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Meet Raedene Copeland

(As published in the autumn 2013 issue of etc magazine)

Raedene Copeland, Assistant Professor of Clothing and Textiles

Education: Ph D in consumer, apparel, and retail studies from the University of North Carolina.

Hometown: Tacarigua, Trinidad

What's your favorite class to teach?
Appearance and Culture. I am a foreigner, so I’m excited to bring an authentic voice as we go through all of the various cultures. Everyone in the business industry needs to understand global cultures because we’re in a global society now.

Have you ever been a fashion victim?
In the early ’90s, I used to take my mom’s jeans so they’d be baggy and wear oversized overalls. I was emulating the dress of the R&B group, TLC. I wasn’t embarrassed, though, I was cool.

Is there a current trend that you don't like?
Neons are pretty risky. I saw a lady wearing neon green jeans and a neon pink top which clashed because of the depth of shade. Neons are nice as an accent color, but it can be very difficult to successfully combine those colors and look attractive or well put together.

What conclusions have you made about dress and success from your research?
People don’t understand how strong a factor dress and appearance is for success. There is research that shows that people who are more attractive get paid more. If you can control your appearance, you aren’t vain; you aren’t superficial; you are smart and strategic.

Why do have a fashion program at a Christian university?
If you have no one of faith in the fashion industry, then you’re not finding a solution to some of the challenges you face when you feel like the clothing in the stores does not fit your morals. How do you spread your faith if you only stick to one field? Jesus was everywhere. It can be a pretty brutal industry, so we need to ensure that we’re funneling out students of faith who can have an impact.

What do your students say about you?
They say that class is fun, and they constantly tell me that I’m a tough professor. I want to help them develop a thick skin to pre-pare them for corporate life. I mix the fun with challenging coursework, because learning should be fun.

What do you want your students to know in order to succeed at SPU?
I want them to view school as a workplace and understand that each professor will have a different management style.

What are misconceptions about the clothing and textiles program?
When people hear “fashion,” they think frill and fun, but it is a business degree that focuses on the apparel industry. My students learn to run businesses, and look fashionable doing it.

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