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Why Pursuing Fashion at Miami Makes Sense

By Chloe Emberton

Chunky Sweaters, UP Magazine Photoshoot (November 2023)

Photography by: Lily Hoffman, Styled by: Paulina Adams

Upon entering Boyd Hall, home of Miami University’s fashion department, the character of the building and its students becomes quickly apparent. The cement walls are covered in fabric scraps and colorful posters. The imaginative side of college students, such as Sarah Janeck, is brought to life. Janeck, a sophomore, is a fashion co-major at Miami. 

“I have always been interested in fashion,” Janeck said. “There hasn’t been a time where I have questioned that. As a freshman, I couldn’t see myself doing a lot of things but fashion was always in the back of my head. I just didn’t know how realistic it was to make a career out of it. It makes sense at Miami because it pairs well with so many other majors.”

Fashion can not be studied as an independent major at Miami. Instead, it is recognized as a possible co-major for students. The co-major program requires students to pursue two areas of study to enhance their career potential. The program is led by Leslie Stoel, a professor of Fashion and Marketing at Miami University, and Della Reams, co-coordinator of Miami University’s fashion co-major.

Stoel did not originally start in the academic field. Before pursuing her teaching career at the University of Kentucky, Ohio State University, and Miami University, she was a senior merchandise manager at JCPenney for over 10 years. Stoel recognizes the strengths and weaknesses in the fashion industry from both the creativity and business perspectives. 

“When I was setting up my floor in a store, the color adjacencies made a really big difference,” said Stoel. “People responded more positively to a really strong color statement. If you understand design, it sucks the customer in.”

Reams is an Associate Teaching Professor of Fashion at Miami University, with experience at Michigan State University and Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar. While working at Miami University, Reams is also the sole proprietor of Della Reams Design which makes one-of-a-kind textiles and dresses. She offers insight into how the Fashion major can benefit students. 

“If they take the fashion program, they are customizing their business program toward the fashion industry,” Reams said. “Since the fashion industry is one of the biggest industries in the world, you can relate almost any major or job to the industry. Marketing is the most popular co-major for fashion students.”

Express, a brand headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, holds a unique relationship with Miami. Reams said that Miami has a close connection with the former chairman of the board. 

“They love to work with Miami students for internships and jobs,” Reams said. “We are well-connected in the industry.”

Express maintains its link to students through networking platforms such as LinkedIn and the production of events with student organizations like UP Magazine. A variety of multi-million dollar fashion retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Express, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret are full of Miami University alumni.

According to the Miami University Department of Art, fashion students are equipped with tools across campus, such as access to an abundance of textiles to create their own pieces, technology such as 3D printers, laser cutters and machines.

“Students are interested in the fashion industry and retail industry, a lot of it applies even to business in general,” Stoel said. “It gives them some foundations about why people buy apparel and fashion products. It helps the students understand the buying and planning process.” While the fashion program started in 2015, it has only grown with expansive goals for the future.

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