AOBA Student Design Competition Turns 10!

It hardly seems possible, but the AOBA Student Design Competition is celebrating its 10th year this fall! The mission of the competition has been realized through the past years, with alpaca fiber being incorporated into the curriculum of fashion and textile design college departments throughout the country.

The competition has steadily grown throughout its history. In the first year, there were only 12 entries, and everybody got a ribbon! This year we have about 200 actual entries coming from 35 schools, and well over 400 students working with the alpaca sample kits sent to instructors for use in the classroom.

This year’s theme is once again “Alpaca: The Earth Friendly Fiber”. The AOBA Student Design Competition relies on the kindness and support of AOBA members and affiliates who believe in the mission and future of the program.

None of the competition could occur without the generous donation of roving, yarn and fabric supplied to the schools and the monetary donations to fund the scholarship program. Each year, the competition requires monetary donations for scholarships and awards, and 40,000 yards of yarn, 15 pounds of roving, and 15 yards of fabric. While that seems like a lot, the small donations add up, and each year we somehow are able to fulfill the needs.

The AOBA Fiber Committee is responsible for the SDC, with a coordinator assigned the task for running the competition. Here's how the competition works:

  • August - the individual college instructors are sent the official announcement of the competition. Instructors then contact the SDC Coordinator to request sample kits for their students.
  • Early September - the sample kits are sent to the school instructors.
  • October and November - the students develop their design board entries following the competition rules and using the alpaca yarn, roving and fabric we sent to them.
  • November - the entries arrive for judging.
  • December - Judging occurs by nationally acclaimed textile and apparel professionals.
  • January - The finalists are invited to the Student Design Retreat which occurs in Mid February.
  • February - The SDC Retreat occurs, where the top finalists have a great weekend learning about alpacas and their fiber, network with one another, and go to fun places in TN. The instructors and the sponsors of the students are also invited to join the fun.
  • March - The entries are sent back to the students, and the process starts all over again as we collect donations of yarn and fabric for the next year.

There are several ways to be a sponsor for the Student Design Competition:

  • individual student sponsorships, where sponsors are matched up with nearby participating schools
  • operational and scholarship donations, which provide funding for the awards and scholarships as well as promotional materials for this year and the future
  • Alpaca yarn, roving and fabric in natural colors or dyed, which are sent to the participating school instructors for use in designing entries. Materials should be labeled for content and should contain over 50% alpaca fiber

All sponsors and donations are recognized at www.alpacafashion.com , the home site for the competition.

Donations are being accepted fulfill the school requests for the fall semester and to fund the awards part of the competition set for the AOBA Winter Conference in January, 2013.

If your farm, business, and/or affiliate would like to become an SDC sponsor, please fill out the general/student sponsor form available at www.alpacafashion.com and send it with payment to AOBA. To donate yarn, roving and/or fabric, please fill out the materials donation form available at www.alpacafashion.com, include the form with your donated materials, and send it to the address below.

For more information contact Ruth Fuqua, AOBA Student Design Competition Coordinator, 7236 Lebanon Road, Mt Juliet, TN 37122, email hickorybluffalpacas@comcast.net

The AOBA Student Design Competition:

Together, we can make a difference for the future.


Finalists and their instructors visit the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN

Brenau University visits an alpaca farm in GA to get inspiration for design board entries

The boxes of entries arrive at the AOBA office in November

Nancy Rutherford and Jennifer Bennett judge the entries, as Kate Eggleston calculates the scores

the top 6 places in fashion and textiles are selected

The top essay is chosen from all entries

2005 past SDC finalists

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2006 past SDC finalists

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2009 past SDC finalists

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Tour of Manuel Studio, SDC Retreat weekend learning about alpaca fleece. SDC Retreat weekend

SDC Awards Reception

Over the years, the SDC finalists have produced prototypes from their award winning designs. Here a just a few of them:


Amy Blaker, Harper College, 2006

Chantel Lee, RCC Academy, 2009

Carin Sauerwein, Philadelphia University, 2008

Christy Carlson, Brenau University, 2009

Julia Kersten, Harper College, 2009

Olga Pasman, Harper College, 2007

Angela Jenkins, Haywood Community College, 2010

Catherine Alter, Haywood Community College, 2011