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Fashion Design students create seasonal collections based on private label designs from Bon-Ton.

Empowering, boisterous, energetic and vibrant - that's how student designer Tamara Sanchez describes the spring and summer fashion collections she created for youth.

Sanchez and 13 other students in the Fashion Design II class spent the semester creating seasonal collections based upon private label designs from Bon-Ton.

As a final presentation, the students presented their ideas to four designers who produce private label designs for lines such as as Exertek, Le Tigre and Paradise Collection at Bon-Ton's downtown Milwaukee offices.

In their presentation, students stated the case for their designs using the following criteria:

  • How did their garments fit into the existing brand?
  • How do the styles, fabric and patterns appeal to customers?
  • How are the colors based upon 2017 seasonal and trend palettes?
  • What were the design elements and detailing that made their work stand out?


"By working closely with the actual designers of the private labels, they are getting as close to real-life industry practices as they can within the classroom." Laura Kane, Instructor, Fashion Design II

Tamara explained how elements of summer - such as a bright scoop of raspberry sherbet - inspired her colors and themes. Her designs for boys featured lightning bolts and racecar-themed prints - "racing cars were a really big inspiration for me."

Students worked hard to understand the tastes and interests of specific brand customers, looking beyond conventional fashion forecasts to find themes within popular culture that would resonate within specific niches.

Spy-themed designs and colors inspired by ocean landscapes were among the student ideas brought before the Bon-Ton panelists.

"I like your understanding of the fabrics and the consumer," designer Chris Farris told Ashley Lehnen after she presented her coastal-themed blues, greys and greens within her Paradise Collection ideas for casual menswear.

"The purpose of this class is to teach our fashion students how to design for existing brands and a specific customer; they have to apply what they've learned about trend forecasting, technical garment design, and computer illustration throughout this whole project and design outside of their comfort zone," said instructor Laura Kane.

The designers at Bon-Ton have been generous enough to meet with the students several times throughout the course of the semester as mentors.

"By working closely with the actual designers of the private labels, they are getting as close to real-life industry practices as they can within the classroom," Kane said.

The experts included:

  • Chris Farris, Mens and Boys sportswear designer,
  • Tim McDonald, Senior designer for Men's and Kid's
  • Colleen Conway, designer for girls
  • Angela DeMeyer `05, infant and newborn apparel designer, who graduated from Mount Mary University in 2005.

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