CSU students get an inside look at the New York fashion industry

Design and Merchandising students visited Coach in NYC

Over spring break, a group of students from the Department of Design and Merchandising got hands-on experience when they participated in the New York Study Tour. Both fashion and interior design students had the opportunity to visit New York City and gain valuable knowledge about the opportunities and challenges present in today’s global industry.

Professor Karen Hyllegard and Department Head Nancy Miller accompanied apparel and merchandising students on the trip. “The New York Study Tour represents a unique opportunity for students in the apparel and merchandising program to experience, first-hand, the inner workings of the NYC fashion industry,” said Hyllegard. “The trip provides students with insights into the daily operations of apparel companies and an enhanced understanding of the roles and responsibilities of fashion designers, product developers, communications and marketing directors, sales representatives, and trend forecasters, which is invaluable as they contemplate options for their own internships and careers in the industry.”

Kristin Breakell
Kristin Breakell in New York’s Central Park.

Kristin Breakell, a senior apparel and merchandising student, reflects on her experience in the Big Apple.

Why did you decide to participate in the New York Study Tour?

I’ve always been really interested in the New York fashion industry. New York is one of the fashion capitals and is home to some of the largest fashion companies in the world. I think as students entering this industry, it is important that we are knowledgeable about what is going on in New York. I also decided to participate in the study tour because I thought it presented a great opportunity to speak with industry professionals and build a strong network. I plan to move to New York after graduation, and success in this industry depends a lot on who you know.

What did you do on the trip? What companies did you visit?

Ugg signThe trip included various professional visits as well as cultural and social activities. We had the opportunity to tour the Macy’s flagship store, which is the world’s second largest department store. We also visited Tory Burch, Coach, Tracy Reese, Natori, M&S Schmalberg, Ugg, and The Doneger Group. Each professional we visited with spoke to different aspects of the industry, which I thought was really helpful. We even got to meet and speak to Josie Natori, the CEO and founder of The Natori Company.

The cultural and social activities on the trip were really enjoyable. We had the opportunity to go on a Manhattan Harbor Dinner Cruise, meet CSU alumni currently working in the New York fashion industry, and see a Broadway show. We also visited the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). The exhibit at FIT was entitled “Black Fashion Designers” and showcased pieces from some of my favorite designers, including Balmain, Off-White, and Public School.

What was your favorite part of the trip?

My favorite part of the trip was getting the chance to truly experience New York City. It was the first time I had spent an extended period of time in the city, so it was a trip of firsts for me. It was my first time riding the subway, walking through Central Park, and seeing a Broadway show. Having the opportunity to attend a launch party for one of my favorite brands, Everlane, was also pretty exciting.

Museum at FIT
Students visited the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

What did you learn from this experience?

I felt like I received some really great advice on the trip and gained valuable insight into the New York fashion industry. I think learning in a classroom setting is really important, but you can’t truly understand a topic until you get hands-on experience with it. This trip gave me that hands-on experience by allowing me to interact with industry professionals and teaching me how to navigate the city.

After this trip, I feel much better prepared for my future in the industry.

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.