Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVirginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
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Fashion Design + Merchandising

Fashion is the vehicle people use to express who they are and who they would like to be. Today, the ever-changing world of fashion is one of the greatest economic forces in the world and the fashion industry provides careers for millions of individuals in design, manufacturing, retailing, marketing, advertising, publishing and many auxiliary services. It is both creative and scientific, with careers at every point in between.

During this exciting three-week course students will try on many roles including fashion designer, stylist, product development specialist, buyer, and fashion show director. One half of the course work focuses on the business side of fashion and the other half focuses upon design. Culmination of the program includes creation of garments and a fashion show staged and produced by participants. Participants also learn how to publicize the fashion show and to create the program.

Each day of the three-week session will start with a morning of merchandising. Students will learn about the various segments of the fashion business and about possible careers in the fashion industry. Activities will include a product development project; creation of an inspiration board; and organizing, producing, and promoting the fashion show to be held on the last day of the Intensive. Students will have an opportunity to learn about the business side of fashion and how merchandisers contribute to the world of fashion through, not only their creativity, but also their abilities to plan, analyze, and operate as leaders in the fashion industry. Students will have an opportunity to explore their own desires to become fashion industry leaders and executives.

In the afternoon of each day, students will learn about design and design principles. Activities will include the creation of a garment to be worn in the fashion show.


Hawa Stwodah’s  career has spanned many sectors within the fashion industry, including fashion and textile design, production as well as merchandising. She received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Fashion Design. After working in the private sector for a period of time she then returned to VCU’s Fashion Design and Merchandising department in 2005 working at both the Richmond and Doha, Qatar campuses. Hawa has delighted past Intensive participants with her well-honed teaching skills.

Most recently, she consulted on experimental design development using avant garde textiles with both a sportswear/activewear company and healthcare providers. She, also produced illustrations for Fashionomics, a textbook published in spring 2012.

Jennie Cook’s  career has spanned many sectors within fashion merchandising, including retail management, buying, marketing, graphic design, business ownership, and consulting projects. She has traveled nationally to shows including ENK’s Accessorie Circuit, Intermezzo Collections, and Children’s Club, High Point Furniture Market, ABC Kids Expo, and Atlanta Apparel and Gift shows. She has experience in the menswear, children’s apparel, maternity apparel, and home décor industries.

With a passion for start-up culture and e-commerce, Ms. Cook has enjoyed the opportunity to be active in areas like web design, Google Analytics/Adwords, and email marketing applications necessary for managing and marketing an online retail presence. In addition to her merchandising work, she has served as a technical editor and cover designer for multiple publications.
Ms. Cook received her BA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Fashion Merchandising in 2004. After working in the private sector, she then returned to VCU’s Fashion Design and Merchandising department in 2012.

As an adjunct professor, she primarily teaches Computers for Fashion, a class that focuses on basic design principles, concept board development, and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator instruction. Her class culminates with a research project on a specific culture that involves the development of a concept board, icon design, and pattern creation. She enjoys sharing her experience and passion for fashion merchandising with Summer Intensive students.