Storefronts brightened by students’ creative designs

Several WSU student designs in the storefront window of a local retailer in Pullman.
Several designs in the storefront window of a local retailer, including a sweater made from socks, left, and a faux-fur rainbow dress, middle.

The positive “town and gown” relationship between Washington State University and Pullman was recently on full display — literally — in downtown store windows.

For two weekends, six shops offered up valuable window space in their storefronts to show off designs created by students in WSU’s Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles (AMDT).

“We have a great relationship with retailers in town,” said AMDT Assistant Professor Armine Ghalachyan. “They employ our students and serve as judges in the annual AMDT Fashion Show, so we know them well. This was a great opportunity for students to show off their creative work.”

A window display, including a chainmail mini-dress made of soda can tabs.
A window display, including a chainmail mini-dress made of soda can tabs.

The idea originated from small business owner Michele Jandi Utzman, who asked Ghalachyan about projects that could be displayed for Pullman’s First Friday art event on Oct. 6. Michelle’s Closet, Dance in Motion, Kure & Co., Monarch Boutique, Dregs Vintage, and Lily Bees all participated.

“As business owners, we enjoy celebrating the skills of the students and learning about the education they receive at WSU,” Utzman said. “It is part of what makes operating in a college town so special.”

The showcase included 22 designs created by 19 different students. Store owners picked designs they thought would look good in their windows. One proprietor said many people stopped to take pictures of the students’ designs, which were displayed through Oct. 13–15 for WSU Homecoming.

Sustainability, a major focus of the AMDT department, was the theme for displays. Materials ranged from traditional to unusual.

“One student made a beautiful skirt from the shipping materials included in online clothing purchases,” Ghalachyan said. “And some designs weren’t even done for class or independent study: they were individual works of creativity, like a sweater made of cut up socks that had worn out.”

The project helped students prepare for future careers in the industry and provided a sense of accomplishment.

“It’s a great way for students to show off their skills, creativity, and hard work,” Ghalachyan said. “Having designs included in the showcase is also a great way to enhance the students’ resumes and portfolios. Many took photos of their displays to show their families and friends. It’s a great validation for the time they’ve spent on these creations.”

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