Cotton Grants Fund Fashionable Student Research
The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing estimates there is three-quarters of a pound of cotton in every pound of American dollar bills. So how far does 114 pounds of cotton go? Far enough to support two research projects at Kent State’s Fashion School.
Two grants from Cotton Incorporated, totaling nearly $70,000, will fund collaborative studies between merchandising and design students under the leadership of Assistant Professor Gargi Bhaduri, and course studies on social media use in fashion merchandising under Assistant Professor Mourad Krifa.
Bhaduri’s award provides just over $47,000 for collaborative studies that will teach merchandising students and design students how to see the industry from the other’s perspective. “It’s between me and (assistant professor) Ja Young Hwang,” she said. “It’ll be a collaborative project between a fashion branding course and the senior fashion design studio.” Bhaduri said the project will assemble groups of four to five merchandising students and two or three design students each. Merchandising students will come up with an idea for a brand and conduct market research and feasibility studies, then the design students will create a capsule collection for the brand. “Hopefully we’ll see some good things coming out of it,” Bhaduri said. “Maybe some group can take it as an entrepreneurial opportunity, because they’ll have a business plan as well as prototypes that they can show.”
Naturally, the brands will focus on cotton apparel. Krifa’s more than $21,000 grant supports a pilot study he began this semester with assistant professor Jewon Lyu, teaching fashion marketing students how to become better users of informational social media. He said they need to be able to use social media platforms to gain a sense of consumers’ perceptions about products. “It’s about information literacy, and giving them the tools to analyze and become proficient in extracting essential information from social media, because that’s where a lot of our consumers are now,” Krifa said.
The study will, of course, focus on cotton products as well. For example, Krifa said students might test consumer perceptions about whether or not cotton garments are competitive as athletic wear.
He said the funding carries the study into the fall semester, and he plans to determine if social media focus could be viable as a component in online classes.
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