Eight students design mini-collections with global brand that reaches more than 220 countries and regions around the world.
In Fall 2021, eight Santa Ana College (SAC) students from the fashion and merchandising program launched individual mini-collections with SHEIN, an internationally known fast fashion e-commerce company. Each student submitted their designs to SHEIN X, a program that started in January 2021 to support emerging fashion designers and illustrators. The program provides opportunities for emerging designers to take their work and brands to new heights with SHEIN's massive online reach.
“I'm just proud of these students for trying something new," said Kyla Benson, chair of the department of fashion design and merchandising at SAC. “They stepped out of their comfort zone and shared their designs with the world. It can be a scary thing doing that for the first time."
SHEIN X has launched over 500 designers globally and has more than 22 million followers on its official Instagram account @SHEINofficial. SAC students who collaborated with SHEIN X included Crystal Bravo, Juliana Covarrubias, Nayeli Lazaro, Gabby Lewis, Carlos Marcé, Nadya Rios, Phoyphalin Thosengmani and Arthur Vargas. It started with a fashion illustration course Benson teaches on how to draw garments in Adobe Illustrator. Her final project required a four-piece collection with the option of submitting their work to SHEIN X.
This collaboration allowed students to work with SHEIN's product development team, journey through the sample approval process and finally see their designs become products that consumers could purchase online. Starting in May 2021, students submitted their designs. In June 2021, they worked with SHEIN's team to approve samples and offer feedback on the fit. Students also worked with SHEIN's marketing team to prepare marketing content that included their personal biographies and Instagram accounts. In July 2021, Shein's marketing team also had a professional photo shoot for the website. By mid-August, most of the student's lines went live online, with a few that followed in September. Students were able to track online sales and receive a portion from all sales.
“I think it was a wonderful experience to take an idea, put it to paper, and ultimately see it fully developed and on the retail floor," Benson said. “Students also got to see inside an apparel company and got experience working with various departments. I hope this experience opened their eyes to other job opportunities besides just being a designer."
Bravo, 34, who is pursuing her associate's degree in fashion merchandising, had mixed feelings about submitting her work for this collaboration but with Benson's support and encouragement, she created a collection and in the process of working with SHEIN, realized her interest in product development and seeing everything come together in the process.
Vargas, 32, first learned how to sew when he was 12 from his grandma. He started taking basic sewing classes from SAC in 2012 and will be graduating at the end of this year with his associate's degree in fashion design and merchandising.
“It's been a crazy journey. I've had my ups and downs," Vargas said, as he reflected on the rocky start he had and having to take a break from classes at one point. “I feel like my career is finally coming to fruition. This SHEIN thing kind of not only helped me realize I can actually do this but it's really kind of lit a fire in me and to take myself more seriously and my career. Now I can call myself a designer."
Marcé, 28, also known as Shadez, has been working as a visual merchandiser for over 10 years but wasn't quite as serious about developing his expertise in design until he started taking a full course load at SAC.
“For a very long time, I felt I was too old to pursue my dreams as far as going back to school and pursuing my academic educational program," Marcé said. “But you'll be surprised that you'll find [at SAC] the most helpful and caring professors, classmates — the whole campus is just friendly and helpful so my advice is to keep going, to never give up."
Lewis, 35, who splits her time between living in Los Angeles and Japan, with her husband and daughter, has also learned a lot from her classes and felt more equipped to participate in this collaboration because of the additional training she has received in Benson's courses.
“No matter how old you are, just be inspired to keep going, whatever it takes, just do it," Lewis said. “We don't have time. This world — they're not waiting on you."
To learn more about how you can earn an associate's degree or certificate in fashion design, fashion merchandising or apparel production development and technical design, visit sac.edu/fashion.