New Research Center at NC State Will Advance Fashion Industry
By Sarah Stone
A new research center within the Wilson College of Textiles will partner cutting-edge academic research with the real-world experience of textile and apparel executives to tackle the industry’s biggest challenges.
The Fashion and Textile Business Excellence Cooperative (FTBEC) provides companies in the textile and apparel industry with consulting services, training opportunities and articles breaking down industry trends from a research perspective.
It’s the brainchild of Professor Ellie Jin, who first noticed the need for this type of resource over a decade ago. She says joining the Wilson College provided her with the perfect chance to turn her goals into reality.
“A center like this really needs to exist in the right environment with adequate resources in order to thrive. The Wilson College of Textiles is a natural fit for FTBEC because it is the world’s leading college of textiles with impressive resources as well as a supportive, successful alumni network.”
Jin, also co-directs the college’s brand management and marketing (BMM) program – a concentration within its B.S. in Fashion and Textile Management – and believes the new cooperative will be mutually beneficial for both members of industry and current Wilson College students. She envisions groups of BMM students collaborating with the cooperative’s industry clients on semester-long projects.
Where did the idea for FTBEC come from? What inspired you to start it?
If marketing, branding and management challenges arise in apparel and textile companies, who can industry members turn to? I started FTBEC because I felt there was not an adequate answer to that question. While there were some consulting companies out there, very few specialized in the apparel and textile industries. And when it came to research centers on university campuses, most specialized in retail but not the broader apparel and textile industry.
I also came up with FTBEC as a way to provide more hands-on learning opportunities for our brand management and marketing students. Through participation in the cooperative, students will have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in traditional lectures and class discussions in a real-world setting.
What topics does FTBEC specialize in?
We handle diverse topics in the branding, marketing and management side of apparel companies, and we can address issues or challenges in both domestic and global markets. For example, we can help U.S. apparel companies examine their brand acceptance in a foreign market and entry strategies.
Who else is currently part of the cooperative?
All of our brand management and marketing faculty. Eunice Lee, director of footwear innovation for Nike and Wilson College alumna, is also joining our team to add an industry perspective.
How do you hope FTBEC impacts the industry?
I envision that FTBEC will create a positive impact on the industry by connecting industry, academia and students. FTBEC is the first of its kind in terms of a cooperative in the textile and apparel industry and discipline at the university level.
I hope FTBEC is the pioneer and go-to academic cooperative that fosters industry advancement and helps executives and entrepreneurs make informed decisions based on data.
How do you think having this cooperative on campus will impact the educational experience for students?
It will help students greatly enrich their problem-solving, analytical and strategic thinking skills. Through industry projects, students will be able to actively engage in solving a company’s challenging issues. Solving an industry’s challenging issues requires an application of what they’ve learned to a real-world setting.
Such industry project opportunities are rare especially in the management side of textile and apparel industry/discipline; it will be a superb educational experience that distinguishes our program from peer institutions.
What are your goals for FTBEC moving forward?
I hope to have more apparel/textiles companies engaged in FTBEC. I believe companies may have common interests and challenges, which can be solved collectively, so I’m really interested in developing a conference to showcase our solutions.
Want to get involved?
Students: FTBEC recruits students as needed to industry projects once the details of the project are finalized.
Faculty and staff from other universities: If you are interested in working with FTBEC, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Industry members: Student projects, training and consulting research require thorough planning and coordination, so please contact us early.
NC State faculty: If you are interested in writing short articles on implications of your research and industry trends, please let us know by emailing Dr. B. Ellie Jin (email@example.com), founding director of FTBEC.