan Hamlin from the Redskins marketing team a closer look.PHOTO 5
: The N.F. Elle team (left to right) – Teddy Myers and Katie Currier, fashion merchandising majors, and designer Sarah Wheeler; Lisa Sanders (right) models the sample outfit.