Dogs, denim and daring to learn

Claudio Cerrillo | The Daily Wildcat A dog donning a UA Student's cape design poses with its owner on Dogs N' Denim night. The event was held on November 27th, put on by the UA Fashion Minors with proceeds going to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

Fashion minor students at the University of Arizona are learning the tricks of the trade as they host and plan a Dogs N’ Denim Fashion Show. While these students are learning what it really means to work in fashion, they’re doing it all in a sustainable manner and for a charitable cause.

The second annual Dogs N’ Denim Fashion Show is on Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. on the UA Mall.  The students have been working the majority of the semester on designing capes for the dogs using donated, upcycled materials, as well as planning the entirety of the event themselves.

According to Charlette Padilla, a professor of retailing and consumer sciences at the Norton School of Family  & Consumer Sciences, after the event the capes made for the dogs will be auctioned off and proceeds will go towards Tucson’s Cause for Canines. General admission is free.

“There’s two objectives,” Padilla said. “One was to teach about sustainability, because fashion is a really dirty business. [The] second was to learn basic skills in sewing.”


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Velveeta the greyhound enters the runway with a sleep yawn, wearing an intricate cape designed by UA Fashion Minor students. The Dog N' Denim Fashion show was held on November 27th with proceeds going to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona

Padilla said that, in general, she hates normal fashion shows because of how economically and environmentally unsustainable they are. According to Padilla, some fashion shows can cost up to $1 million per minute and are incredibly wasteful — but with dogs, they are easier, cheaper and a lot more fun.

“They need to learn how to do events because they are fashion students, and that’s the way fashion sells — mostly through events,” Padilla said. 

The show is hosted by the class SCFC 215. The students are split into 10 groups and each group has to design and craft two dog capes. According to Holly Kramer, a student in the class, one cape represents an era or decade in fashion; for the first six weeks of class, the students researched the eras represented. The other cape is completely based on the group’s free design.

According to Kramer, her group made a cape inspired by the Victorian era and another was Christmas-themed. Kramer’s group is also in charge of the media, so they are responsible for spreading the word about the event so people will attend. 

“Another group has social media and you know that is really important today, [because of] how many people use it,” Kramer said. “They had to make a UA Dogs N’ Denim Instagram, Facebook and they have a certain email for it.”

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A dog proudly shows off it's Americana "Route 66" denim design. The cape was designed by a UA Fashion Minor student in collaboration with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

The students are all responsible for lighting, scripts, thematic Winter Wonderland runway decorations, the silent auction and other various tasks that go into planning the event.

“It’s a lot of communication between groups, which is a huge part of not only setting up a fashion show, but setting up any event,” Kramer said. 

According to Padilla, her students also learned to use Adobe software to create a program for the show. While the dog capes are the main spectacle, the students are simultaneously learning other soft skills that are necessary for the fashion world and any career field.

“I am actually learning how to work in a group better,” Kramer said. “It’s really difficult, especially with a project like this. I’m kind of learning how to do a hands-on group project inside and outside of class.”

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Boldly entering the runway is a dog wearing a familar "Route 66" stylized denim cape. The capes were designed by UA Fashion Minor students, with proceeds from the event on November 28th going to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

One of the preceptors for the class, Claire Harders, has perspective from when she took the class last year and is now helping the current students with the event. According to Harders, only eight people from a class of about 60 worked the Dogs N’ Denim show last semester. She said that this year was much easier and more rewarding for the whole class to participate.

“It was a lot of experience with the outside world,” Harders said. “A lot of times when you get to these group projects, you know you’re kind of confined to what’s inside the university. But when you’re pushed to go out and do more with the community, it’s such a huge learning opportunity.”

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