Departments collaborate on annual fashion show

What do SF State departments get when they put their collective heads together? A remarkable practical learning experience that benefits a nonprofit organization.

A photo of a student modeling clothing during the 2011 SF State student fashion show.

A student models clothing during the 2011 SF State spring fashion show. For this year's show, students from the apparel design and merchandising program as well as the broadcast and electronic communication arts and marketing departments have collaborated to make the event a success.

On May 3, SF State's annual student-run fashion show, "Runway 2012: Defined," will showcase designs by graduating seniors. It will also showcase the collaborative efforts of dozens of students across three departments who combined their skills to make the event a success and, in doing so, got a unique perspective on other parts of the creative process to which they may not have otherwise been exposed.

SF State's apparel design and merchandising (ADM) program as well as the broadcast and electronic communication arts (BECA) and marketing departments have all contributed to the fashion show. ADM students provided the designs and put the show together. Earlier this semester, marketing students queried other SF State students about what would convince them to attend the show. BECA students took that information and created posters and promotional videos and will also be on hand to film the event and help with lighting.

Part of the show will also benefit Goodwill Industries, a nonprofit that provides job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs funded through sales at its thrift stores. Sixteen students were given $20 to spend at Goodwill on items to "upcycle" -- convert into something new and improved -- for the fashion show to highlight the possibilities of shopping at Goodwill.

The fashion show is not the only project SF State students are working on to benefit Goodwill. ADM's visual merchandising students have created window displays at two San Francisco thrift stores, and BECA and marketing students have spent the entire semester working on a promotional campaign for Goodwill targeted at millennials -- those born during the 1980s and 1990s. The marketing students conducted research to learn what would convince this age group to shop and donate at the stores. Students from the BECA and Design and Industry departments used the research to inform the print and television advertisements that they created.

The processes, with Goodwill as a client and the fashion show as an event, mirror what apparel design and merchandising, marketing and BECA students will encounter in the professional world, and professors involved say the students benefit by experiencing parts of the creative process they may not otherwise witness.

"The students get a much better understanding of the tools other students use, the similarities and differences between them, and how together they can create more," said Connie Ulasewicz, associate professor of consumer and family studies/dietetics and faculty advisor for the Fashion Network Association.

Both Chair of Marketing Kathy O'Donnell and BECA professor Hamid Khani, who supervises the BECA students involved in the projects, agree. O'Donnell says she encourages her students to stay involved with BECA students as they go into the field to create commercials based on marketing's creative briefs. By doing so, they get a new perspective that can be valuable in the job market.

"It gives students something to tell an employer that other students that have just taken a traditional class can't say," O'Donnell said.

"Runway 2012: Defined" will take place at 7 p.m. May 3 at the San Francisco Design Center. More details can be found at To learn more about SF State's BECA department, visit To learn more about the marketing department, visit To learn more about the ADM program, visit the department of consumer and family studies/dietetics department webpage at .

-- Jonathan Morales