Central Michigan University's fashion merchandising and design program was recently ranked 25th nationally among public schools and 12th in the Midwest by Fashion-Schools. These rankings are representative of the caliber of the program.
"Upon graduation, more than 92 percent of fashion merchandising and design grads are placed into industry jobs," said Michael Mamp, a CMU human environmental studies faculty member.
CMU's technologies — such as a sweating mannequin and an environmental chamber — attract partnerships with brands such as Lululemon and Reebok.
The program and opportunities continue to grow. Construction of the MakerBot Center of Innovation, a lab that will house approximately 30 3D printers, is set to be completed this month. The lab is the first of its kind at a Midwest public school and Mamp will teach the first semesterlong course in the U.S. focused on 3D printing as it applies to fashion product conceptualization and development.
Students in the program also will benefit from the new Visual Merchandising Lab, the first of its kind in the U.S. at a four-year institution, Mamp said.
"It provides a mock store environment with merchandisable store interior as well as window display areas that allow students to put the theory of merchandising into action," Mamp said.
From the campus runway to Parisian techniques
In addition to technology, fashion merchandising and design students gain hands-on experience through the Threads Fashion Show and industry-related opportunities offered through CMU Study Abroad.
Oxford sophomore Megan Cavellier recently studied high-end fashion techniques at the Paris American Academy.
"I learned real couture techniques in the heart of Paris from people who are and have been working in the industry for years and years," Cavellier said. "One particularly special experience was having the privilege to learn the Madame Gres draping technique from Madame Picot. Madame Gres only taught her technique to five people during her life, and Madame Picot is the last one of those five who is still alive today."
Saginaw senior Kimberly Johnson — summer intern in New York at both Shoptiques.com and VV Patchouli, Italian luxury handbag house — first participated in Threads as a volunteer during her last year of high school. She entered her own collections during her sophomore and junior years. Johnson also studied abroad, traveling to Florence, Italy, to study fashion marketing and fashion photography.
"We studied the business side of fashion in the U.S., as well as the European market," Johnson said. "I also learned how to use studio and natural lighting to photograph models and locals for street style."
Learn more about CMU's fashion merchandising and design program, including the Center for Merchandising and Technology and other opportunities for students to immerse and learn.