Polo Ralph Lauren Senior Director Discusses Fashion Product Development

Melissa Schirripa, senior director of design of women’s woven division at Polo Ralph Lauren in New York, gave a presentation on campus Dec. 5 on the role of product development in the fashion industry.

Schirripa said that in the fashion industry, “Product development is responsible for taking the designers vision and making it a reality.” During the lecture in the Paul J. Gutman Library Media Classroom, Schirripa explained that product development serves as the intermediary between designers and the production division.

Her expertise in the industry spans a 16-year career and her most recent work at Polo Ralph Lauren included the famous uniforms wore by over 500 female U.S. Olympians during the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Schirripa’s lecture was last of the Fall 2008 Textile/Apparel Lecture series sponsored by the School of Engineering and Textiles to educate students on various textile- and apparel-industry topics.

The lecture gave students insight into the day-to-day operations of the product-development process at Polo Ralph Lauren, including concept boards, stats, production and, finally, what makes it to the showroom.

Citing personal internship experiences during college at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Schirripa advised PhilaU students interested in interning in the fashion industry to bring, “intelligence and personality; don’t be nervous and be yourself,” she said.

“Our goal with these lectures is to expose students and the community to the textile and apparel industry, challenges the industry face, innovations and future trends of the industry and what our students will be facing when they enter their professions,” said Peggy Goutmann, associate professor of Textiles.

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