Kelsee Morefield's "Most Marketable" Design Gives Real-World Fashion Experience
Written by Bill Loftus
When Kelsee Morefield graduates this spring with her clothing, textiles and design degree, she’ll enter the career world with some real life experience typical of those faced by clothing designers.
Morefield found the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Science’s Clothing, Textiles and Design program tailor made for helping her pursue her goal to land a job in the apparel industry. The teaching team of Susan Torntore, left; Lori Wahl, who connected in remotely from her Portland, Ore., studio; Erika Iiams, and Sandra Evenson, the school’s interim director and professor, provided the academic and practical experience to help Morefield reach her goal.
A College of Agricultural and Life Sciences ambassador, Morefield gained invaluable experience both in the classroom and during activities far from the Moscow campus that will inspire her future choices.
In January, Morefield, a senior in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, braved a blizzard and the frozen Palouse to drive to Spokane for a flight to Salt Lake City and its famous Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.
In a Project Runway-like challenge known as Project OR, Morefield and five other young women designers competed to develop innovative women’s back-country ski pants designs. Their challenge: respond to a request for a garment design from the customer’s brief through concept to completed garment, all in 48 hours.
“It was a super tight timeline, but things like this do happen when you’re working for an employer. There may be this great idea and a wonderful presentation opportunity but the time between can be short,” Wahl said.
“If you can work well and make good decisions in a short amount of time you become a more efficient designer and product developer.”
The other student designers represented Kansas State, Savannah College of Art and Design, Auburn University, University of Cincinnati and San Francisco State University.
The judges called Morefield’s design the most marketable of the contest, a consolation for finishing out of the top two, but a nod to her career goal to produce customer-oriented clothing.
In addition to Wahl’s presence at the event, Morefield had help from instructor Erika Iiams to prepare. Iiams taught Morefield the basics of using industrial sewing machines, which were used by all Project OR participants.
The School of Family and Consumer Sciences is trying to equip its clothing, textile, and design studio with industrial machines to more accurately reflect the machines used in the garment development process and production in the apparel industry, Wahl noted.
Morefield, a native of Burns, Ore., will walk across the stage during University of Idaho commencement ceremonies in May and two weeks later will report for work at Aventura Clothing in Reno, Nev. The eco-friendly women’s clothing line was launched in 2005 by outdoor apparel manufacturer Sportif USA.
As a CALS ambassador, Morefield visited high schools to help students consider their future educational options and to tell them about her opportunities and options at the University of Idaho.
Among her opportunities at Idaho, Morefield took instructor Lori Wahl’s summer capstone class, Special Topics: Apparel Design and Development for a Client. As a member of a design team in summer 2011, Morefield faced an unusual challenge: designing uniforms for a women’s roller derby team, the Rolling Hills Derby Dames.
An active member of the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) student chapter at the University of Idaho, her garments were featured in the ITAA Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show in 2011.
The summer class and the January Project OR Winter Market trip that was supported by the school were tremendous assets in her education and transition to a career, Morefield said.
“They were extremely important,” she said. “probably the two most beneficial experiences I had to prepare me for a future career. They were a lot like real life situations.
“It was nice to have a shortened version of what is happening in the industry, and what essentially most of us will be doing for careers someday, she said.
Her connection with Aventura began at Project OR Winter Market. The company had sponsored the event the previous summer and representatives stopped by to talk with Morefield and her fellow participants in January.
“They invited me to stop by their booth at the show and I did. I started emailing with them when I got back. They invited me down for an interview and a few days later offered me the job,” she said.
As a production assistant/technical designer, Morefield will work with the company’s design and production team to help evaluate garment fit and construction.
“I’m just really excited,” she added. “It worked out well.”