Pine Bluff, AR — Two University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff students of merchandising, textiles and design (MTD) recently attended Northwest Arkansas (NWA) Fashion Week in Bentonville, Arkansas, according to Yunru Shen, instructor of fashion and Fashion Network advisor for UAPB. At the event, Havilland Ford and Khameria Clark had the chance to interact with fashion designers, makeup artists, fashion photographers and industry leaders from companies such as Walmart and Interform.

According to its website, NWA Fashion Week, hosted by Interform, aims to illuminate fashion trends, emerging local brands and aspiring designers. The event, which includes photographers, stylists, models, designers and production teams, celebrates the blossoming culture of Northwest Arkansas.

“This experience was important because it exposed our students to the latest trends and innovations in the fashion industry and helped them understand the inspiration and concepts behind fashion design,” Shen said. “By observing the work of professional designers and interacting with industry leaders, the students expanded their horizons and stimulated their creativity.”

During conversations with fashion brand CEOs and entrepreneurs, the students learned about the styles and creative concepts of different designers, discussed developing trends in the fashion industry and explored the needs of the U.S. and international markets.

“The interactions they had provided valuable guidance and insights for their future careers,” Shen said. “In addition to making these important connections, they were among the VIP guests invited to sit in the front row of the event’s fashion show.”

Ford said she was very excited to participate in the event and that seeing the work of eight designers in one night fueled her passion for the fashion industry.

“This was by far the best fashion weekend I have attended,” she said. “NWA Fashion Week included a good location, sponsors, food, music and hospitality. Most of all, it featured exceptional talent – from the designers to the hair and makeup team, seamstress and set designers. I am incredibly grateful and humbled that Walmart and Interform thought of UAPB – and the MTD program specifically – when planning their guest list.”

Ford hopes UAPB students of merchandising, textiles and design will be able to participate in the event in future years because of the inspiration it can give them as they hone their craft and career interests.

“Taking advantage of opportunities and exploring career paths or interests is all about exposure,” she said. “The theme of this year’s NWA Fashion Week was sustainability, and I have a vision of pursuing textiles with a focus on recycled materials. There was a particular designer, Patrick Holcomb, whose brand ‘Beterbilt’ is focused on vintage apparel that was manipulated and reimagined through screen-printing and dyeing. This collection inspired me to think of ways to repurpose textiles or materials to aid in the creation of something new or add to something that already exists.”

After she graduates from UAPB in May, Ford plans to pursue a master’s degree in textiles at North Carolina State University.

For more information on the UAPB Department of Human Sciences’ Merchandising, Textiles and Design Program, contact Yunru Shen at [email protected].