Bridging the gap: First product development graduates join global industry

Diana Luna with people in colorful native dress
Student Diana Luna, second from left, at the trade show Colombiamoda in July 2017 in Medellin, Colombia.

The Department of Design and Merchandising introduced a new concentration in product development in 2014, part of the apparel and merchandising major. Fast forward to fall 2017, and the first class of students is graduating. The concentration, inspired by needs in the apparel and footwear industry, seeks to teach students how to navigate the global manufacturing landscape as well as bridge the gap between designers and merchandisers.

The modern industry professional has to collaborate with vendors and companies all over the world to take a designer’s idea and get it to a merchandiser for sale while innovating along the way to develop the best product possible.

Juyeon Park is an associate professor who is leading the product development concentration and teaches junior- and senior-level courses.

“For successful product development, a product developer must consider the multiple facets of consumer and market needs,” said Park. “This includes the target consumer’s demographics, lifestyle, and functional and aesthetic preferences; the company’s SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; as well as the contemporary and future trends of new materials and technology. Therefore, it is vital not only to teach students all critical skills, but also how to orchestrate various components of tasks effectively in the complex global manufacturing system. I am very excited to see how this graduating cohort will develop their careers in the field of product development.”

Learn more about the first cohort of graduates below.

Johnny Camacho

Johnny sitting on the Admin Building steps
Johnny Camacho

Johnny Camacho has been a part of four different majors during his time at CSU, but apparel and merchandising was the one that stuck with him. He enjoys prototyping, saying, “It’s one of the most interesting parts of product development. We spend countless hours perfecting something, and that will always be satisfying and rewarding.”

In his capstone study, Camacho looked at the possibility of developing a set of street shoes with the integration of wearable technology, which would be able to count your steps and heart rates, similar to the fitbit or tomtom interface.

Last summer, he was able to intern in Los Angeles with parent company Kash Apparel. Kash Apparel owns several brands, including SOCIALITE, #OOTD, Honey Punch, and others. In collaboration with Kash Apparel, Comacho is developing a high-end men’s streetwear line. He has been hired as head menswear designer, and will be moving to Los Angeles upon graduating.

Mallory Dill

Mallory standing in front of a decorative wall
Mallory Dill

Mallory Dill is a Fort Collins native, but transferred to CSU after two years of playing collegiate volleyball at Fort Lewis College in Durango. She has served as the president of CSU’s Fashion Group International, and was able to take part in the Department of Design and Merchandising’s recent trip to New York City. On the trip, Dill was able to meet distinguished alumni and make connections in the industry.

She’s also been able to work with a local sports event company, Triple Crown Sports, for the last two and a half years and will be joining them for a full-time position as the merchandise production director when she graduates. Her capstone project centered around an intimates line inspired by zodiac signs and called “When Your Stars Align.” The samples process was covered by 3D prototypes that have the potential to save time and money in product development.

Luke Koppa

Luke Koppa doing a jump on skis
Luke Koppa

Luke Koppa grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, spending most of his time playing rugby or soccer and enjoying outdoor activities ranging from fishing to climbing to skiing. When he came to CSU in 2014, he was attracted to CSU’s Apparel and Merchandising program as well as the nearby Rocky Mountains.

“As soon as I had any sort of discretionary income, I started spending hours researching products and reviews online,” explains Koppa. “I always had a particular interest in apparel, and when the product development concentration was announced I knew it was going to be very applicable to my career goals.”

Koppa is interested in designing technical apparel for outdoor activities and hopes to one day manage the snow sports or climbing line for a leading outdoor apparel brand. His capstone study included research on men’s skiwear that would provide high performance yet breathability in use. His experience with the outdoor industry has spanned most of the past five years and includes retail, a summer internship with a local backpack and apparel company named Topo Designs, and most recently at Blister Review. Blister is a company that produces in-depth reviews of outdoor products ranging from mountain biking to ski touring.

Next semester, Koppa will also be working with designer Hillary Glenn, a CSU graduate from the Apparel and Merchandising program, where he will help with design, tech packs, and supply chain management.

Megan Lloyd

Megan Lloyd in CSU shirt
Megan Lloyd

Megan Lloyd is a Canadian international student who hails from St. Catharines, Ontario. After starting in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, she transferred to apparel and merchandising to study how sportswear products transition into everyday use. In particular, Lloyd is interested in competitive swimwear construction and materials. Her capstone study drew from her experience as a competitive collegiate swimmer on CSU’s swimming and diving team, and she designed a professional swimsuit line after analyzing the fit and comfort of several current swim pieces on college athletes using 3D body scanning technology.

During her time at CSU, Lloyd has been able to intern with CSU alumna CJ Riggins, Redline Design, and HEYDAY. She looks forward to interning with the Woolmark Company in New York City during the spring semester. She has recently learned that she is a recipient of 2018 YMA Fashion Scholarship based on her design entry to the case study competition, and the scholarship will support her internship in New York.

Diana Luna

Diana Luna is a non-traditional student originally from Columbia who has been working in the industry since 2001. When she was 15 years old, Luna began working in manufacturing, then continued work as a designer. She is studying product development to create innovative products.

“I am eternally grateful to find a profession that connects my lifelong passion of design with the aspiration to create a change,” said Luna.

She has been able to work with numerous companies, including Dyson, Macy’s Inc., Acosta Marketing, Cabela’s, Old Navy, Big Star Denim, and others. She hopes to continue working in the conceptualization, design, and technical processing of newly created or rebranded goods.

Gretchen Shephard

Black and white picture of Gretchen Shephard with patterned stone
Gretchen Shepard

Gretchen Shephard grew up in Evergreen, Colorado, where she was able to adventure through the outdoor world and spark a lifelong journey with creativity. After arriving at college, she knew that she needed an innovative major that would feed her passions for travel, photography, and exploring new horizons. Shepard studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and learned the skill of straw hat making while she was there. In addition, she expanded her knowledge of footwear and fashion while in the new location.

Shephard’s capstone project centered around how people arrive at new locations, by foot. She studied a Chelsea boot that could replace the sole as it wore out or the needs of the user changed throughout seasons or location, and she created a transformative outsole prototype using 3D printing. To this goal, she will be doing her internship with ISA TanTec Leather Co. at their locations in Guangzhou, China, and Vietnam next semester.

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