Apparel and merchandising students attend the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in Denver thanks to support from donors

Students pose in front of the Outdoor Retailer sign

Faculty and students from the Colorado State University Department of Design and Merchandising eagerly await the opportunity to attend the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show each January. The excitement this year was even more palpable as students, faculty, and industry professionals returned to the Denver Convention Center after a long hiatus of in-person events and tradeshows due to the pandemic. This year, over 30 students and seven faculty and staff members from the Apparel and Merchandising Program were able to attend the show.

3 students listen to a presentation from a vendor and look at samples

Opportunities at Outdoor Retailer

Outdoor Retailer is the largest global B2B (business-to-business) trade event serving the outdoor industry. Because it is hosted in Denver each year, CSU students are able to attend the event while learning from CSU alumni and attending faculty. Hundreds of “brands, retailers, decision makers, designers, and key stakeholders gather to do business and have important conversations that influence our future.”

Students have a unique opportunity to listen in on those conversations and observe how the apparel and product development industry operates. This year, students had in-depth discussions with suppliers focused on technological advancements, textile science innovations, and leading sustainability advancements. They were able to ask questions of vendors and retailers and interact with experts in the field.

Students learning about textile technology from the Acteev booth

A valued chance to connect

The Outdoor Retailer Snow Show was a bit more subdued this year due to ongoing concerns about Covid-19, with several companies choosing not to attend. But several alumni of CSU who work in the industry were in attendance this year.

Students and faculty had the chance to connect with alumni and friends of the department at a happy hour event hosted by the Department of Design and Merchandising. This was the first chance for alumni and faculty to reunite since the start of the pandemic. Many students had the opportunity to talk with alumni and learn about their transition from student to outdoor industry professional.

DM faculty, staff, and alumni gather at Happy Hour

Donors add to the student experience

The opportunity to attend the show and engage in a rich learning experience with the industry was generously provided by the Esparza Family Merchandising Partnership Fund. The fund was started by Karen and Andy Esparza in honor of their daughter Sarah, a 2015 graduate in apparel and merchandising and the College of Health and Human Sciences Outstanding Senior for that year.

The alumni event was also funded in part by other private donors and provided an excellent opportunity for connection among the university and outdoor apparel communities.

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.