Anyone who has heard of Miami University has associated the university with the stereotype known as "J-Crew U." A typical male student could be observed wearing a pair of Sperry's boat shoes paired with salmon-colored shorts from Ralph Lauren, a button-down collared shirt with some sort of pattern plastered all over it, a baseball cap and a pair of Ray Bans sunglasses.
However, Miami has introduced many fashion-related programs and organizations allowing students to create their own brand of Miami's fashion sense, as well as be as creative as they want and become involved in something that interests them.
What started out as Miami University Club of Fashion and Design (MUCFD) in 2006 sparked the interest in fashion programs at the university. Now known as one of Miami's "best student organizations" according to Miami University Fashion & Design's website, the members of the organization were a large influence in the addition of the fashion minor at Miami in 2014. Then, in 2016, the organization worked with faculty to add three fashion co-majors as well.
MUFD advertises their success of the addition of the fashion programs during their meetings. According to current MUFD president Rachel Steed, they encourage involvement by bringing in fashion faculty to speak about the program and by passing along information about courses to members.
Steed joined MUFD as a freshman after she saw their table at Mega Fair. "I've always loved fashion and wanted to explore and learn more about it while at school!" she said.
This is a common reason why many students join the organization. MUFD consists of 490 registered members on the Hub and 260 active members who regularly attend meetings and are a part of one of the many committees offered. There are many ways to be involved, and students are able to choose what aspect of the fashion industry they'd like to focus on. MUFD offers committees such as graphic design, marketing, finance, modeling and more.
The advertisement of on-campus fashion organizations has allowed students to explore their interests and expand their knowledge of the fashion industry. MUFD contributes to the extracurricular aspect of fashion, but members wanted to push for something in the academic aspect.
Although the introduction of the co-majors and minor is largely due to the efforts of the members in MUFD, they're not the only ones who pushed for the addition. Finding the right faculty and getting the co-majors and minors approved by the school was a long journey.
"[It] entailed lots of paperwork!" said Leslie Stoel, one of the founders of the fashion programs.
She has worked with fashion designer and colleague Della Reams to develop a "curriculum that would introduce students to the foundational concepts that underlie a career in fashion," and that became the fashion minor.
As for the three co-majors, they relied on data from a survey sent to the students involved in MUFD during the spring of 2015. From this survey, Stoel learned that students were mostly interested in the business and retail aspect of the fashion industry, but that there was a small group interested in design and another small group interested in starting their own fashion business. Thus, the Fashion Corporate Business, Fashion Design and Fashion Entrepreneurship co-majors were born.
"The program built up very quickly once Della and I arrived," Stoel said. "We were very strategic in developing the program, making sure the minor served as the core for the co-major."
"We had over 100 students for our second semester and maxed out at 200 students our third semester," she added. The fashion minor and co-majors are a great way for students to integrate their love for fashion into their career path.
The academic programs are housed within the College of Creative Arts, giving students a chance to pursue fashion as a career in the future. Stoel and Reams have recently been working with Miami's Farmer School of Business to make sure students are able to complete both their required core classes and marketing classes.
As of right now, there are 220 students involved in the fashion programs. The Fashion Corporate Business track is the most popular with about 90 students. The other two co-major tracks have about a dozen students in each, and the remainder are in the minor. Stoel and her colleague Reams are constantly working to make the fashion programs at Miami a continuing success.
"It has been an amazing experience so far — the students are great, and the alums are fantastic!" Stoel said. "We have had outstanding support from every possible constituency for the fashion program, and the result is that we are able to offer better and better experiences for the fashion students all the time."