Column: University of Mississippi should offer a fashion merchandising specialization

Fashion inspiration wall by Dania Nunez. Photo taken by Dania Nunez.

Dania Nunez
Oxford Stories

The University of Mississippi is known for having one of the best accounting schools in the country. Ole Miss is also known as the “Harvard of the South” for its outstanding law program. The university, however, is lacking in the fashion department.

During one of my IMC 205 classes, my professor introduced us to some upcoming IMC classes. Mr. Scott Fiene, who is the assistant dean for curriculum and assessment, listed just a slide full of 300-level IMC courses. One included IMC 361 Fashion Promotion. I immediately got in my course favorites and added the class. I knew this was going to be the closest I could get to a fashion course at this school.

Mr. Fiene continued to speak about how the university is talking about adding a fashion specialization in the IMC department. I can almost guarantee that so many students would switch to fashion merchandising if they could. Over the years, I have heard so many friends saying how they are majoring in hospitality or IMC because Ole Miss does not offer the major.

Not many people notice, but there are a lot of trendy girls on campus. Just go to the Grove on game day, and you can see for yourself. Even on a daily basis, you can see stylish people on campus. I catch myself admiring the girl in my group project’s Adidas Falcon sneakers, a hot shoe on the market right now. Or I notice the stack of Hermes and David Yurman cuffs on the wrist of the girl standing next to me in line for coffee. Many girls at Ole Miss really do have a passion for fashion.

IMC 361 Fashion Promotion class at Ole Miss. Photo by Dania Nunez.

Because of the lack of fashion opportunities, students try to involve themselves any way they can. Most fashion careers often require at least one year in retail. So, you often see an IMC major working at a local boutique on the Square. The girl sitting next to you in class could have a major following on Instagram, and she uses her account to advertise products. Your pledge sister could work for her mom’s leather exporting company when she is home for winter break. There is so much fashion potential at the university.

Not only should the university add fashion merchandising, but also other specializations and courses. There should be sewing basics, design, retail, buying and selling, and so many more classes. Some people do not know what they want to do as a career, but know they want to work in fashion. Just having a class that explores fashion careers could help students figure it out. Maybe they would be interested in design, or if they do not feel like they are creative enough for that, they could work on the business side of things and specialize in buying and selling. Just educating the student body could be very beneficial. After all, I am sure the university does not want students to leave only to flourish elsewhere.

Just adding this Fashion Promotion class is a step forward into the right direction. More and more people are hearing about this course and are signing up. I rave about it when people ask me about classes I am taking. This class is really getting me excited to start my career. My professor teaches us about targeting and positioning, buying plans, sales promotion, and so much more. Just being in this class is helping me determine what fashion field I want to specialize in. I am kind of inspired to start my own brand one day. I do not know exactly what I want to do in life, but this one class is helping me explore my options.

Professor Sherman teaching his IMC 361 class on how to set up a 6 month budget plan. Photo by Dania Nunez

There is also a fashion club at the school. The University of Mississippi Fashion Society was created in 2015. The club was actually started by IMC major Britanee Wallace, another example of how IMC majors want more fashion opportunities. In an article written by Jordan Dollenger, Wallace stated the club’s mission statement: “The goal of the University of Mississippi Fashion Society is to promote diversity through understanding the positive influence, training and self-confidence fashion instills in every individual,” Randall said. “It is our belief that fashion is not something that exists in garments alone. Fashion surrounds us. It is in the sky, on the streets. Fashion is a collection of our ideas, the way we live our lives, and the events that happen around us.”

Fashion is not just about an article of clothing. Fashion is a form of creative expression. To some, it is an art form. The University of Mississippi would benefit tremendously if they expanded their fashion department. So many students here want to get involved in fashion. This industry has so many career options. Not many people realize all of the work that goes on.

Miranda Priestly explains it best in the iconic movie “The Devil Wears Prada” when talking about her assistant’s sweater: “But what you don’t know is that sweater is not just blue. It’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns, and then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent who showed cerulean military jackets, and then cerulean quickly shot up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it filtered down through department stores, and then trickled on down onto some tragic Casual Corner where you no doubt fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think you made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”


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