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Students, Alumni, and Local Brands Join Forces for Academy of Art Pop-Up Shop

Ready your wallets, a unique pop up store called SHOP! will offer merchandise made by students and alumni of the Academy of Art University at a giant warehouse in Dogpatch on Monday. The selection of designer goods promises to satisfy, or at least seriously tempt all of us fashion and style followers.

Exquisite, hand painted, and silkscreened denim shirts and jackets, gold safety pin jewelry, men’s shirts that rival top designer lines, and even fortune cookies that contain Kid Robot toys, are a few of the creative product lines offered at Monday's pop-up. 

The temporary retail space is the brainchild of Keanan Duffty, Senior Director of Fashion Merchandising at the Academy of Art University. Duffty enlisted fashion giants Levis, Uniqlo, and Banana Republic to donate “basic product”, which was then customized by the Academy’s fashion department students.  He also assigned his own product development class to work together in teams, and create a “brand,” make real products, then “sell” them to Merchandising Director Sharon Murphy’s class. These students in turn then “bought” products for SHOP!

At first, says Duffty, the student buyers wanted to purchase all the collections, but he insisted they curate the lines as they would in a genuine retail environment.

He says, “I wanted the buyers to learn how to be selective, how to take that risk, as they would in a retail store. Buyers have limited budgets, and are held accountable for their decisions. In the end, it’s about understanding the customer, and sell through. They’ll be able to experience first hand how successful they are with their choices.”

In addition to the merchandising class product, hand made luxury items (including exquisite hand knit sweaters) from knitwear students will also be available. If you attended the Academy’s incredible fashion show recently, you’ll be thrilled to have the opportunity to purchase work made by talented Academy of Art designers. The inclusion of designer luxury product also provides a range of price points and a varied point of view, says Duffty.

Four Academy of Art alumni will consign merchandise from their collections to SHOP! as well: Mansoor Scott will offer floral laser cut leather crop tops, pullovers with Indian lace, maxi dresses with leather details, and shirt dresses with Italian lace trims.

San Francisco favorite Freda Salvador will offer footwear, and Thommy Pham of SFC San Francycle will sell his line of cool graphic shirts and accessories. Another apparel collection, Void The Brand, will sell high end, minimalist designs. The combination of established and student designer product assures a great selection of fashion items for everyone.

Alumni and founder Christina Palomo-Nelson, of the Freda Salvador duo, says about her education at the Academy of Art, “I always knew I wanted to design, but I also recognized the importance of understanding the business side of fashion. Through my classes at Academy of Art, I was able to tap into all areas of running my own business. I  appreciated the fact that most professors had direct industry experience they could teach from.” Freda Salvador will be selling current styles from their Spring / Summer 2014 collection. The assortment will include flats, sandals, and boots.

The general theme of the store is 'up cycled' merchandise, custom product and collaboration. The store design is influenced by retail establishments such as Dover Street Market in NYC, a high-end emporium of multiple luxury brands which is constructed from salvaged materials, and has a raw, dynamic feel.

Russell Clower, head of Visual Merchandising at the Academy of Art, worked with his class to design the space and create all of the shop fittings as a class assignment. Clower showed me around the Academy of Art workshop, which was packed with a marvelous jumble of recycled wood shelving, colored distressed shop fittings, wooden bicycle wheels and clocks, and the fantastic SHOP! sign, studded with colored bulbs like an ultra modern yet alluringly wacky circus set.

The level of collaboration on all levels is admirable, and crucial to this project. “Learning to cooperate is central to working in the fashion industry, says Duffty. When students work in teams on creating a brand, they learn to identify each other’s strengths, and how to communicate and solve problems. When this doesn’t happen, they see the products suffer, and experience how their message is diluted or misrepresented. I can’t wait to see the finished product, and how well the all the collaborations come together.”

Bethany Scott Meuleners and Sabah Mansoor Husain of Mansoor Scott, both graduates in 2010 of the MFA Fashion Design program add, “We're excited to be a part of this new endeavor for the School of Fashion. We think that it’s a great opportunity for the school to partner with current students and alumni to help drive visibility for up and coming designers.”

And we can’t wait to take the SHOP! mandate literally - let’s shop!

Pop-up is open Monday, May 19 - May 31 at 2225 Jerrold Avenue, at 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Watch a video of Keanan Duffty’s product development class pitching their products, and learn more about the Academy of Art University’s SHOP! in the video below by Jason Shaeffer.