The Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS), as it is now known, can be traced to the earliest days of State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG). In 1892, the founder of UNCG, Dr. Charles D. McIver, envisioned a college for women that would not only prepare students for careers in teaching or business but would also foster their development as wives and mothers. Antiquated as that latter goal may seem now, from the earliest days of classes on the State Normal campus, young women were engaged in the study of foods and cooking as well as learning how to sew and make clothing.
As soon as 1904, students could even major in Domestic Arts, which included studies in clothing and textiles. The Department of Clothing and Textiles and Housing, established in 1917, has evolved quite significantly over the twentieth century and even celebrated its 100th year as a department on campus in 2017. In its earliest manifestation, the CARS department offered courses in sewing, design, textiles, color, textiles manufacturing, historic textiles, and millinery.
During the 1920s, as many buildings were constructed on campus, a Home Management House was built on McIver Street in 1922 and the Home Economics building was constructed in 1928. The Home Management House was developed as a place for what would now be called experiential learning. Students could put into practice the skills they were learning in their courses, whether cooking, sewing, child care, decorating, or financial management.
The first Bachelor of Science Degree in Home Economics was awarded in 1922 and the first Master of Science Degree in Home Economics was bestowed in 1928. The 1937 College Catalog, included a description of some of the courses offered, including Problems of Family Finance, Advanced Home Furnishing, Home Relationships, and Food Selection and Preparation.
During the early 1940s, a second Home Management House was built on West Market Street and became part of the home economics curriculum. The program goals were explained as: “A six weeks period of residence in a home management house is required of all seniors in home economics. It is the culmination of four years study of theory–a practical unifying experience. Each girl has the opportunity to evaluate the house as a satisfactory back ground for enriched family life. The choice, arrangement, care and use of equipment is planned with the purpose of making an efficient, attractive and liveable home.” [sic]
CARS became the Area of Clothing and Textiles in 1936 and, in 1975, was renamed again to the Department of Clothing and Textiles. In 1997, as the department experienced another transformation, it was renamed the Department of Textile Products Design and Marketing.
Over the course of the twentieth century, the field of Home Economics diversified dramatically and now extends well beyond its origins of training for women in homemaking skills. Fields of study that may have traditionally fallen under the heading of Home Economics are now represented by distinct departments at UNC Greensboro, including degree programs in Economics, Education, Human Development & Family Studies, Nutrition, Public Health Education, and CARS.
CARS has evolved into a strong academic program preparing students for careers in apparel design, retail and consumer studies, and global apparel and related industries. In 1995, the department was selected for the Award of Excellence by the American Textile Manufacturers’ Institute for the outstanding curriculum as well as for faculty and student work with industry professionals. CARS has enjoyed involvement of industry leaders such as Cone Mills (based in Greensboro until its disestablishment in 2004), VF Corporation, Burlington Industries, and various others in the Triad area through an industry advisory board as
well as through scholarships, internships, tours, and lectures.
As of June 2018, “CARS ranks No. 4 among fashion merchandising programs at public and private universities in the South and is one of the top 15 programs at public universities across the nation for fashion merchandising. The rankings are based on academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and value of program and geographic location.” From its humble beginnings in 1892, CARS has become a nationally recognized academic program preparing students for professional careers around the world.
By Suzanne Helms
Harrison, E. L. (2018, June 27). UNGGNow. Retrieved July 3, 2019, from https://newsandfeatures.uncg.edu/cars-top-ranked-fashion-merchandising/
Unknown author (2006). History of the Department of Textile Products Design and Marketing. Retrieved August 10, 2006, from http://www.uncg.edu/tdm/tdm_department/dept_history.html
Copy of article obtained from Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives.