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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Unlocking ‘The Vault’: New student group taps into behind-the-scenes of fashion industry

UW students create organization to host professional learning opportunities, events related to fashion industry
The Vault

Chanel, Gucci, Prada — the epitome of fashion. Naturally, when someone says they have a “passion for fashion” they are bound to know these names and, potentially, the designers. Consequently, when someone says they want to study fashion and go into the fashion industry, most people assume they want to go into fashion design to become the next Coco Chanel. In reality, however, the fashion industry is so much more than that.

University of Wisconsin students Melina Zarboulas and Marlo Pulliam sought to change that idea and create more opportunities for students by starting The Vault: Business Behind Fashion.

“Many people think of the fashion industry as just clothes and design, and while these are inarguably important focuses in the industry, there is immense overlap with so many other branches of study, including business, technology, communications and marketing, to name a few,” Zarboulas said.


While UW has many great organizations which are meant to help students network with like-minded students, The Vault “brings something a little different to the table,” according to its founders.

They hope to get students involved not only by creating a web of connections and providing insights on jobs in the fashion industry, but also by hosting fashion shows and service projects. The Vault plans to bring awareness to social issues with its service projects, such as volunteering for nonprofits and hosting donation drives.

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“We also plan to organize learning opportunities for members, including panels where industry professionals can impart their advice to students, networking fairs that can connect members to career connections and information and field trips that can help expand student perspective,” Pulliam said.

The largest event of their organization will be the member-run fashion show occurring at the end of each year, according to the cofounders.

Inspired by creative director Pranav Volety, the executive board plans to work on decolonizing the “human zoo” history of the runway. Their vision is an “exhibit style” show where the audience can move through different rooms interacting with models and learning the significance of their clothing.

Their goal is not to just visually impress guests, but also to educate them in unique ways.

“Through this fashion show, The Vault plans to exhibit student-created outfits as well as promote larger and smaller brands’ apparel,” Zarboulas said. “Clothing donations will also be part of the entry fee, and with a large audience turnout, we have high hopes to raise money for a nonprofit and donate a large amount of clothing to the less fortunate.”

The Vault is for anyone, regardless of their background. Cofounder and president  Zarboulas is a sophomore studying information and computer science with certificates in textile design and digital studies. Cofounder and vice president Pulliam is studying international studies and consumer behavior and marketplace studies with certificates in French, entrepreneurship and textile design.


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The founders love the idea of blending other industries with fashion.

“In our eyes, they are not mutually exclusive,” Pullman said. “We welcome as much diversity as possible through any perspectives, experiences and backgrounds that people are willing to express in our club.”

They pride themselves on the fact that they not only study fashion but also the several supporting branches of study.

Members of The Vault help run the fashion shows, attend trips which would expand industry knowledge, plan fundraising events and connect with professionals. They will also be opening various committees such as a creative team, a tech team, management team, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team and a finance Team.

“Every committee holds different responsibilities so that people are able to explore their personal interests through the club,” Pulliam said.

Both Pulliam and Zarboulas are unsure of what the future holds post-graduation as they are only sophomores, but both have some interest in pursuing fashion. Zarboulas is intrigued by many different fields and would love to explore the business side of fashion more professionally. Pulliam loves working with people and would like to pursue something in the creative realm, either with fashion or music.

As for their goals for The Vault, they hope to make it a nationwide club that spreads to other universities. They have also been communicating with other fashion organizations and plan to collaborate with them in the future. Along with fashion shows, fundraising events, volunteer work and networking trips, they also hope to host panels and career fairs.

“This is something to get excited about, and we hope students are doing just that,” Pulliam said. “We can’t wait to share more with the university as our club begins to exit the establishment period.”

Students interested in joining The Vault and learning more about the business of fashion can follow their Instagram @thevaultuwmadison and check out their website,, for any important updates.

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