Fashion Merchandising students ESRAP finalists


Jordan Kessler, Staff writer

The Mercyhurst Fashion Merchandising Department took part in the 2019 Educators for Socially Responsible Apparel Practices (ESRAP) Student Merchandising Poster Competition. There are ten teams in the finals and Mercyhurst has four in that top ten. The goal for these teams was to come up with a business plan for a socially responsible clothing retailer.

ESRAP holds this competition yearly for students all over the nation to participate in. The main goal of the competition according to the ESRAP is to “empower students to become change agents through the application of socially responsible business practices to fashion retail development.”

Each team of students had to design a poster that included at least one dimension of the companies’ triple bottom line strategy: people, profit and planet.

Additionally, ESRAP required that each team of students’ business plan would have to include eight sections specific to the design of the poster and business. They are: have a sustainable strategy, a business concept, an industry segment and a market analysis, competitive analysis, a target customer group, a sourcing structure, a marketing strategy and a solid budget to work from.

Each team that entered the competition could have up to four members and were required to have a faculty sponsor who is a current International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) member. ITAA has a direct relationship with ESRAP and helped monitor the competition this year. The deadline for this year’s competition entries was June 1 of 2019.

Students from around the nation worked hard for the top ten spots in the competition. Mercyhurst has four teams in the top ten currently. The Mercyhurst teams in the top ten include Brittnay Firman and Olivia Zucchi, Chloe Speranza and Mia Vassallo, Katy Vaccariello and Hannah Bill and Jillian Setek and Mary Jacobs. Each of these students were in the Fashion Entrepreneurship course taught by Ashlee Rzyczycki, M.A. in the spring semester of the 2018-2019 school year.

“This recognition speaks volumes about the high-quality work of our Mercyhurst students,” Rzyczycki said in a press release from Mercyhurst University.

The ITAA hosts a conference in which the competition finalists are invited to go to Las Vegas to show off their posters and marketing strategies for their businesses. From Friday, Oct. 25 through Tuesday Oct. 29, the four groups from Mercyhurst, along with the other top ten groups, will fly to Las Vegas to present their business and marketing plans. The participating students will have an opportunity to show fashion industry professionals their hard work and their business ideas. These professionals will evaluate the posters and determine the top three competitors of the competition this year and the winners will be announced at the end of the ceremony.

Congratulations to all of the finalists!