New York, New York
As mentioned in the last post, we were accepted into the New York Field Seminar trip hosted by Indiana University's Apparel Merchandising program. This was a trip to learn about various jobs & retailers in the industry - as well as a networking opportunity & also a way to meet other students in the program! We were so excited for this trip, especially to be going together! Here's our day-by-day adventures - it's lengthy so stick with us!
Checked into the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. We were so excited to explore the concrete jungle & to purposefully get lost. We made our way through Times Square & walked like 30 blocks in hopes to find a yummy place to eat. Then we made our way to Central Park & people watched. It happened to be Mother's Day! Never seen so many people in one place. For dinner, the two of us successfully navigated to Chinatown via subway. We got hassled by a couple street vendors & Martha gave in to buying a $6 Hello Kitty ring (maybe worth 10 cents). Eventually we stumbled into a busy (maybe sketchy) restaurant. It turned out to be DELICIOUS. The couple next to us seemed to love it too as they got 5 entrees and were literally stuffing their faces. And for dessert......... Beautiful Memory Desserts..... Yes, we have beautiful memories from there.
First official day of the seminar began with BCBG's showroom & office. As always BCBG blew us away with their intricate & well tailered dresses. We were introduced to their Hervé Léger collection, a higher end brand of BCBG gowns. You might've seen one on Taylor Swift at the MTV Movie Awards. We also had a preview of the Fall 2014 collection - it's gorgeous! Keep an eye out!
Our second appointment was with a hat designer, Kurt Kress who works with Stylemark & Nine West, as well as select few other businesses. Kurt is an IU grad, woo! He told us about his journey through the fashion industry to his current job. Kurt grew up in a small Indiana town, he took a huge leap of faith when he moved to NYC. He has had a lot of experience from several different jobs including Liz Claiborne & French Connection, making him super knowledgable in the fashion industry. He gave us students many words of advice like networking is key, & never burn a bridge.
Next, we headed to the Empire State Building for our appointment at Li & Fung with Sheri Rosenfield. Li & Fung is a licensing company who works with brands like Calvin Klein, Nautica, DC, Tommy Hilfiger & more. Sheri was a gracious host & we loved hearing about her role working with children's brands at Li & Fung.
The last appointment of the day was at Lafayette 148. We were able to see a very vertical company in action where most processes are done in house. They own their own factory in China, where only Lafayette 148 is exclusively produced. This is beneficial to the company in the way that they can control their own production & not have to deal with a middleman. In their SoHo location, we were able to see pattern production, design process, an exclusive store, showroom, a photography studio & offices. The highlight of the appointment was meeting Edward Wilkerson, the creative director behind the brand. We got to see paintings, photographs from his travels & a sneak peak of his new book! He is a brilliant designer & inspired us with every word that rolled off his tongue.
Later, we had a group dinner in SoHo at Savore. We finally got to officially meet the other girls & have our first night of bonding!
Our day began with Ikeddi & Shareeka Meadows, an IU alum who buys from Ikeddi. Ikeddi sells to young trendy fast fashion retailers. The designers shared their inspiration boards with us from their Europe travels, since Europe is ahead of us fashion-wise. We enjoyed seeing their predictions & are excited for them to hit the racks!
Then we went to Donna Morgan, which is a company that designs dresses that fits every woman's needs. We saw their showroom, design room & other offices. We learned that palm & floral prints will soon be trending - you're welcome ;) We also learned the importance of e-commerce at Donna Morgan since they don't have brick & mortar stores. E-commerce is a booming industry & Donna Morgan is on top of it.
Next, we headed to Dumbo, Brooklyn to hear Katie Wickes Conovitz, another IU alum, speak about Twelve NYC, a product development company she started. Twelve NYC works with clients like Bloomingdales, Bobbi Brown & more to create accessory-like trinkets or gifts with purchase. We loved the bag they designed for a collab. with Born Free & Céline. Katie is super bright & has much determination. She said that when she started in the industry, it seemed like everyone was doing the same thing - Katie wanted to do something different so she left her job & started Twelve NYC! Go Katie!
Last stop of the day was Goldsmith, one of the most successful mannequin companies in the world. We met with Dan Evans, the President & Creative Director of Goldsmith. He said that mannequins started off as basic & now have evolved into art. Their showroom proves this with the AMAZING mannequins on display. We got to see the newest trends in mannequins - like interchangable make-up and faces, dreamlike bodies, wood finishes & the voluptuous collection. Martha's favorite was the pugs - of course! Dan warmly welcomed us into his natural habitat & made us feel so special!
To end the evening, our group headed to Broadway to see Wicked. Definitely different than what we were expecting but it was a funny little show!
Wednesday started off a little rocky with a cab driver taking us to 450th W. 25th instead of 45th W. 25th Street. Once we we're in the right place we headed up to our appointment with James Dimartino, an IU Grad as well, at the Bonobos office. Bonobos carries classic, preppy men's clothing. They operate mostly online with select guide shops. Their New York offices were fabulous with a great layout & chill music playing in the background, you could tell everyone really loved their job. We also got to see a preview of Fall for Bonobo's brand AYR - we both loved the contemporary style!
WGSN was our second stop, Mike Burns spoke to us about the business of forecasting trends. The company used to work off of trend books, but the internet and current technology has changed all of that for them. WGSN is a global company, they have teams everywhere. These teams meet twice a year to discuss what they found in their research & create a trend analysis. The trend forecast is done 2 years ahead & the design forecast is done 18 months ahead. Many large companies subscribe to WGSN to have a better understanding of the next season.
Next we heard from Ross Stores. The children's buying team did a mock buying meeting, with the actual buyers acting as buyers and one as a vendor. It was cool too see how a deal goes down as well as all the negotiation that is involved on both sides of the deal. We learned that buyer-vendor relationships are incredibly important, especially with off price retailers. It seems the employees of Ross are treated very well & thoroughly enjoy working for the company.
We completed our day with Adrianna Papell, a company that focuses on occasion dresses for tweens & up. The designer showed us his recent collection inspired by moody florals. They had many beautifully embellished gowns that were gorgeous and would make any woman feel fab. Adrianna Papell released a line of wedding & bridesmaids gowns that were shared with us. They also gave us goodie bags, thank you!
And now to the highlight of our day - the IU alumni reception for fashion merchandising graduates currently living in NYC, where we met an alum that currently works in wholesale for The Row, owned by our favorite style icons (as you should know) the Olsens!
Our trip is coming sadly coming to a close! Second to last day started with Doneger, a fashion forecasting company. We were shown "stories" of trend themes for the next season. THEY WERE SO COOL. They had inspirational images of runway looks, colors, architecture, texture & so much more. Abbey Doneger, the CEO, said "your career depends on you." Wise words from a very wise man!
Next, we headed to the Kohl's Design Center. We toured the offices & heard from planners & designers of various Kohl's brands like Lauren Conrad, Juicy Couture & Vera Wang. We were also able to go onto their city deck & get a great view of New York. Also - LC's next season has an adorable garden party inspiration - we also learned that she is very active in her involvement at Kohl's, which is so cool!
Marc Jacobs was our next stop. Alex Schneider, who now works at Marc by Marc Jacobs & is also an IU alum welcomed us to the offices. We got a sneak peak of the Fall collection - you're going to love it. One thing we learned is that the brand is trying to go back to their roots & the original Marc by Marc girl. The office was located in the heart of SoHo & the employees were incredibly hip & happening ;)
Last stop of the day was Vanilla Star, where we heard from Marissa Smith, another IU alum! Originally, Vanilla Star was focused on denim & now seems to be expanding their line into other apparel. We loved their boho tops - it reminded me us of Free People! You can find them at TJ Maxx, Kohls, Tilly's and more! Can't wait for the Fall collection so we can start shopping!
At night, a couple girls & us adventured to the East Village to check out Tokyo Joe, a designer consignment shop! Great clothes for cheap - what's not to love?!
Last appointment! We went to Ralph Lauren's flagship store on Madison Ave. Dan Campbell gave us a tour of the amazing venue - it used to be a private mansion! (Check out the pics) Each level was designated for a line of Ralph Lauren like Purple Label, Black Label and Polo Ralph Lauren. He described each line's aesthetic & target market. This was the perfect appointment to end our amazing trip!
This trip was AMAZING! A huge thank you to everyone apart of it, especially to our professors who made it all happen.
Until next time, New York.