Pictured (front row, l,r) are April Vidal, of Nashville; Peyton Ross, of Caruthersville, Missouri; and Madeleine Haynes, of Halls; (back row, l,r) Dr. Mercan Derafshi, assistant professor of fashion merchandising; Jordan Snyder, of Arlington; Elizabeth Bass, of Moscow; Olivia Pierce, of Paris; and Nyx De La Cerda, of Somerville. Not pictured is Ameer Gray, of Murfreesboro.

Fashion Merchandising students attend Las Vegas MagicMart Trade Show

MagicMart, located in Las Vegas, is the most comprehensive fashion trade show in the country. This year, eight fashion merchandising students from the University of Tennessee at Martin made their first trip and met with brand representatives, attended educational sessions and got a first look at the upcoming fashion trends.

The trade show, which was held in the Las Vegas Convention Center, featured three different halls: one dedicated to the brands’ booths and educational sessions, one dedicated to men’s wear and streetwear and one dedicated to materials and sustainability. Students visited booths belonging to established and up-and-coming brands such as Pura Vida, Ugg, and Wasabi + Mint, networked with brand representatives and learned about topics important to their studies, such as perfecting their brand pitch and forecasting upcoming trends.

When Peyton Ross, a senior from Caruthersville, Missouri, began studying fashion merchandising, she never expected to meet a personality from one of her favorite television shows, let alone receive professional advice from one.

“I actually got to meet one of the Real Housewives from New Jersey, Melissa Gorga, and I got to take a picture with her. I kind of fangirled over that a little bit, just because anyone who knows me, I’m always watching any of (the cast members), doesn’t matter which one,” Ross said. “I know she has a big platform, but she still knows how to utilize that and talk about her platform, and she knows how to pitch very well. You have to be able to pitch something, and you have to be able to perfect it, and she can do that.”

Outside of the trade show, students visited various boutiques and did assignments for various courses based on their observations. For example, students in the visual merchandising course paid attention to the displays and cleanliness of the stores, and students in the ready-to-wear clothing course took note of individual garments, their production and care instructions. Students also had the opportunity to enjoy the city by shopping at local boutiques and having dinner at Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen.

Although Ross had an interest in fashion and a drive to keep up with trends, fashion did not come to her as an immediate major choice. It wasn’t until she found out about UT Martin’s fashion merchandising program that she considered a career in fashion.

“I was just struggling so hard to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life that wouldn’t feel like a chore, and I wouldn’t get tired of going to work,” Ross said. “I saw that Martin had a fashion program, and I was like, ‘This is perfect. I love what I’m gonna do. I will never get tired of it.’ There’s something new every single day being invented in fashion that people don’t even realize with fabrics or anything like that.”

The trip was an opportunity for Ross to learn more about the industry she is passionate about and prepare for her future career in fashion forecasting. Fashion forecasters analyze popular forms of media, interior design and architecture to try to forecast what colors and styles will be on trend for the next year.

“Seeing (industry professionals) and the fashion forecasters and the other speakers talk, it just made me love fashion even more, and it makes me so excited about graduating college and getting started into the industry,” Ross said.

Because of the outcome of this year’s trip, other yearly trips will be planned for students to travel regionally, nationally, and even internationally.

“I am a strong proponent of experiential learning, and travel aids the learning process,” Dr. Dr. Mercan Derafshi, assistant professor of fashion merchandising and organizer of the trip, said.

For more information about UT Martin’s fashion merchandising program, contact Derafshi at mderafsh@utm.edu.


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