In less than a week I will be accompanying the fashion students of Genesee Community College, as well as anyone else interested in expanding the horizons of their knowledge of the fashion business, to one of the largest fashion capitals in the world, New York City. This annual trip to NYC has become a rite of passage for many of the fashion students at GCC, and for good reason. Professor Dudkowski and Professor Ehrhart, the resident Fashion Business program professors, are networking experts. Both of them have a never-ending list of contacts that spans continents, ensuring that each yearly trip to NYC is filled with unique and once-in-a-lifetime experiences in the fashion world. This trip is no exception. After spending a fun-filled day solo in the city on Wendesday October 8th, we will all rise early on Thursday morning in order to visit the John Varvatos showrooms. John Varvatos is an American contemporary menswear designer. He was the recipient of the CFDA: Menswear Designer of the Year award in both 2001 and 2005, he was also the winner of the Perry Ellis Award for menswear in 2000, and in 2007 he was named the designer of the year by GQ. This type of visit should not be experienced lightly, very few people get to step foot into this showroom, let alone tour it. We will then have the opportunity to visit Buffalo David Bitton Showrooms and receive a tour by PR Director, Diane Alexander.
As many readers of the GCC blog may remember, the college has a special relationship with Buffalo David Bitton. Last year students studying in the GCC fashion program were sent items from the new Buffalo David Bitton spring 2014 line in order to be used in the 33rd Annual fashion show, Ethereal, at Genesee Community College. The Buffalo David Bitton company launched in Canada in 1985 as a womenswear and menswear label and now sells to prestigious stores such as Macy’s and Bloomingdales. Their product line has been endorsed by a variety of A-list celebrities including Christina Aguilera, Halle Berry, and Brad Pitt, just to name a few. After we experience the rare opportunity of browsing these showrooms, the Fashion Business Merchandising students will split from the Fashion Design students. The Fashion Design students will visit Mood designer fabrics, the number-one shopping destination for fashion fabric in the world; Mood is now a household name amongst anyone on the hunt for high quality fabrics due to the popular reality TV show, Project Runway. At this point the fashion business merchandising students will visit The Doneger Group, the fashion industry’s leading source of global trend intelligence, focused merchandising direction, expert analysis of the retail business, and comprehensive market information.
On the morning of Friday, October 10th, everyone on the trip will have the opportunity to visit LIM and meet with Mr. Anthony Urmey, Admissions and Transfer Services Counselor. Urmey visited GCC last spring in order to inform prospective students who were hoping to transfer to LIM about financial aid and scholarship programs. We will also have the chance to hear two GCC alumni speak at this event.
Later that evening Emmy Award-winning stylist, Best-Selling author, and recent GCC keynote speaker, David Zyla, will be hosting a Fashion Speak Friday event on the topic of men’s neckties. The head haberdashery designer of Ralph Lauren along with the 90’s necktie giant, Gene Meyer, will be at this event as well. This will be a great chance for all students to network with influential people working in fashion; design students will also have the opportunity to sketch models after the show.
Saturday, October 11th, will conclude the trip, and begin our journey home to GCC. We will all return with a superior understanding and appreciation of the fashion business that we can apply to our individual programs of study, and ultimately assist us in the production of the 34th annual fashion show at Genesee Community College.
Be on the lookout for updates from the resident bloggers of the trip, and view instant updates on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #GCCINNYC .
We arrived at LIM College and were greeted by the Assistant Director of Admissions–Mr. Anthony Urmey. Mr. Urmey gave us an overview of all that LIM has to offer us as a potential transfer college.
Ms. Amanda Hallay is a professor at LIM, and she was nice enough to take some time out of her day to speak with us about the Merchandising program. She was able to help paint a picture of what we would experience in classes if we chose to attend LIM. Ms. Hallay was definitely a shining example of the expertise we could expect from the faculty.
At this point a panel of LIM students–including 3 of GCC’s own alumni–answered any questions we had for them and told us about all of the ups and downs of classes and student life at LIM. At the end of the presentations our students were welcome to a tour of the campus. Who knows, some of us might end up choosing LIM after we graduate GCC!
In the late afternoon we were told to find a building on the west side of Manhattan. Luckily, we all made it to this location; some of us (myself included) had successfully hailed a taxi; others had bravely made the trek on foot! Whatever the mode of transportation, it was surely be worth our lightened wallets and worn-out feet; we were here to meet with representatives from Tommy Hilfiger.
When we arrived, we were directed to the Hilfiger lobby; from the crisp sofas, to the red patchwork carpet, the framed stars and stripes, and the Tommy Hilfiger promo videos playing on a flatscreen–this room itself exuded the Americana-prep that is Tommy Hilfiger.
From here, Ms. Catherine Welsh took us through the office areas, passed the showrooms, and into a meeting room where she filled us in on the history of Tommy Hilfiger (from man to brand-name).
Ms. Christina Caruso spoke with us about applying for summer internships–and offered some valuable advice for making living arrangements during internships in the city.
Ms. Anna Christensen and Ms. Amie Robinson from the Creative Projects Research and Development explained to us the process of taking the latest trends and creating a general concept for the designers to use as inspiration; this way Tommy Hilfiger captures the same aesthetic, even though there are numerous sects of design teams.
Next we got to learn about the system Tommy Hilfiger uses to create a uniform look in their visual merchandising store-wide. Personally, I was impressed to experience the infinite number of possibilities for employment within the fashion industry. As we students saw, fashion has truly become a specialized profession which demands hardworking individuals from an amazing number of backgrounds and areas of talent.
And so concluded our final field trip on this whirlwind city adventure. We broke back into small groups to try to squeeze in some final shopping, see last-minute sites, and maximize the mileage on our tired legs, before turning in for our last sleep in NYC.
There we met with Mr. Chris Olberding; the Vice President of the company. Gitman primarily focuses on menswear, and is a top producer of fine shirting and suiting in the USA. Mr. Olberding exhibited his zeal for the industry and spoke with us about the production of classic, quality clothing. Olberding helped us see how much precision is involved in such an industry; though the basic design and cut of the shirts does not change rapidly, the fabric choices for each line must be chosen meticulously. Possible fabric choices include material that is already produced and ready to be used as-is; manipulated versions of prints or plaids; a print created using a design; and reproduced vintage prints.
And with that we were free to explore the city–for me, it was time to head down to the garment district in search of some new fabric to work with!