Dr. Byoungho “Ellie” Jin has been named the Albert Myers Distinguished Professor in Textile Economics and Management, in the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, effective Aug. 16, 2018.
“I’m so proud to be a faculty member of the Wilson College of Textiles,” said Jin. “I am really looking forward to what our Wilson College of Textiles can do for the world. I believe we will lead the industry…We have the capability, the vision and the people to make this happen.”
She comes to the Wilson College of Textiles from the Bryan School of Business and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), where she served as the Putnam and Hayes Distinguished Professor in the Department of Consumer, Apparel and Retail Studies since 2009. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the field of brand marketing and global apparel retailing; in that time, she has secured approximately $1.3 million in research funding, published more than 110 refereed papers in a range of top-tier journals and received a number of best research paper awards at professional conferences. She has published two books and three edited books for the series Global Fashion Brand Management, for which she also serves as co-series editor.
Jin earned her B.S. (Clothing and Textiles, 1988), M.S. (Fashion Marketing and Merchandising, 1991) and her Ph.D. (Clothing and Textiles, 1995) all from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, and she received an AAS in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1997. She was a postdoctoral scholar at Michigan State University until late 1998, when she returned to Seoul; for the next three years, she lectured at several institutions and was chief researcher at the Research Institute of Clothing and Textile Sciences. She came back to the United States in 2001 and joined the faculty at Oklahoma State University in the Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising, where she stayed until joining UNCG in 2009.
The Albert Myers Distinguished Professorship in Textile Economics and Management endowment was established within the North Carolina Textile Foundation in 1967 by Textiles Incorporated of Gastonia, North Carolina, to honor Albert Myers, who received an honorary Doctor of Textile Science degree from NC State in recognition of his strong support of the then School of Textiles.
When Jin was a child in Korea, textiles was a literal cottage industry.
“When I was young, all the ladies in town knitted sweaters at home to export,” she said. Her home country now sources and exports apparel goods in a way similar to the United States. Over the past several decades, she has watched the industry shift and grow on a global scale. “This is my forte: not just knowing the industry, but having experienced and observed the whole industry’s development patterns. I have insight into solving industry challenges and am looking forward to bringing this global perspective to further advance our department, college, industry and society.”
In elementary school, she wanted to be a diplomat so she could travel and meet people from different cultures; later, she thought about architecture, which requires a balance of engineering and design skills. In studying textiles and apparel, she found an international, interdisciplinary career that encompasses all that and more. Her experience and research areas include apparel brand management and marketing, global fashion business, cross-cultural consumer behavior, sustainability and business model innovation.
“We communicate who we are through clothes,” said Jin. “As we cannot live without clothes, our discipline benefits everybody. I wanted to study something very practical and applicable to the real world when I chose my major before entering college. Fashion is very dynamic — it constantly changes.”
For Jin, that very dynamism is what makes studying fashion so fascinating, and why textiles is driving innovation.
“Name all the leading companies: Amazon, Google…They all invest in apparel: real-time forecasting using algorithms, robot manufacturing, 3D virtual fitting, automated on-demand clothing factories, etcetera,” she said. She believes a new industrial revolution “will be fruited in the textile and apparel industry” and that the students of the Wilson College of Textiles will lead the shift.
She has mentored 63 graduate students and 12 doctoral students so far, and wants to inspire all her students through mentorship and teaching.
“We never know who our students will be in the future,” said Jin. “Who knows if our students will be the next Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs?”
Jin recalls a former student who contacted her to say that she was still inspired by something the professor had said in class a decade ago: “Don’t limit yourself. You can do whatever you imagine — and even beyond what you can imagine.”
Another student let her know that the patience and attention she showed her when she was going through a rough spot inspired her to try harder in class.
“I still remember the classroom and the place where she sat,” said Jin. “You will never know what problems a student may have. Just a little bit of attention can really change their life. I take my role as a teacher who provides education and inspiration to future generations seriously, and I am appreciative that I have the call and the mission to do such important work in my life.”