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It’s official -- IU now has its own plaid

Linda XiongLinda Xiong, a Carmel native and a senior majoring in Apparel Merchandising and Fashion Design in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, created the winning design. Her entry received the most votes in an online vote among four designs that ended Feb. 21.

The winning design will now be licensed and trademarked through Indiana University as the university's official plaid, representing all campuses. Apparel Merchandising undergraduate students will use the official plaid to design new products each year, and will make every effort to work with fair trade and eco-friendly vendors.

To vote for items you’d like to see created using IU’s official plaid, visit

"The sky is the limit on how this plaid could be used," said Ashley Hasty, apparel merchandising lecturer and project organizer.  

Plaid #4Xiong said the first two things she wants for herself are a plaid scarf -- a wool one, for winter -- and a bag or a purse. She’ll have need of that scarf before long: a senior at IU’s Bloomington campus, she is moving to chilly Milwaukee after graduation to join Kohl’s in product development. 

Personal choices aside, Xiong said the first plaid item she’d like to see is a silk tie.

“I’m a huge basketball fan, and I’d love to see Tom Crean in a plaid tie,” she said, declaring her excitement over adding to the history of IU. “As a senior, it feels great to give back to the place that has been my home for the past four years.”

Xiong, the second of four children born to Hmong parents who emigrated from Laos, says she has known since she was a student at Carmel High School that she wanted a career in retail and fashion. She joined Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) – the organization that sponsored the competition -- in her sophomore year at IU. 

The winning plaid relies heavily on shades of IU crimson.

“I wanted it to be more crimson than cream because crimson is a color that people relate to IU,” Xiong said. “I also wanted it to be simple but recognizable.”

More than 7,780 votes were cast in the IU plaid competition; voters included current undergraduate and graduate students, more than 4,000 alumni, hundreds of faculty and staff members, parents of current students and other fans of the university.

"This competition has been an exciting opportunity for creative students to apply themselves, defining a representation of their spirit of IU that will live well beyond their time on campus," Hasty said. “I look forward to seeing what the Apparel Merchandising students design in their product development classes.”

What’s next?

IU Plaid: A timeline

  • Fall 2011: Students in Free Enterprise seeks design proposals from undergraduate students.
  • Dec. 9: By the deadline, 26 students submit designs.
  • Next: SIFE narrows the submissions to six finalists and sends to panel of judges:
    • Michael Ping, product manager for men's and boy's accessories with Kohl's Department Stores and an IU Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design alumnus.
    • Amy Levin, founder/creative director of College Fashionista and an AMID alumna.
    • Jessica Quirk, personal style blogger at What I Wore and an AMID alumna.
    • Judith Rose, owner of Bloomington-based Textillery Weavers.
    • Kirstine Lindemann, senior assistant academic dean, IU College of Arts and Sciences.
    • Jean Robinson, executive associate dean, IU College of Arts and Sciences.
    • JT Forbes, executive director of the IU Alumni Association
  • Jan. 24, 2012: The judges pick the final four; online voting opens.
  • Feb. 21, 2012: We have a winner, and our official IU plaid!

Students in Free Enterprise

SIFE is an international nonprofit organization that brings together the leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. Founded in 1975, SIFE has active programs on more than 1,500 college and university campuses in 40 countries.

The SIFE team at Indiana University Bloomington is a national-award-winning student group that participates in projects with the intent to improve the quality of life and standard of living of communities. SIFE is housed in the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design in IU's College of Arts and Sciences.