Skip to main content

Denim Runway

2011 Design Contest

By Emma C. Matkin

Denim Runway

Assembling Hardware–Denim Runway 2011 contestant Kathrine Gibbs assembles the hardware for her garment with the guidance of American Cotton Growers employees. Photo by Emma C. Matkin

After a successful 2010 design contest, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA) and co-sponsor, Cotton Council International (CCI), partnered for a second year to present the Denim Runway 2011 Design Contest in collaboration with Texas Tech University’s College of Human Sciences Department of Design’s Apparel Design and Manufacturing (ADM) program.

The Denim Runway Design Contest started in 2010 as a way for PCCA to build a lasting partnership with the ADM program. The contest originated as a fashion jeans competition featuring designs for men’s and women’s jeans. Contestants present their garments to a panel of judges and are interviewed on their design inspiration, technique, and style. By participating in the contest, contestants have the opportunity to advance their designs skills and strengthen their speaking and presentation skills.

“Based on the remarkable success of last year’s contest and with the consent of the ADM department, we decided to expand it and give the students a ‘field-to-fashion’ look at the cotton industry and the entire denim apparel supply chain,” said PCCA President and CEO Wally Darneille.

In October 2010, students visited a local farm during harvest to learn about cotton production and observe farmers’ good environmental stewardship. They also visited a cotton gin and heard presentations about PCCA’s cotton marketing programs. In February, they were given a full tour of PCCA’s denim mill, American Cotton Growers (ACG) in Littlefield, Texas, to see every step in the production of denim fabric.

Denim Runway

Instruction–Director of TTU ADM Program Dr. Shin instructs Denim Runway 2011 contestant Megan Curry. Photo by Emma C. Matkin

For the Denim Runway 2011 Design Contest, the idea to broaden the opportunity and expand the contest came into play. Two new categories were added so more students could be involved. In addition to the fashion jeans competition, a Casual category was added to give contestants an opportunity to design and create anything made with denim fabric other than jeans. The other new category, Cotton Trend Board, encourages students to research and communicate their predictions about trends for cotton fiber and apparel.

With new opportunities in sight, contestants worked endless hours of preparation, cutting, sewing, and designing to participate in this year’s contest. After receiving their denim from ACG to design with for the contest, contestants had a little more than two months to complete their designs. A total of more than 100 entries for the entire contest were submitted for judging on April 14, 2011.

The panel of judges for the men’s and women’s fashion jeans category consisted of Lindsay and Stephen Spiegelberg, owners of a trendy boutique, Chrome, and popular collegiate store, Red Raider Outfitters in Lubbock. David Collins, assistant executive director for CCI in Washington, D.C., also judged the Fashion Jeans and Casual categories.

“I was really impressed with the designs this year,” Collins said. “The talent was exceptional, and the students showed a great deal of creativity,” he added. “It really says a lot for the students and the ADM program at Texas Tech.”

Denim Runway Award Winners

Fashion Jeans Winners–Denim Runway 2011 Design Contest, Men’s and Women’s Fashion Jeans Winners, Lauren Hogan and Lauren McCgraw, receive their recognition plaques at the TECHstyle Fashion Show. Photo by Hallie Bertrand

Lauren Hogan, a senior ADM major from Corpus Christi, Texas, won the men’s jeans category, and Lauren McGraw, another senior ADM major from Midlothian, Texas, won the women’s jeans category. Hogan and McGraw will receive an expenses-paid trip to PCCA’s Denimatrix apparel facility in Guatemala where they will learn about and participate in each process used to create high fashion jeans. In addition, COTTON USA, a CCI program, will provide them an expenses-paid trip to the Colombiamoda apparel sourcing show in Medellin, Colombia.

Along with Collins, the Casual category panel of judges consisted of USDA-NRCS Public Affairs Specialist Quenna Terry, and Vice President of Business Development for the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce Robin Raney who also is a former buyer for an upscale national retailer.

“This is a premiere opportunity for apparel design students at Texas Tech to showcase their designs,” said Raney. “Interacting with the judges provides a real-world experience as the students discuss their design inspirations, marketing and pricing strategies, and construction,” she said. “Many of the designs showed tremendous ready-to-market potential,” she added.

Judges for the Cotton Trend Board competition were Kyla Sell of Lubbock, Mark Brown with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and Andrea Wilson, Vice President/Director of Account Services for The Price Group.

“Denim Runway is a way to engage students in a practical application of the career they’re interested in pursuing,”Wilson said. “I was amazed at the level of talent, creativity and professionalism coming from such a large number of students.”

Megan Curry, a senior ADM major from Dallas, Texas, won the Casual category, and Erica Medrano, a senior ADM major from Houston, Texas, won the Cotton Trend Board category. Both students received cash awards for their winning entries. Cherif Amor, Ph.D., and Chairman of the Department of Design, commented about the contest and its sponsors.

“We are excited to partner with Plains Cotton Cooperative Association and Cotton Council International on this project,” Amor said. “We have such talented students in our department, and this competition gives them opportunities beyond their wildest dreams while pedagogically competing for remarkable awards.”