K-State Fashion Design Students Get Contest Opportunity

Cotton Association expands Denim Runway competition to include Kansas students in effort to promote cotton production.

Published on: Sep 13, 2011

Kansas State University is offering its fashion design students a chance to discover how a small cotton plant can make a huge fashion statement.

The Kansas Cotton Association is partnering with Lubbock, Texas-based Plains Cotton Cooperative Association and K-State to bring cotton, denim and future fashion designers together in the Sunflower State via a design contest at the university.

KCA is a 100 percent producer-based organization whose primary purpose is the promotion of Kansas cotton production and use through education and research. The chance to educate future apparel designers about cotton and denim is the association's latest goal. 

"The idea to expand PCCA's original denim design contest, entitled 'Denim Runway', will give us just this opportunity," said KCA President Bob Miller, a cotton farmer from Wellington. "KCA has provided a generous grant to aid in sponsorship of the contest for the KSU fashion design students," he added.

PCCA is a farmer-owned, cotton marketing cooperative with the only fully vertically integrated supply chain for denim apparel in the Western Hemisphere. The supply chain includes the American Cotton Growers (ACG) denim mill at Littlefield, Texas, and the Denimatrix jeans facility in Guatemala City, Guatemala, both of which are renowned for innovative, high-fashion denim fabrics and jeans.

PCCA created the Denim Runway design contest in 2010 in collaboration with Texas Tech University's Apparel Design and Manufacturing Department in the College of Human Sciences as a way to help fashion design students understand all of the links in the denim apparel supply chain. 

Thus, KCA reached out to KSU Assistant Professor of Apparel Textiles and Interior Design Joycelyn Burdett, Ph.D., recognizing the potential joint-venture the association could have with the university. Miller says this contest will create a unique partnership and link between the university and the cotton industry in Kansas.

"Kansas farmers often do not get to see the crop they raise end up on a fashion runway," Miller said. "This is a very exciting opportunity to promote our product and benefit the university." 

The design contest will consist of three major categories. The Fashion Jeans competition will feature designs for men's and women's jeans and is limited to upperclassmen enrolled in special topics classes. In the Casual Category, contestants have the opportunity to design and create products out of denim fabric other than jeans. Items designed in this contest must be made of denim, and contestants are encouraged to express unlimited design ideas. The final category is a Cotton Trend Board competition where students will research trends for cotton fiber and apparel and demonstrate the results in the form of a presentation board. Both the Casual Category and Cotton Trend Board competition will be open to all students in the department who wish to participate. After visiting SCKG, contestants will be presented with a selection of high fashion ACG denim fabrics to choose from for their project entries. 

Educated with a background of cotton and supplied with some of the finest denim in the United States, contestants will then spend the next two months designing and creating their desired garments. A $10,000 grant from KCA will enable those contestants eligible for the Fashion Jeans competition to travel to ACG's denim mill in Littlefield, Texas, to complete their designs. Denim mill personnel will assist contestants in proper sanding and washing techniques and applying buttons and rivets with industrial-grade machines.  

"The opportunity to see the field-to-fabric cotton production and to work in the textile finishing labs at ACG is quite rare," Burdett said. "No amount of classroom lecture can be as meaningful as an actual experience such as this."

Contest judging will begin the last week of November, and results will be announced at the department's "Cotton, the Fabric of our Future; Today" fashion show on December 1, 2011, at K-State. Contest winners in each category will receive cash prizes and recognition plaques from PCCA.