Fashion Design School Opens Store in Downtown Area

Fashion design schools typically celebrate years of hard work by students in an end of the term fashion show, but one school is taking that sentiment a step further.

Kent State is boasting a new fashion store in downtown Kent, Ohio this month. The new store is unique among most fashion schools and is displaying and selling designs from the school’s past and present students, including clothing and fashion accessories.

“This is a real store that is selling product,” said Nancy Stanforth, the KSU associate professor of fashion design and merchandising who is quarterbacking the project.

The store is tucked into a modest, 750-square-foot space in Acorn Alley II, the expanded shopping mecca on Erie Street in downtown Kent.

The area is giving rise to a new hotel, parking deck, shops and businesses, with an esplanade linking the district to campus just an eighth-of-a-mile away.

Acorn Alley developer Ron Burbick got the project off the ground, asking area residents what kind of shops they wanted in the eclectic strip of small stores that now sell everything from popcorn to toys.

Some residents asked for “some connection to the fashion school,” he recalled. “They wanted to see what the students were doing and purchase their product.”

J.R. Campbell, director of the KSU School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, said the resulting store appears to be breaking new ground in the student-fashion industry.

He said he’s not aware of other off-campus retail outlets that focus on student products.

“We’re constantly trying to push the limits and learn something new,” Campbell said.

(Read more: College campus opens fashion school store)

Students and teachers are contributing to the merchandise selection in the store, but the school says that teacher fashions are donations only. Students are paid for their work and some are already planning to push the limits for their new store during school and following their graduation.