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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Design students at MSU got the chance to learn from one of the industry’s top designers as they prepare for a fashion competition.

Television shows like “Project Runway” have put both fashion design and competition in the spotlight. Now, Mississippi State students are preparing for their own contest. Their challenge is to take travel wear away from its typical synthetic material to a cotton based material.

“So what we’ve been doing is have the students do research to find out what’s out there in travel wear and then to pick a garment with which they could create a comparable garment made out of cotton,” says Phyllis Bell Miller, Professor of Apparel, Textiles & Merchandising Program.

Ellen Sheppard is the lead apparel developer for REI and held a workshop with MSU design students.

“I think that coming in and reminding them that the skills that they come out of school with, are going to be able to be applied in so many ways to so many different jobs and that there are opportunities wherever they go,” says Sheppard.

Sarah Ashley Bealor is a MSU senior, design student.

“Having her tell me ideas that I could add into my garments or how to make them more functional for traveling. Since it’s not something I had much experience in other than the research I’ve done prior to this. So that was very helpful,” says Bealor.

Sheppard oversees the execution of all sportswear collections for REI. She was also the creative director for brands like Horny Toad Activewear and The Territory Ahead. Sheppard also lectured on the personal career process and career opportunities in the fashion industry.

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