New trends, upcoming fashion shows and hot new designers might not be what every NAU student is talking about. However, for the members of the Northern Arizona Merchandising Association (NAMA), these are commonly discussed at their meetings, among many other topics.
Each meeting begins with students introducing themselves, as new members are always welcome to join. Introductions are followed by discussing upcoming events and projects for the club. This includes big events like Phoenix Fashion Week and smaller ones such as their recent Love Yourself photoshoot, where members got to style themselves to match a Valentine’s Day theme.
“It’s a fashion club, but we’re more like a family,” said senior club president Joe Anderson. “We do a lot of DIY events and projects, photo shoots on the weekends, visual displays and we work with Phoenix Fashion Week.”
In the past, NAMA has attended the Phoenix Art Museum and a Flagstaff thrifting tour as a group, as well as seminars set up by their faculty adviser and merchandising professor “Kris” Swanson. New York City based stylist and blogger Audree Kate spoke with the group back in October 2018.
“We get students to do everything. We get students who will do modeling and we get students who will be designers and we’ll get students who will be the dressers and the backstage people,” Swanson said. “Many people end up being part of it, taking ownership and making it fun.”
Aside from volunteering at big industry events in Phoenix, NAMA organizes similar events for the Flagstaff area. The club has been planning a spring fashion show of their own titled Flagstaff in Bloom. The event is organized and run by students and will take place at Ashurst Auditorium April 5. Swanson said the show will be special to watch.
“Now that I’m president, NAMA has really allowed me to use my passion for event planning and fashion shows and it gave me that platform to do so,” Anderson said. “So if you’re interested in fashion shows, NAMA is the place to be.”
As president, Anderson oversees the executive staff, making sure all members are a part of the planning process. This will be the first fashion show in 10 years that NAMA will host on campus, so portions of the meetings are devoted to planning the event.
The club members aim to make the show a community event, partnering with local retailers to dress the student models. Merchandise from retailers such as the Basement Marketplace, P.J. Chilcottage and Dillard’s will be featured at the show.
“I get a lot of contacts from industry people that want to come talk to students,” Swanson said. “Rather than have them speak to a class, I say to come speak with NAMA.”
Anderson also leads the members in creating fashion related crafts such as shadow boxes and embroidered fabrics. Senior NAMA public relations representative Paola Felipe explained how crafting mood boards, which are collages of pictures and materials used as an inspiration for projects, can be a great way to get to know fellow members.
“I know [my mood board], it’s really earthy but it has pops of color and we had some that were all black and white because we just went through the magazines,” Felipe said. “It was a cool bonding experience too, just getting to know everyone in NAMA.”
One of the club’s main attractions is their involvement with Phoenix Fashion Week. The club members volunteer every year, often at both the fall and spring shows, to help set up tables, steam clothes and usher guests. Those who are interested in a career in fashion also have the opportunity to meet models, directors and others involved with the fashion industry.
“There was a Ferrari event at [a hotel], the W Scottsdale. From there I actually met Brian Hill, the executive director of Phoenix Fashion Week,” Felipe said. “He asked me for my email. I got in contact with him and he offered me an internship [oppoortunity].”
NAMA meets every other Thursday from 5-6 p.m. in Room 228 of the Communication building. Swanson said people can join the club at any time and is open to all majors, as long as those potential new members have an interest in fashion.