She was finally a part of it. After working hard on her application and her sketch designs, Kelly Martin, a junior majoring in apparel and design, had been selected to go to New York City and work directly with leading figures in the fashion industry.
Martin was selected to be a part of the fashion world through the Teen Vogue Fashion University program, a three-day event that took place Oct. 18-20 and included seminars with professionals from the fashion industry, shopping parties and connections with fellow fashion students from across the nation. This experience gave Martin the opportunity to be a part of the city and the fashion world buzz, allowing her to make connections with industry officials who could one day make her career.
“I could easily watch or read interviews from the same people I saw online, but that would just be me sitting in my room by myself on the computer. Being there in person in the city where it’s all happening is a totally different feeling,” Martin said.
Experiences like Martin’s are the first step into the door of the fashion industry and are key for students studying fashion on the collegiate level. Hanna Roberts, a senior majoring in fashion retail, also took to the streets of New York City over the summer with a 2 1/2 month internship with Coach, working in the product development section of its wearables department. Roberts said the program helped her discover the type of career she wants to have and to network with people in the industry.
“The relationships you build with people are the most important things you can do,” Roberts said.
Anna Beth Lancaster, a freshman majoring in fashion retail, said she hopes to enter the fashion industry by one day owning her own boutique. In preparation for this, she said she is excited for the internships she is planning to apply for and the types of people she will meet while pursuing her goal. For her, fashion is more than just the clothes she wears.
“I wake up, and I see fashion in everything I do, even the little things. For me it all matters, like the color of my toothbrush, decorating my dorm room, even looking cute when working out. It’s my passion,” Lancaster said.
All three students said they have dreamed of being a part of the fashion world since they were little, before they even knew what fashion meant. Their love for fashion has impacted each of them differently. For Martin, fashion offered her the ability to use her love for art and bring it to life. She wants to go into the movie industry, designing wardrobes for shows and films.
“I think I’m so drawn to fashion because it’s art you wear. Even if you’re wearing yoga pants, that’s your expression of what your hobbies are or how you’re feeling that day. I’m specifically drawn to costumes because the outfit of the character can tell as much, if not more, about them as their dialogue,” Martin said.
But the fashion industry is competitive. Babs Davis, director of the University’s fashion retailing program, said although most students find a job after graduation, they must possess a very strong work ethic and a positive attitude. They need to start building their resume during their freshman year if they want to make a name for themselves in the industry, she said.
“For people in whole sale and buying and public relations, it’s not as glamorous as it looks. You have to work really hard, having a really strong work ethic with a positive attitude to succeed,” Davis said.
There are additional challenges in the fashion world outside of gaining connections and finding a niche. For Roberts, although it offers a different aspect in the workplace, a struggle she faces is managing the creativity of fashion with the science of business.
“Trying to tap into my creative side at any moment can be hard, as well as trying to balance both the creative side and the business side without one overpowering the other,” Roberts said.
Even with the obstacles facing them, Martin, Roberts and Lancaster said they remain passionate about fashion and are intent on achieving their dreams.
“Pursue your passion. Do what you’re passionate about, and you are going to be successful,” Lancaster said.