New York Study Tour Group 2008Twenty-two undergraduate students in the Department of Merchandising, Apparel, and Textiles engaged in a unique learning experience in late January and early February.  These students joined Dr. Elizabeth Easter, Professor; two graduate students; and one alumni chaperone for a 5-day trip to New York City to experience Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.  The trip was part of a study tour that focused on the fashion industry from design to presentation.
Study Tour 2008During the five days in New York, students visited design houses including Donna Karan, Jovani Eveningwear, and Tommy Hilfiger.   The group met Tommy Hilfiger and posed for group photos (see left) with the famous designer.  The days began early and the students had the opportunity to experience aspects of the fashion industry that they might not otherwise see throughout their careers.  In addition to the visits to designers, study tour participants went to retail outlets (including Barney’s New York) and advertising firms.  Students were required to complete a walking tour of five retail outlets and to visit two museums.
Experiential learning was highlighted through the students’ work with the fashion shows.  Each student attended two fashion shows and had work assignments for one.  Their assignments included filling gift bags given to guests invited to the shows by the designers, arranging seating, placing flyers on seats, and escorting guests to seats.  Behind the scenes, students escorted members of the press from check-in to the head of public relations.  Sandy Blye, President of Blye Media Relations, shared her praise for the University of Kentucky students, “The students who helped us backstage were wonderful.  They really played such an important role in introducing the media to our head of public relations who then took them to the designer for their interviews.”
Fashion Show Study Tour 2008Throughout the study tour, students were required to keep a detailed journal of their experiences.  Students also were required to select a topic related to the fashion industry for a special project.  Prior to the trip, project topics were approved by Dr. Easter and a summary of the proposed project was submitted.  Following the trip, students completed and submitted research reports for their topics.
Jodie Belcher, a graduate student chaperone, voiced her thoughts about the study tour, “The opportunity to attend and work Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is a rare and unique experience for the merchandising students from Kentucky.”  The fashion week study tour has been an annual course offering through the department for the past four years.