Bob Mackie in action
The great Bob Mackie in action

The coolest part of being a fashion design student at Otis is no doubt having mentor projects. What does this mean? Unlike any other college I’ve heard of, we actually get to design for real brands and designers. It’s having the working experience, but in your college years. Talk about getting an advantage!

Because of this, our teachers expect us to be professionals. You show up on time when class starts with your work ready to be presented. And, of course, your work must be complete to be allowed to post your work on the walls for the weekly crit.

Discipline is a must.

Liliana Casabal for Morgane Le Fay
Liliana Casabal for Morgane Le Fay

But if you are up in your game, this is a gift you’ll be leaving Otis with – I’ve met people working in the fashion industry and they are impressed with the work ethic of our fashion students. This make us much more likely to be hired over others!

Beginning junior and senior year, the mentor projects are introduced. The mentors are there the first day to introduce their projects. After two to four projects are presented, you submit a paper with your top choices. Most likely, you’ll get your first or second choice.

Once the fashion teachers put you on a mentor project team, your design journey begins! The first six to seven weeks in design class, you’ll make at least twelve designs to be presented to the mentor on sketch selection day. Then your mentor will select one design for you to make in Studio class. 

Joe McCarty for Lane Byrant
Joe McCarty for Lane Byrant
On a regular week, your homework is to come up with ten designs in flats (technical drawings of the garments you design, presented with front, side, and back views). These are developed with the direction you’ve been given for the project as well as the visual research you’ll collect. Then, you illustrate three of the strongest designs. Next class, you’ll post your illustrations with garment flats and visual research swipes you got inspiration from. Now, you are ready for the critique.

You’ll also have your work reviewed one-on-one with your design teachers and they’ll give you feedback to improve your designs as well as give you direction for further ideas you can develop.

Trina Turk in action
Trina Turk in action
And so, on the sixth or seventh week, you’ll have at least twelve designs to present for final crit before sketch selection day when the mentor for the project comes in and you present your designs to him or her.

It can be a nerve-wrecking moment to anticipate, but it is also very exciting! It is rewarding to see a set of designs that look like a small collection you’ve made!

In junior year, the mentor projects are for commercial or moderately priced brands, usually related to athletic wear, swimwear, lingerie and loungewear and sportswear. Some mentor projects the school has recently collaborated with include, Nike, Under Armour, Eddie Bauer, Urban Outfitters, Disney, Barbie for Mattel, Anne Cole, Mary Jo Bruno, and Armani Exchange.

Student design for NIKE
Junior student design for NIKE

Student design for Barbie
Junior student design for BARBIE

For senior year, designs are more elaborate, involving classic tailoring and couture sewing. Mentor projects Otis has worked with include Neiman Marcus, Bob Mackie, Western Costume, Todd Oldham, Max Studio, Lane Bryant, and David Meister.

Student design for Western Costume
Student design for WESTERN COSTUME

Student design for Max Studio
Student design for MAX STUDIO

All the strenuous work culminates in the annual Scholarship Benefit and Fashion Show, a mesmerizing and extravagant event where all mentor project designs come alive on the run

Designs for Disney
Design for DISNEY

Winning Designs for David Meister
Winning design for DAVID MEISTER

Designs for Bob Mackie
Design for Bob Mackie

- Alberto -


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