Danielle Hogan & Samantha Jenkins – Arts & Entertainment Editor & 1851 staff
Fourteen students participated in an experimental course partnership with Lasell and Converse during the 2018 Fall semester.
Professor Anne Vallely instructs the course and selects the students participating. The class meets on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students are divided into three teams, who have also been meeting outside of the classroom at least once a week.
Various rumors circulated campus in talks of a “top-secret” class. The course itself is not private, but the content of the project has to be. Students are working on displays and concepts for a March 2019 promotion.
The teams presented nine concepts at the Converse headquarters in October. “Each team has the responsibility to develop visual concepts for a product line that will launch Spring 2019,” said Vallely. Visual merchandisers, general managers, and the public relations team gave students feedback and criticism.
Each team kept concepts private from each other until their presentations to Converse to ensure each concept was unique from the others. Converse Retail Brand Presentation Manager Amber Bazdar, and Professor Vallely reassured students that each concept was completely original. Senior fashinon merchandising major Matison Trotter said the privacy helped the teams be confident in their concepts.
After presenting to corporate, students then presented their concepts to each other for peer feedback. Each team went back to their concepts and based their final display on the critiques from corporate and their peers. Trotter said getting peer feedback post-Converse presentations was helpful because there was still enough time to make adjustments based on the feedback both from corporate and from other students.
Trotter says that she has an interest in visual merchandising, but the course expands to her other interests. “I don’t think the Converse class is geared towards just visual merchandisers but people who kind of want a challenge and to think outside of the box rather than just typical classroom work,” Trotter said.
Junior fashion communication and promotion major Jessica Spillane spoke about how the class goes in depth with visual merchandising, working with real window-displays and budgets, as well as working inside of Converse HQ’s innovation center.
Students will find out the winning concept to be displayed in March 2019 for Converse’s spring and summer launch on Dec. 5. Until then, everyone will have to continue to keep the content of their project private until Converse releases the product.