NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Fashion and interior merchandising students at Stephen F. Austin State University have a passion for purple. In fact, they are competing in a design contest to create an official tartan plaid for the university.

More than a dozen students submitted their original designs using only purple, white, black and gray. A committee composed of 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. Voting via the university's Web page will continue through May 3.

After the winning entry is selected and announced, the university will partner with Collegiate Tartan Apparel in Greensboro, N.C., to register SFA's tartan and manufacture licensed products, which will be offered for sale. The SFA student designer who creates the winning entry will receive a $500 cash award.

Tartan is a centuries-old pattern consisting of crisscrossed horizontal and vertical bands of multiple colors. It originated in Scotland, and patterns often were associated with specific families or clans. Today, unique tartan patterns are registered with the International Tartan Registry in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The idea of creating an official SFA tartan came about after Dr. Lynda Martin, director of the SFA School of Human Sciences, and Dr. Rebecca Greer, professor 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.

"SFA will celebrate its 90th anniversary this year, and we hope to have the first licensed products available for purchase in conjunction with the anniversary celebration," Martin said.

The university will collect licensing royalties from product sales, and Martin said the School of Human Sciences' fashion merchandising program will receive a percentage of the royalties to be used for instructional needs or scholarships.

To cast your vote, visit the website at