One afternoon this month, MU senior Annie Williams walked around campus seeking inspiration for the “Tiger Tartan” project. Remembering her first walk through the MU Columns as a freshman during Tiger Walk and looking ahead to her final walk through the Columns at Senior Send-Off, Williams thought about MU traditions.
That led Williams, whose major is textile and apparel management, to create a plaid that draws upon the six columns, Francis Quadrangle, Jesse Hall and the red and white campuses.
The Tiger Tartan project has textile and apparel management students working together to produce an official plaid for MU. The winning design will be introduced during Homecoming next fall.
Williams said she sought to have her design incorporate “things that everyone could relate to and traditional things. I have six little lines, and those represent the six columns and a small red and white stripe that represents red and white (campuses) and one small line of green to represent the Quad.”
The project was modeled on the University of Tennessee’s “Tennessee Tartan,” developed three years ago by a former MU professor, Nancy Fair. Jana Hawley, an assistant professor in textile and apparel management, brought the project to the MU campus in January.
Although only 12 students created their own plaids, about 80 students enrolled in the textile and apparel management courses that are participating in the project. Those classes are computer-aided design, branding, consumer research and analysis and product development.
The dozen designs were displayed at the MU men’s basketball game on Feb. 11 in the corridors of Mizzou Arena, and designers were on hand to explain the project and how they chose their plaid.
“My design is unique because it is not nearly as checkerboard as a lot of them, and it has a lot more black in it,” said junior Katie Peterson. “I know that, for myself, I tend to wear black colors instead of gold, and it’s a little bit more popular.”
In addition to displaying the plaids, the display boards included information about MU’s history and samples of how the plaids would look on items such as pajama pants, neckties and stadium blankets.
On Feb. 13, a focus group composed of 14 students, faculty, alumni and staff selected the top four designs, which will be subject to a vote of all students, faculty, alumni and staff starting Wednesday.
“I’m not used to seeing 12 different plaids at one time, so it was a little overwhelming, but they all did a good job,” said Linda Gilbert, MU’s trademarks and licensing administrator. “We were all very impressed with what they did and the research they did.”
The focus group looked for design, marketability, long-term appeal of the design, inspiration for the design and design appeal.
Focus group members “thought they were extremely well done and well thought out,” Hawley said. “They liked that they had historic significance and would go forward with longevity and made a statement about Mizzou.”
In addition to having the design developed into products that could be sold at the MU Bookstore, Tiger Team Store and a few other stores in Columbia, the winning designer will also receive a scholarship.
Once the plaid is chosen, it will be copyrighted by MU, and the licensing and trademarks department will approach some of the existing licensees to see whether they would like a role in the project.
After deciding on what products to develop, the licensing and the textile and apparel management departments would begin working to get the plaid into the marketplace, Gilbert said. A portion of the royalties from sales of the plaid are set to go toward a scholarship in textile and apparel management.
For Williams, the most rewarding part of being involved in the project is its potential longevity.
“Hopefully, this will become another one of those great traditions that we already have here at Mizzou,” Williams said.