Texas fashion design students to showcase work at fashion fair in mainland China

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Two Texas college students who are studying fashion design will soon see their original creations the runway in China.

Sun Eun Chung from Frisco and Shala Bellew from Abilene, seniors at the University of North Texas in Denton, were selected by the university to display their finest garments at the 2007 China (Guangdong) University Fashion Fair, which will be held May 29 through June 2 at the China Fabric & Accessories Center in Guangzhou, Guandong Province's capital city. Guangzhou was formerly known as Canton to the Western world.

UNT is the only American university invited to participate in this fashion expo, an annual event that showcases some of China's best student design talent.

About 12 different fashion shows will take place during the fair, culminating with the Famory Cup eveningwear competition on June 2. More than 10,000 people, including industry representatives, are expected to attend.

Ballew and Chung, who are earning their degrees in UNT's School of Visual Arts, won the trip to China in a design competition in March. They will join 35 UNT students from the School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management and College of Business Administration who are enrolled in the university's intensive Hong Kong/China summer study abroad program.

Dee Knight, an assistant professor in UNT's School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management, says it's unusual for American students to be included in the China University Fashion Fair.

"We are definitely pioneers in this area," Knight says. "This is a venue where about 18 universities in China have a huge extravaganza to spotlight the work of their students in fashion, photography, textiles - the whole gamut."

Knight planned the study abroad trip with Lou Pelton, UNT associate professor of marketing and logistics; and Joe Lynn Johnson, UNT professor of management. The professors will teach relevant merchandising and marketing courses in Hong Kong and China. The trip will also include tours of Asian factories, with students observing the apparel supply chain from fiber manufacture through shipment of finished garments.

The three-week program, in its fifth year, forged solid relationships and trust that led Chinese officials to extend the exclusive fashion fair invitation to UNT, Knight says.

"There are no other universities doing what we do," Knight says. "We're the only ones. We go where no others are invited to go."

She says the fair's organizers wanted UNT representatives to bring 40 to 48 student garments, but adds that wasn't logistically feasible this year. So the university is starting small, and hopes to expand the number of garments in the future, she says.

Chung and Ballew are each sending four ensembles, which range from ready-to-wear to haute couture, says Li-Fen "Anny" Chang, an assistant professor of fashion design in the School of Visual Arts, who will accompany the students on this trek near her homeland of Taipei, Taiwan.

In addition to Ballew and Chung's design-winning garments, Chang is bringing about 20 outfits made by last year's fashion design seniors.

Ballew says she is "terribly excited" to attend the fashion show. She began making clothes at the age of 4 when her great-grandmother taught her how to sew.

"I'm looking forward to showing my collection the most. But if I get a chance to see the Great Wall of China, that will be tops," she says.

Chung, 23, who emigrated from South Korea, is also thrilled about the opportunity.

"I think it's a great honor," she says. "I enjoy creating new designs and showing my designs and ideas to people."

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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