PhilaU fashion students raised $3,885 to support the families of cancer patients by selling handmade clothing and accessories at a Dec. 3 pop-up shop in the Kanbar Performance Space.
Some 200 fashion merchandising and management students in five classes sold such items as infinity scarves, quartz necklaces, make-up bags, pillow blankets and pajama shorts, all for a top price of $25.
“The partnership between PhilaU and ChemoClothes allows us to incorporate the fashion, the social and the entrepreneurial,” said Nioka Wyatt, associate professor of fashion merchandising and management. “This innovative educational model blends real-world experiences, active learning and collaboration, which are fundamental to a PhilaU education.”
The shop was packed with buyers early on. Alessandra Espino, a sophomore fashion merchandising and management major, and her team sold more than half of their products before the first hour. The team created necklaces with crystal stones they said would promote positivity in the wearer’s life. “We wanted to make a product that would sell out in order to give the most money to ChemoClothes as possible,” Espino said.
Many teams used recycled materials to save on costs and promote sustainability.
Casey Fluharty, a fashion merchandising and management sophomore, and her team used salvaged fabric to make button-down flannel shirts with lace trim. “Sustainability was important to us, so we purchased our flannel shirts from a local thrift shop and repurposed them by sewing lace to the bottom,” she said.
Brook Brittell, a fashion design senior, said she learned the importance of teamwork while completing this project. “We each had to do our part on time in order for the whole product to come together,” she said.
Brittell used her fashion design skills to handcraft her team’s crop tops. “I went to New York to buy the fabric,” she said. “I made the pattern. I cut the fabric and used an overlocking machine in our fashion labs to make the seams.”
Students also gained an important lesson in corporate social responsibility.
“Knowing that we can help somebody else out with our hard work is inspirational and something I would like to continue with after college,” said Brittany Veasey, a fashion merchandising and management senior.
Over the course of the semester, students in the global fashion insight and retail strategy and structure courses collaborated to produce and market handmade apparel and accessories for the sale. The goal was to replicate all the steps they would have to take in the real world to set up a new fashion-related business.
“It’s a great learning experience,” said adjunct faculty member Benjamin Freeman, noting that students must become familiar with every facet of the fashion industry, from materials research and selection to garment design to product marketing. “You learn best by doing it yourself. It also gives the students a great sense of accomplishment when they donate their proceeds to ChemoClothes.”
PhilaU fashion students have raised more than $18,000 over the last four years for ChemoClothes, a Marlton, N.J.-based non-profit dedicated to providing financial assistance to families affected by cancer.