A New York Moment
Mount Mary Students find the keys to a Fashion Career in the Big Apple
"Through each subject my teachers have walked me through the journey of development as a designer, and now I can see I am the kind of young professional these companies are looking for in order to continue their business."
Ashley Duncan, fashion design major
I step through the clear revolving door as it turns, walking in-step with the speed of the rotation. The glass is perfectly clear and glossy- shimmering with the reflection of the sun bouncing off of it from the outside. Inside lies a towering lobby with glass walls blinding with the purity of the sun shining through them. To the left, a larger-than-life model reigns down the runway through a wall sized audio-visual video display. I feel lost in a sea of pixelated fashion glory that envelops the wall and every person that stands against it. The model is wearing a sparkling slip dress that radiates against the stark black of the back round she’s walking away from. The dress itself is a marvel, finished with thousands of sewn-in crystals, as part of the Coach spring/summer 2018 ready-to-wear collection. We check in at the front desk, announcing our appointment and getting the security passes to scan through the gates to the elevator. Our group spends about an hour meeting with some of the product developers discussing how Coach runs its design process. Everything from leather sourcing to pattern making is managed from the very sky-scraper we stood in. Being next to the legendary label that is Coach, seeing the tradition of their work, knowing I could be a part of this one day, it was almost enough to make me shred my return tickets.
Visiting New York has always been a dream of mine. Ever since I was a child I’ve felt like being a part of something greater than myself. I grew up in Kaukauna, WI. A small town in an old neighborhood, I had a lot of time to myself. As a child my mind always seemed to be elsewhere, imagining fantastical places to take myself to. I could feel the bustle, the energy pulsing through the New York streets all the way back to my little corner of suburbia. I’d picture a great hive made up of towering architecture and multitudes of soles walking to and from inspiring places with inspiring purposes. That’s what I wanted to be a part of. It still is.
Just like the people who wear it, fashion is continually changing, it’s an aspect of culture reflected in the items we hold closest to us. To understand fashion as an anthropologic experience, it must be observed where it is most fully alive; as one of the reigning fashion capitals of the world, New York is always a good idea. Long-dedicated to educating each respective major to the greater development of the whole person, the Mount Mary Fashion Design department looks to expose their students to a working knowledge of fashion that has the greater perspective of style and business found in the ultimate fashion center.
18 students attended the trip, lasting five days long, filled with scheduled appointments at fashion offices held during business hours around the city. At every appointment we discussed how that particular office did business, their keys to success, and how they include young professionals in their corporate culture.
Walking to every appointment was a brush with the city. Sidewalks are always filled with people rushing from place to place. Men in important business suits, tourists taking selfies, women in impressive looking heels, all buzzing around trying to get to where they need to be while the sun continues to peak through the shadows of each sky-scraper. And it’s kind of stinky. Through the streets the haze of sewer and trash are never fully out of perception. There’s something very raw about New York, it’s impressive, but far from perfect. I think that’s what I like about it so much. It has so much weight and intelligence and glory, but it’s also broken in a very human way that makes me feel like I belong. I can be a part of something that’s so extraordinary yet I don’t have to pretend to be perfect in ways I know I’m not. Everyone who is there contributes to the culture just the way they are, and that gives me hope.
Each appointment was a delight and an opportunity to understand how the best of the best do their business. My personal favorite appointment was with a company called Fashion Snoops. As the university itself holds a membership with their services, it was a pleasure to meet the schematics behind the brand. Fashion Snoops works as a trend forecasting service, working to read the creative outputs from culture shaped by current events, developments in technology and people groups. Their research is what helps fashion stay relevant, and to a person like me who seeks to understand though effective communication and wording, I identified with their values and purpose. Who knew there is a place in the major fashion world for a girl like me who takes style a little too seriously and gets wordy about it when someone asks her why. Well, now I do know, and I’ve never felt more understood.
When I close my eyes, I can practically see myself on the New York hustle, sitting at a plush swivel chair in my design office. What makes this trip so invigorating is that I know I can be successful in New York because I’m growing into the person I wanted to become since my childhood. I see myself advancing through class to class starting my Freshmen year at Mount Mary-knowing little about the creative process or how to present myself professionally, to masterfully orating my concepts and executing my practiced technical skills. Through each subject my teachers have walked me through the journey of development as a designer, and now I can see I am the kind of young professional these companies are looking for in order to continue their business. I have the communication skills, the leadership skills, the learning capacity, creativity and style that make potential applied worthwhile.
Five days went by all too quickly, of course, and by Monday night we were packing our bags onto the airline shuttle. I slung my suitcase into the trunk and scurried into the van amidst the bustle of New York traffic, slamming the door shut behind me. Eventually, the van began to summit the Manhattan bridge out of Mid-town, and I saw the city in full view, lying before me, inching further and further away. It finally dawned on me that I was leaving. The place I had felt second nature in was now being ripped away, like a pre-mature band-aid, and it was the most unnatural sensation. Parting is such sweet sorrow, indeed.
Safe to say I feel like New York and I are rather star-crossed; one a small town girl with big dreams and stars in her eyes, the other holding the world at its feet just waiting to be taken on. Who’s to say whether the City won’t chew me up and spit me out one day- but like any love, all you can do is appreciate the time you have together in the present. I savor the vision the city has left me with, now I only wait till we’re together again.