When Oregon State University apparel design students Erin Hatley and Olivia Echols walked into their first class of Design and Human Environment 299, they had visions of runway gear, not magazine layout.

But their final project would take them to the design offices of Columbia Sportswear and the 2012 Portland Fashion and Style Awards.

The eight students of DHE 299, a three-week summer styling class taught by instructor Keith Nishida, have developed a 40-page online fashion magazine called DAMchic Magazine. It is available for viewing and download at http://tinyurl.com/bwp2fs4.

Hatley, the editor-in-chief of DAMchic, said it’s harder than she thought it would be.

“It was our life for two weeks,” Hatley said.

Echols, the creative director of the publication, said she was skeptical when Nishida first assigned the project.

“Week one I was in shock, like, ‘We have to do what?’” Echols said.

But Nishida though it was a logical forum for exploring and exposing student fashion design.

“I wanted to provide a space where students can experiment; to style and work toward creating a vision,” Nishida said.

DAMchic became a class-wide effort to create and produce content. With an extremely limited budget, they were forced to employ their own resources — and closets. Nishida said he wanted to teach students the importance of being resourceful and creative.

“With a zero-dollar budget, we pretty much used all of our own things,” Echols said.

With a class full of apparel and merchandising majors, however, insufficient clothing rarely is a problem.

“We have pretty big closets to pull from,” Echols said.

While a few students had experience in Photoshop and other editing and publishing programs, many learned the necessary skills as they went along.

The final product, which was released Sept. 6, contains a handful of fashion features, including a current event article on OSU’s new School of Design and Human Environment, a piece on fingernail art, how to dress stylishly on game days and a vintage story on what OSU home economics students wore in the university’s earliest years.

The magazine’s mission also was to have an up-to-the-minute, seasonal vibe.

“We wanted to focus on fall,” Hatley said about the first issue.

The goal is to eventually release an issue once a term, potentially with more advertisements. Production of a winter term edition is not certain, but Echols and Hatley said they’re confident there will be another issue in the spring.

“We looked at the major fashion publications for inspiration,” Hatley said, “as well as some online magazines.”

Nishida was impressed, to say the least. “It’s amazing what they were able to do with what they had,” he said.

In fact, shortly after it was launched, the magazine was nominated to be a top four finalist for Best Fashion Style Publication in the 2012 for the Portland Fashion and Style Awards.

Hatley said she was surprised by the response.

“I wasn’t expecting so many nominations,” she said. “It made us realize anything is possible with it.”

DAMchic will hold its first informational meeting Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. The location is yet to be determined. Students from all majors are encouraged to attend and join the team.

Joce DeWitt can be contacted at 758-9510 or joce.dewitt@lee.net.

Joce DeWitt is the Higher Education reporter for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached at 541-758-9510 of joce.dewitt@lee.net.