Apparel progam bursts at seams with new honor
By Jessica Abbey
The apparel program at Baylor has been ranked among the top 32 most influential fashion schools in the world by fashionplaytes.com.
This is not, however, the first time that the program has received such recognition.
In 2011, fashionista.com ranked Baylor’s fashion program on the top 20 fashion schools in the U.S.
As the program’s newest ranking implies, Baylor’s apparel program lures students from around the world.
Athens, Greece, freshman Sofia Bitouli juggles being on the track team and a fashion design student. She said she knew Baylor’s fashion program was one of the top programs in the U.S.
Other international students in the fashion program include students from countries such as England and Bolivia.
Dr. Lorynn Divita, an associate professor of apparel merchandising, has been at Baylor for 12 years. She said she has seen positive changes happen in the program, such as technology advancements, study abroad opportunities and increased alumni support.
“The main reason we have received so much positive press lately is the addition of new technology,” Divita said.
The department now has a computer lab with design software and a fabric printer.
Divita said this software available to students is important in the professional world, and the students’ knowledge in these programs have really set Baylor apart.
“I think we’re very strong in the realistic approach we have with students,” said Dr. Mary Simpson, the apparel design and product development program coordinator.
Simpson said the program takes the theories into real world practice and teaches students what average people wear and buy.
McKinney senior Taylor Allen, an apparel design major, said the program has given her real life experience through forecasting fashion trends, being the student coordinator for last year’s fashion show and designing clothes for a target market.
“Here at Baylor, we not only learn about design, we learn about the business of fashion,” Allen said.
She said she feels like she has learned not only how to make clothes but also how to market, brand and sell herself as a designer.
Lake Forest, Calif., sophomore Hailey Sands said another unique aspect of the program is the faculty’s relationship with the students.
“It’s a very tight knit program,” Sands said. She said she feels she can call her professors anytime.
“I think that we’re unique because we’re small, and they care about us as students, not just as tuition,” Sands said.
Allen said that she primarily picked the design program at Baylor because of the professors.
“I was very impressed by the rigorous and well-rounded program as well as the individual attention from our professors,” Allen said.
Divita said another reason the department is strong because of the relationship it has with its alumni.
“We also benefit from a close relationship with our alumni, many of whom return to speak at our student organization Baylor Apparel Professionals,” Divita said.
This student organization gives members the opportunity to speak with professionals in their field about careers.
The alumni in the apparel program have gone on to work with many big name companies, including Fossil, Dillards, J Crew, Tiffany’s, Ralph Lauren and the Dallas Cowboys.
“I think our alums’ success in the industry proves that it can be done with hard work and dedication,” said Divita.
Divita also mentioned some of the learning experiences that Baylor students can have, including trips to Montreal, New York and cities in Europe. One experience Divita mentioned was the opportunity to spend and hour and a half with Didier Grumbach, Chairman of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
“He is quite literally the top man in French fashion,” said Divita. “I know of no other school that gets to do that.”
Simpson said that upon graduation, students are ready to face the constantly evolving challenges of the design world.
“We’ve always been great, only it was a well-kept secret,” Divita said. “Now, thanks to our investment in technology, superior learning experiences and high-achieving alums, we’re not a secret anymore.”