Many students fear navigating big cities alone, as they can initially appear overwhelming. That’s why Lina Castro, director of Immaculata University’s Fashion Merchandising program, takes students from her classes to New York City multiple times a year to prepare them for work in the fashion industry.
New York, considered one the “Big Four” fashion cities along with London, Milan, and Paris, provides graduating seniors an abundance of job opportunities in the fashion community, but students often shy away from the city because they fear the unknown.
“How we assist students in the transition from being in a protective environment to being on their own and finding their own way to survive big cities is important,” states Castro. “That is why I push very hard for these trips.”
On October 12, fourteen students and two faculty members took the two-hour drive from Immaculata to New York’s Garment District where the students gained experiential knowledge at several well-known business. The students first visited Tom’s Sons International Pleating, a family-owned company that uses a unique technique in apparel design and construction to give their garments a distinctive look. International Pleating works with high-end brands and many well-known fashion companies.
“There is this misconception about fashion. People believe that fashion is solely about the runway, the models, and everything pretty. We take students to production facilities in the city that perhaps they don’t have an opportunity to see until someone in the industry takes them there. Students realize that the fashion industry is a lot of work in a very enclosed community of people working for the same goal. We want students to see the process of the supply chain in action,” expressed Castro.
The students then visited Gerber YuniquePLM, a software company that helps businesses implement their cloud-based fashion Product Lifestyle Management (PLM) system for effortless digital product development. The students learned how Gerber uses technology to produce high-quality garments more sustainably and at a quicker rate. Using this unique technology, Gerber has assisted their clients in adapting a less popular business model within the industry, producing garments on-demand, rather than mass producing high quantities of inventory and risking profit loss.
Students also visited the shoe exhibition at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where they were challenged to explore their physical, social, and psychological relationships with footwear. As the students entered the exhibit, they were presented with unique designs of popular branded shoes displayed at various latitudes in front of an artistic backdrop. The theme of the exhibit was “Anatomy, Identity, Magic,” showing how this one sector of the fashon industry can make a big impact. Reflecting on their experience, students expressed how the visual representation of the displays inspired them creatively.
The students rounded out their trip with a visit to Bradlee International Ltd in Manhattan. Bradlee offers clientele exceptional fabric-sourcing of the latest fashion trends. This global fashion-fabric enterprise works with popular fashion brands Eileen Fisher, Lilly Pulitzer, Club Monaco, Loeffler Randall, Paige Premium Denim, and Alice & Olivia. During their visit, the students were able to learn about fabric-sourcing processes and the importance of maintaining close relationships with business partners in the industry.
Immaculata Freshman Hailey Murphy appreciated the opportunity to witness New York City first-hand. “The trip was fast-paced and on-the-go, which is a good representation of what it’s like to work in the industry,” she said. Murphy’s classmate Gwen Patrick also capitalized on the opportunity to learn more about the industry first-hand and welcomed the insight into both the business and design sides of the fashion industry.