Students’ creativity rocks Project OR climbing pant design challenge

Student contestants competing in the sixth Project OR, a 48-hour design competition, came to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011 knowing little about technical outdoor apparel. But they learned quickly. SNEWS takes a look at each competitor’s design -- and has photos to help you get a closer look.

Student contestants competing in the sixth Project OR, a 48-hour design competition, came to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011 knowing little about ice climbing and technical outdoor apparel. Didn’t take them long to figure it out, though. They each left having completed a prototype of a women’s ice climbing pant — and some knowledge of what it takes to succeed in the industry.

Each competitor began the mission on the first day of the show, Jan. 20, after being told the challenge was to design a climbing pant for a recreational female ice climber. They were required to create it from concept to prototype in just two days.

Melaney Stevens (photo – right), a bridal design student from Oklahoma State University, won Project OR with her climbing pant that was considered both athletic and subtly feminine by the judges. The blue-almost-black flexible Schoeller base was trimmed with green JRC Reflex reflective material and YKK hot pink zippers. Stevens used the same Schoeller material to create a built-in insulating base layer.

Silvia Guttmann (photo – left) of the University of Minnesota was the preliminary sketch winner and the competition runner up, as well as the People’s Choice winner. Sharks inspired her slim-fitting climbing pant, with expanding pleats on the Cordura fabric around the knees and a custom reflective shark logo printed by 3M.

Jena Shores, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, shaped her design around articulated knees, and a crotch and stirrups that had generous stretch in both seated and climbing positions. The drawstring waist from ITX Nexus accommodated gloved hands by tightening when pulled in one direction and releasing when pulled in the other.

Sara Creech graduated from Purdue University with a degree in apparel design and technology and came to Winter Market with an outer space-inspired style. She included teal panels from Schoeller along the leg to flatter the female figure and at the same time provide sturdy protection. The knee pads were inserted and removed through quilted surface pouches. 

Michelle McCarthy, a senior at the University of Rhode Island, used Hyperbola’s tweed patterned wool/acrylic/polyester blend outer material as the base of her pant lined with DuPont’s Serona and padded at the knees with Polartec fleece. McCarthy manipulated the Cordura fabric at the knee and back ankle, and added reflective scalloping from JRC Reflex around the pockets.

Magaly Flores, a senior at Woodbury University, made her climbing pant’s shell and lining from Schoeller fabric for water repellency, breathability and insulation. The pant’s side, back yoke and crotch were built with flexible Polartec material. Four layers of material at the knee, along with a concave curve stitched to straight fabric, were designed to provide protection while climbing.

Panel judges were from JanSport, Alien Communications, Promostyl and Westcomb Outerwear. For more information and to see videos of the competition, click here.

–Elizabeth O. Hurst