Fashion students gain global competence

Kiana Roppe

Many industries have become more global, rather than regional, due to fair trade.

This includes the fashion industry, as proven on every clothing tag that says “Made in China.” To prepare students for international communication in their careers, Textiles & Clothing 372 — Sourcing and Global Issues — is required of all apparel students.

The class challenges the students to improve their time management, organization and most importantly, improve their global competence.

It is taught by Elena Karpova, assistant professor of apparel, events and hospitality management. She has been teaching the class since 2005. 

The most significant part of the class is a three-part team project that Karpova assigns the students in the fall. The catch is that each team is made up of students in the class at Iowa State as well as fashion students from Australia and South Africa.

“I really wanted to have an experiential component in the class,” Karpova said.

The first part of the project is individual. Each team member must create a PowerPoint about themselves and post it on Blackboard for the whole team to see. Karpova said the point of this was to introduce the students so they can be more comfortable communicating.

“I thought it was really neat to read about the other people in my group and look at their pictures,” said Colbi Lynch, senior in apparel, merchandising and design.

For the second part of the project, students choose three of their values and write a paragraph about them. This gets posted on Blackboard as well and then the students must agree on three values as a team. Karpova said she does this to show how alike ISU students and foreign students are, contrary to popular belief.

Then finally, the students are assigned a project that directly relates to the fashion industry. Last fall the students had to propose a new sustainable business as a group. To do this, they communicated through email to choose the business and create a powerpoint proposal.

“When I talk with students from other countries, it makes me realize how many aspects of fashion there are,” Lynch said.

Karpova said the project gave students real-world practice with communicating across time zones and culture barriers. The class meets Iowa State’s international perspectives requirement and is only open to apparel majors.

“I will be keeping in touch with the group members from the other countries,” said Jamie Brass, senior in apparel, merchandising and design. “I plan on visiting them in the coming years.”