The fashion world is often perceived as one of the elite, the beautiful, the artistic … one that is not easily penetrated. Different fashion competitions abound, with hordes of hopefuls vying for their chance to enter the industry. Getting one’s shoe in the door to compete in one of these prestigious competitions is a feat; catwalking away with multiple awards is another. Mays Business School students in Sandi Lampo’s advanced retailing class accomplished both at this year’s Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) national scholarship competition.

Left to right: Dr. Sandi Lampo, Marisol Hernandez '11, Alexandra Sinatra '11, Mary Colligan '11, Kristin Shelley '11 and YuJin Yong '11
Left to right: Dr. Sandi Lampo, Marisol Hernandez ’11, Alexandra Sinatra ’11, Mary Colligan ’11, Kristin Shelley ’11 and YuJin Yong ’11

Texas A&M University was accepted to participate in the competition for the first time this year. The FSF is a national nonprofit association of influential members of the fashion community including CEOs, presidents, designers and manufacturers. Member companies include Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren, Macy’s and other recognizable leaders in the world of fashion. In efforts to recruit talented individuals and advance the fashion industry, the group awards 75 scholarships each year to students attending selected universities. In early 2010, the Center for Retailing Studies began the rigorous vetting process to be included in the competition. Center director Cheryl Holland Bridges said, “Given the strength of our retailing program and the talents of our students, we knew Aggies needed to be involved.” The nation-wide competition includes 33 schools; A&M students competed against students from the likes of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Cornell, Parsons The New School for Design and The Wharton School.

This fall, Lampo, Mays senior lecturer in marketing, created an advanced retailing course, part of which was to conduct a case study on private brand labels. As more information became available about the FSF, several students tailored their term projects to fit the requirements of the scholarship competition. Lampo chose the best ones to enter. “It was all individual work,” she explained. “They created a new private label brand for an existing retailer, created a merchandising plan, and a mobile commerce campaign.”

Told that a maximum of five A&M students could be selected, the group held its breath and hoped for one person to receive the prestigious recognition. True to Mays Business School excellence, they were elated to find out that five A&M students were awarded scholarships. “I am so excited and so proud,” Lampo said. In addition to winning the scholarships, the recipients and Lampo will be treated to a trip to New York City in January, where they will attend the awards ceremony at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel. “Considering it is our first year to compete, this is an enormous accomplishment,” said Lampo. “The students will meet the board for the scholarship fund and interact with leaders in the retailing and fashion industry. Ralph Lauren himself will be there.” The ceremony is timed to overlap retailing’s major annual trade show, the National Retail Federation BIG Show. Bridges will attend the 100th annual NRF event and also be able to cheer on the students. .

Each student won a $5,000 scholarship and the chance to compete in the next phase of the competition, which will award three $25,000 scholarships. All five Aggie winners are guaranteed internships with New York City fashion designers.

The scholarship winners are:

  • Mary Colligan ’11
  • Marisol Hernandez ’11
  • Kristin Shelley ’11
  • Alexandra Sinatra ’11
  • YuJin Yong ’11