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Student design selected for SFA’s official tartan

Approximately 7,000 votes were cast in a competition to pick a plaid to represent Stephen F Austin State University, and the top three finalists were all senior students majoring in fashion merchandising. 

Kelcie Brown of Bowie won the competition and received a $500 prize for her work. The top two finalists were Houston residents Karla Acosta and Simone Evans. 

The project was organized by Dr. Becky Greer, professor and associate director of the School of Human Sciences, who said that a unique plaid that has been registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans in Edinburgh, Scotland, is known as a tartan plaid. The blocks of color that repeat vertically and horizontally in a distinctive pattern of squares and lines is known as a sett, and the registry records the pattern by counting the number of threads of each color that appear in the sett.

“Kelcie specified the meaning that was built into the tartan so that it truly represents the university,” Greer said. “The number of yarns of each color is highly symbolic, representing the years the university has been open and the year the Chief Caddo tradition began, the acreage upon which the main campus is located, the number of students currently enrolled, the number of areas of study offered, and the year Dr. Pattillo became university president.

The university has partnered with Collegiate Tartan Apparel in Greensboro, N.C., to register SFA’s tartan and manufacture licensed products. A percentage of royalties from product sales will benefit instructional needs or scholarships in the School of Human Sciences. 

Tartan originated in Scotland, and patterns often were associated with specific families or clans. The idea of creating an official SFA tartan came about after Greer and Dr. Lynda Martin, chair of the SFA School of Human Sciences, attended a conference presentation by an administrator from North Dakota State University. After learning about NDSU’S successful tartan project, the pair decided to initiate a similar project at SFA. 

“Our goal is to have the first product launch of a men’s tie and women’s scarf this fall in conjunction with the 90th anniversary celebration of the university,” Greer said. “Other products will be rolled out periodically after the initial launch.”

According to representatives from Collegiate Tartan Apparel, SFA will be the first university in Texas partnering with their company – and possibly the first university in Texas – to have a registered tartan.

Fourteen plaids were submitted for SFA’s competition, and a committee that included faculty members and administrators narrowed the field to 10. Dr. Baker Pattillo, SFA president, then selected three designs to be voted on by SFA stakeholders.