UNT fashion design students will soon see their clothes on the runway in China.
UNT is the only American university invited to participate in the 2007 China (Guangdong) University Fashion Fair May 29 through June 3.
UNT chose two fashion design seniors, Sun Eun Chung and Shala Ballew, to display their finest garments at this fashion expo in mainland China, an annual event that showcases some of China's best student design talent.
About 12 different fashion shows will take place during the fair, culminating with the Famory Cup eveningwear competition June 2. More than 10,000 people, including industry representatives, are expected to attend.
Ballew and Chung, who are in the School of Visual Arts, won the trip in a design competition in March. They will join 35 UNT students from the School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management and College of Business Administration who are enrolled in the university's intensive Hong Kong/China summer study abroad program.
Dee Knight, an assistant professor in the School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management, says it's unusual for American students to be included in the China University Fashion Fair.
"We are definitely pioneers in this area," Knight says. "This is a venue where about 18 universities in China have a huge extravaganza to spotlight the work of their students in fashion, photography, textiles - the whole gamut."
Faculty members Knight; Lou Pelton, an associate professor of marketing and logistics; and Joe Lynn Johnson, a management professor; planned the study abroad trip and will teach relevant merchandising and marketing courses in Hong Kong and China.
The three-week program, in its fifth year, forged solid relationships and trust that led Chinese officials to extend the exclusive fashion fair invitation to UNT.
"There are no other universities doing what we do," Knight says of the study abroad program, which includes tours of Asian factories and allows students to observe the apparel supply chain from fiber manufacture through shipment of finished garments. "We're the only ones. We go where no others are invited to go."
She says the fair's organizers wanted them to bring 40 to 48 student garments but that wasn't logistically feasible this year. So they're starting "small," with about half that number and hope to expand in the future.
Chung and Ballew are each sending four ensembles, which range from ready-to-wear to haute couture, says Li-Fen "Anny" Chang, an assistant professor of fashion design in the School of Visual Arts who will accompany the students on this trek near her homeland. Chang is from Taipei, Taiwan, but has never been to mainland China.
In addition to Ballew and Chung's design-winning garments, Chang is bringing about 20 outfits made by last year's fashion design seniors who are now UNT alumni.
The garments are being packed and shipped overseas this week for the six-day fair held at the China Fabric & Accessories Center in Guangzhou, Guandong Province's capital city, formerly known as Canton to the western world.
"I'm terribly excited," says Ballew of Abilene, who began making clothes at the age of 4 when her great-grandmother taught her how to sew. "I'm looking forward to showing my collection the most. But if I get a chance to see the Great Wall of China, that will be tops."
Chung, who emigrated from South Korea and now calls Frisco, Texas, home, is also thrilled about the opportunity.
"I think it's a great honor," she says. "I enjoy creating new designs and showing my designs and ideas to people."
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Contact: Linda Ball (940) 369-7361