My name is Angela Medlin. I am the Founder and Director of the educational product creation resource – The Functional Apparel and Accessories Studio (FAAS) at PENSOLE x PNCA, where students are instructed in the processes of research, design, and development specifically for performance apparel and accessories. My career as a Lead Designer and Design Director in global brands include Nike, Adidas, The North Face, Eddie Bauer, and Levi Strauss & Co. Building activewear, sportswear, and outerwear collections with these varied brands has challenged my design perspective in wonderful ways, developed my problem solving muscles, and has given me an amazing toolbox of lifestyle and technical apparel design experience.
My approach to product creation is part instinct, part research, part process, part team work, and grounded in story telling. I’ve never met a design challenge I didn’t like and I’m always ready to assist others with achieving their creative potential. This journey began 25 years ago after graduating from NCSU College of Design, where I focused my degree on fashion, textiles, and illustration. VIEW PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS
In 1992, I ventured to the west coast for the job interview that would change my life! Cross Colours, Inc was one of the hottest urban brands in the apparel market. As the design assistant to the VP, TJ Walker, I was one of three people who created the famed message tees and textiles that would be worn by Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, TLC, and many other music industry influencers. I took every opportunity to build my skills graphic and apparel design which included revolutionizing how I worked. At that time, computers were fairly new to apparel designers so my goal was to be as digitally proficient and efficient as possible as I began my career.
This was one of the best tools to take with me on my next stop in the apparel industry: Adidas in Portland, Or. At Adidas, I was hired to design ‘All Purpose’ athletic apparel and eventually, the full Kid’s apparel category. However, my initial challenge was to convince leadership the apparel designers would be more productive working on computers as opposed to poster board. After three months of digitally ideating and merchandising over 800 sketches and revisions for the apparel design team, Peter Moore approved the budget to get computers for the entire apparel design team. Mission accomplished. This changed how designers at Adidas USA worked daily as the company grew.
In 1999, I joined Levi Strauss & Co to develop a new Mervyn’s Store private label called L2. Here, I partnered with merchandising to create trending sportswear for the Juniors consumer. I learned the ins and outs of starting a micro business and intricacies of designing denim. Four years later, I would return to Adidas in Portland for a second time to manage three global categories: Adventure (technical outerwear), Basketball, and Team Sport apparel while, also, designing a new category of athletic inspired lifestyle product for men and women.
In 2004, The North Face was starting to look at their New York consumer as a strong lifestyle inuencers for outerwear. I was invited to join the design team to start the first Lifestyle Outerwear category that would include relevant trends, functional properties, and a newly designed aesthetic and fit for women’s outerwear geared towards the city consumer. This was the perfect mash up of performance and fashion! Some of the most accomplished athletes ( Jimmy Chin, Ingrid Backstrom, Conrad Anker, and more ), award winning actors (Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Anistan, Cameron Diaz and others), and world philanthropist, Richard Branson could be seen wearing the stylish and functional product. Within a few years, the Lifestyle outerwear category tripled in growth. Combining fashion and performance was a proven success. As a result, I was recruited to Eddie Bauer by the Vice President, Damien Huang.
At Eddie Bauer, I lead a team of technical and lifestyle designers for both men and women. The goal was to bring the same combination of technical and lifestyle properties into this pioneering outerwear brand. The focus was on fit and function. After four years of building innovative product and collaborating with sportswear teams, I entered Nike, Inc. for the Jordan Brand.
In 2015, as Design Director for Jordan Apparel at Nike, the goal was to modernize the aesthetic and fit of apparel across Jordan Sportswear, Training, Basketball, and coordinate Accessories. This would be a game changer for the brand. Working with cross-functional Directors, a team of six designers, and the consumer’s insights, we accomplished a successful global launch of the modern look of Jordan in 2017. This new aesthetic for Jordan apparel, has not only been touted as a ‘new day’ for the Jordan apparel but is firmly grounded in the iconic styles and authenticity of what made Jordan the Greatest Of All Time.
Now, partnering with Pensole and PNCA, I am excited to introduce the FUNCTIONAL APPAREL AND ACCESSORIES STUDIO (FAAS). This program is specifically geared towards designing PERFORMANCE apparel. Students will ‘learn by doing’ as they participate in the same product creation processes used to build functional apparel in the manufacturing industry.
Photo: The Business Journals