Celebrating 100 Years of Educating Industry Leaders

In 1917, the North Carolina College for Women—as UNCG was known at the time—established the School of Home Economics and, as part of the School, created the Department of Clothing and Textiles and Housing, which coincided with the textile and apparel industry’s expansion throughout the American Southeast. The department would later be named Clothing and Textiles until the early 1990s, when it became the Department of Textile Products Design and Marketing. The department was given its current name, Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS), in 2005.

During the past 100 years, the department and the industry have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship—one that will be showcased by the CARS Department as it recognizes this significant milestone with an impressive bevy of centennial celebrations throughout the 2017-18 academic year.

“This is a communal effort, with industry representatives, faculty, advancement, alumni, and students all contributing,” according to CARS Department Head Dr. Nancy Hodges. “In fact, we wanted to engage students in the planning process as much as possible,” Hodges explains, “so we put out a call last fall for CARS students to submit their ideas for a centennial logo. Of the forty-five submissions, we ended up combining the various elements of four into one final design that we have used on all of our event marketing.”

 An Evening of Fun, Food, and Fashion

The first centennial event will start with a gala dinner, silent auction, and fashion show on Friday, September 29, at the Revolution Mill Events Center in Greensboro―a former cotton and denim mill owned by the Cone Family. The evening begins at 6:00 with hors d’oeuvres and a chance to mingle with CARS faculty and alumni while bidding on silent auction items. Guests are encouraged to wear “creatively formal” attire to the event, which will include a buffet dinner and entertainment in the form of a salon-style fashion show depicting styles created by current and former students.

“The fashion show is a result of a call we put out to current and former students, as well as to faculty, to submit designs inspired by the department’s ten decades of history,” says Hodges. “We received roughly fifty submissions, and selected twenty-five for inclusion in the show.” Life-sized mannequins draped in clothing pieces from the department’s Historic Costume Collection will also be on display, alongside a high-tech display of 3-D technology that morphs historic designs into contemporary fashion, created by CARS graduates currently working at VF Corporation. VF is one of the platinum event sponsors, along with Hanes Brands and other local businesses.

Proceeds from the silent auction will go to the Industry Ready fund, which was established to support CARS student development and department initiatives. “All of the centennial events will highlight our partnerships with local companies like VF Corporation, which recently helped CARS receive a major gift of the innovative 3-D prototyping software that will be on display at the gala,” says Hodges. Donations to the fund will allow the department to provide its students access to such technologies alongside the most up-to-date curriculum. According to Hodges, this gives CARS students a competitive edge in the industry’s job market.

Cutting-Edge Scholarship Symposium

In recognition of the CARS Ph.D. program, one of the oldest on the UNCG campus, the CARS Department will host a symposium beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 29, at the UNCG Alumni House. A panel of Ph.D. alumni, now distinguished faculty at universities throughout the United States, will discuss the future of higher education in apparel and textiles. “The focus will be on what we need to consider from the past 100 years as we look toward the next 100 years,” says Hodges. The panel will be followed by presentations of research, innovative teaching, and conceptual papers given by Ph.D. alumni and current students until 3:00 p.m., allowing plenty of time to attend the gala centennial dinner in the evening. Papers will continue all day Saturday, September 30, concluding with a reception.

Assessing the Future of Retail

On Friday, October 6, the global market research company NPD will host “Retail 2022,” bringing Marshal Cohen, their chief industry analyst, to the UNCG campus to speak about the issues affecting retail and the five-year outlook for the industry. The talk will be followed by a vanguard panel discussion that includes high-level representatives, including presidents and vice presidents from Hanes Brands, Belk, and VF. A career fair that same day featuring recruiters from Target, Belk, Hanes, Macy’s, NPD, Renfro, VF, and Global Brands Group will offer students the chance to share their resumes and make meaningful industry connections.

Speakers from Across the Spectrum

Throughout the year, the department will host a monthly Alumni Industry Speaker Series, bringing alumni who are working in the fashion and apparel related industries back to campus. Keynoters include a celebrity stylist from Los Angeles and a costume conservator from the Smithsonian Museum. “By attending these events,” explains Hodges, “we expect that students will expand their horizons about what kind of career paths they can pursue with a CARS degree.”

Year of Celebration Capped by Industry Summit

Centennial events will culminate with the Spring 2018 CARS Industry Summit, a day-long series of events hosted by the department’s seventeen-member industry advisory board. “Our advisory board was established in the early 1980s to keep us connected not only to the latest fashion industry and business trends but also to the people who are making things happen,” explains Hodges. “The board is one of the oldest in the field and on campus.” The summit will focus on the role of the CARS program in preparing graduates to make an impact on the industry of the future. Hodges notes that this day provides a unique opportunity for students to connect with industry executives, including a case competition and time for one-on-one engagement with board members during a networking lunch.

For more information about the CARS centennial events and to purchase tickets, please visit cars100.uncg.edu.