An inside look at China’s apparel industry

Oriental Pearl TV Tower 2 5-10-2016
AMDT students Graciela Vela and Yeseily Pruneda overlook Shanghai from the Oriental Pearl TV tower.

WSU students got a firsthand look in May at some of the biggest, most important clothing production and merchandising companies in China.

Associate Professor Ting Chi led eight undergraduates from the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles on a two-week trip to Shangai, Beijing and Xi’an that launched May 8.

China is the largest textile, apparel, and footwear supplier to the world and U.S. market, and the annual trip helps AMDT students understand the business practices that drive that dominance.

“The economic connection between the U.S. and China has never been so tight,” said Chi. “Understanding cross-cultural differences between China and the U.S. and learning business norms and practices in China have become imperative for any student who wants a successful career in the fashion industry.”

In Shanghai and Beijing, students visited major suppliers for companies like Target, Nordstrom, Speedo, Macy’s and Calvin Klein. They also visited a leading textile and apparel university in Shanghai, Donghua University, meeting students and faculty.

The trip also took in cultural attractions, including the ancient terracotta warriors site in Xian and the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Most of the students in AMDT 439 had never traveled abroad before. Flying 12 hours across the Pacific was their first challenge.

“Seeing the students with smiles on their faces in the Shanghai International Airport was a relief for me,” said Chi. “They were very excited.”

Visiting China challenged students’ adaptability. Chi said they were open-minded, and quickly embraced Chinese norms and basic language. Even when tired after travel, they behaved professionally, answered questions and made their own observations. Each wrote in daily journals, and will turn in a final report on their experiences and new skills.

“Going to China has not only made me want to travel more and explore the globe, but has opened my mind to a greater worldview,” said student participant Ariana Paynter. “You can never truly understand a population and their behavior unless you study their culture and history. This experience has enhanced my soft skills by providing challenges such as language and societal barriers that I learned to navigate and problem solve.”

As the first person in her family to ever leave North America, “I feel that I traveled far enough to meet myself and learn so much outside the box,” said AMDT 439 student Yeseily Pruneda. “Every from being open-minded in a different culture, to trying new things and learning so much about China.”

“More students should gain this kind of experience,” says Chi.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower 5-10-2016 crop
In the observation room atop Shangai’s Oriental Pearl TV Tower, from left are Yeseily Pruneda, Kaitlyn Jo Engle, Alison DePhillips, Ariana Paynter, Katie Rae, Tatiana Sweat, Graciela Vela
AMDT students visit a Mengdi Group manufacturing center in Shanghai.
AMDT students visit Mengdi Textile Group in Jiaxi city, Zhejiang Province—a leading textile and apparel manufacturer, supplying high quality wool products to L.L. Bean, Levis, Brooks Brothers, and many European brands.
In Shanghai, students tour Jiangsu Lianfa Textile Co., a major supplier for brands like Calvin Klein, Speedo, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen and IZOD.
In Shanghai, students tour Jiangsu Lianfa Textile Co., a major supplier for brands like Calvin Klein, Speedo,
Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen and IZOD.
Students show their Coug flag on Shanghai’s famous Bund waterfront, with views of Pudong’s skyscrapers. From left are Yeseily Pruneda, Tatiana Sweat, Nikki‎ Norman, Ariana Paynter, Katie Rae, Alison DePhillips, Graciela Vela, Kaitlyn Jo Engle, and Assistant Professor Ting Chi.
Students show their Coug flag on Shanghai’s famous Bund waterfront, with views of Pudong’s skyscrapers. From left are Yeseily Pruneda, Tatiana Sweat, Nikki‎ Norman, Ariana Paynter, Katie Rae, Alison DePhillips, Graciela Vela, Kaitlyn Jo Engle, and Associate Professor Ting Chi.
Lunch Chinese Food 5-13-2016
Paynter, Engle, Rae, Vela and Pruneda enjoy a Chinese lunch
AMDT students tour the Silk Road Museum in Xian.
AMDT students tour the Silk Road Museum in Xian.
AMDT students in front of the Silk Road Museum in Xi'an. The museum curates thousands of years of China's ancient culture.
AMDT students in front of the Silk Road Museum in Xi’an. The museum curates thousands of years of China’s ancient culture.
Alison DePhillips, Graciela Vela, Yeseily Pruneda, and Kaitlyn Jo Engle hold the WSu banner at the ancient Terracotta Warriors site in Xi'an.
Alison DePhillips, Graciela Vela, Yeseily Pruneda, and Kaitlyn Jo Engle hold the WSu banner at the ancient Terracotta Warriors site in Xi’an.
The AMDT group meets with college students at Donghua University in Shanghai, during the first leg of their trip.
The AMDT group meets with college students at Donghua University in Shanghai, during the first leg of their trip.
Ariana Paynter visits the 1300-year-old Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an.
Ariana Paynter visits the 1300-year-old Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an.
Alison Dephillips removes fibers from a silkworm cocoon to make a quilt at the Silk Road Museum in Xian.
Alison Dephillips removes fibers from a silkworm cocoon to make a quilt at the Silk Road Museum in Xian.
Alison Dephillips and Nikki Norman inspect a 3-D weaving machine at Donghua University, Shanghai.
Alison Dephillips and Nikki Norman inspect a 3-D weaving machine at Donghua University, Shanghai.
AMDT students bicycle in the city of Xi'an, one of the oldest, culturally richest cities in China.
AMDT students bicycle in the city of Xi’an, one of the oldest, culturally richest cities in China.

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