Madison USA 27

The classroom and the real world intersected this december in a project that saw Columbus College of Art & Design Fashion Design students create a lookbook for Columbus-based retailer Madison-USA. Students in Adjunct Instructor Sara Renner’s Professional Practice — Fashion Design course were tasked with orchestrating their own photo shoots, styling models wearing Madison-USA merchandise, and designing cohesive layouts for the lookbooks, which were published in both print and Web-friendly form. The students also designed an in-store installation that complemented the lookbook.

“From the beginning, students were coming into the store, asking questions and borrowing items in efforts to put the best presentation together. We asked the students to be resourceful and they did a good job of using their relationships and personal networks to make some amazing work,” said Jarrel Tolbert, Madison-USA Co-founder, Creative Director, and Buyer.

The class was split into four groups, and the winning project—by Cassidy Sarin (Fashion Design, 2020), Wes Mills (Fashion Design, 2019), Huawei (Luke) Lui (Fashion Design, 2020), and Marrisa Holt (Fashion Design, 2019)—will be executed and displayed at Madison-USA, 1219 N. High St., in Columbus, in early 2019.

“I thought they did a really good job of creating a backstory for their editorial and then even reaching out to students who aren't in their class and even non-students to complete the project in the way that they envisioned it,” said Tolbert. He said Madison-USA will integrate elements from several of the student projects into the store.

Tolbert and Renner discuss the project below.

How would you describe Madison-USA?Tolbert: Madison-USA is not only a lifestyle boutique, we also want it to serve as a hub for creatives and forward-thinking people in Columbus. We carry designers that most people in the Midwest and Columbus, specifically, would usually have to shop online to find. The concept was to bring some of the more desired brands in, while also highlighting and giving smaller brands—both local and those sourced elsewhere—a platform and the opportunity to sit next to some of the more well-known brands. We try to create that experience through not only the clothing, but also the artwork on the walls, the conversations we have with them or even the music that's being played in the store. We want guests that come to the store to feel like they're doing more than just looking at clothes.

Who is the Madison-USA customer? Tolbert: They’re someone who's been looking for something different in Columbus, someone who has an affinity for fashion and creativity. It's someone who's well-traveled, either by physically visiting different places or even by exploring via the internet and social media. So much is learned thru the internet nowadays, so kids are learning more about fashion, collaboration, and what goes on behind the scenes through media outlets like Complex or Hypebeast.

Why did you want to partner with one another?Renner:Madison-USA is a small business that is nothing like I’ve ever seen before in Columbus. It portrays a larger city vibe however their core values of the arts and their personal childhood nostalgia makes the store relatable and inviting. Not only is Madison a retail store, it is an experience for the untapped piece of Columbus’s art community. More importantly the students look up to the owners and what they stand for!Tolbert: I wanted to partner with CCAD specifically because I feel like that's where the people who know what the "next big thing" and the people who will create whatever that is exist. I have a saying where I always tell people that "the kids know." By that I mean, these are the people who may not get the credit immediately, but they are creating and leading the trends that everyone will be following 3–4 years from now. I've attended a couple different CCAD events throughout the past year and have students that frequent the store and i'm always blown away by what they show me. I wish that I could come up with some of the ideas they put out there.

What kind of feedback did you get from students?Renner: Many students were excited that this project was unconventional in the way it was directed towards styling, graphic design, and photography side of fashion. They were also thrilled to partner with such an inspiring company and to potentially continue working with them.

Follow Jarrell Tolbert and Madison-USA on Instagram.

Learn more about Fashion Design at CCAD or apply here.