Stepping Up with Apparel Design

Step Up students work on their garments.

Founded in 2004 by the City of Minneapolis and AchieveMpls, the Step-Up Achieve and Step-Up Discover programs place Minneapolis teenagers and young adults in paid internships across the metro area. This summer, the Apparel Design Program played host to interns in Step-Up Discover and taught them the ins and outs of apparel design. Splitting their time between program co-hosts Target and the Textile Center, this summer’s interns were the second apparel design class that the College of Design has hosted through the program. In this interview, Lucy Dunne, director of the apparel design program, talks about how the partnership developed and how the program has been doing so far.

How did the Apparel Design Program become involved with Step-Up?

“This program emerged out of our relationship with the North High School Fashion Club. Their advisor works with the Step-Up program and saw the opportunity to extend the work we’ve been doing during the school year into the summer so that North High students could have a more intensive experience.”

What do you want this program to achieve?

“The broader goal of this program is to open up a career exploration pipeline for apparel design that helps us build diversity in perspectives and backgrounds. The Step-Up program recruits students that are typically underrepresented in our field and gives them experiences across the full range of apparel and fashion careers, so that they can figure out if this is an area they see themselves in long-term and, if so, find a good fit for their interests in college and/or jobs.”

What has the feedback been like?

“I think the students are having a great time. They really learn a lot, most come in with almost no background and by the time they leave they’ve designed and made a huge amount of clothing and textiles. On our end, the program has been really effective in bringing together a lot of partners (Target, the Textile Center, Step-Up, North HS, etc.) who share the same goal. We get a lot out of watching how much the students accomplish in such a short time.”

What advice would you give students who are interested in applying to the Step-Up program?

“It’s a great opportunity — definitely apply. Step-Up is interested in building pipelines in a lot of design disciplines, so even if apparel isn’t your main interest there are also opportunities in graphic design, architecture, landscape architecture, and other design fields. These are areas that younger students don’t always know are real career or college options and this program is a great way to explore them that before you get to college.”

Students participating in the apparel design Step-Up program showed off their final pieces at a fashion show in New Rules North on Thursday, August 10th.

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