Fashion Students Learn From Behind-The-Scenes Industry Visits

Philadelphia University fashion merchandising and management students this month had the opportunity to learn first-hand about different aspects of the fashion industry during trips to the New York and North Carolina offices of some of the biggest names in fashion.

A group of juniors gained insights into the role and responsibilities of retail buyers during a day-long job-shadow experience at Ross Stores Inc. on Nov. 6 in New York. Ross is largest national off-price apparel and home fashion chain.

The visit was particularly eventful for Allison Seibel who shadowed a women’s shoe buyer and the next day received a call from her Ross mentor offering her a summer internship.

“She was impressed with my knowledge on buying operations and my confidence in the marketplace,” Seibel said. All in all, she added, “It was a great experience.”

A fashion merchandising and management student gets a behind-the-scenes look at Vanity Fair.

Fashion merchandising and management student Emily McMenamin checks out denim products during a visit to Vanity Fair Corp. in Greensboro, N.C.

Student Christina Prinzo shadowed a buyer for juniors’ woven tops and sweaters. “I learned so much from her, including how to read certain reports, negotiate with vendors and how the whole buying process takes place,” Prinzo said. “Throughout the day, we met with different vendors, buying pieces for the winter line. We also created some of our own pieces by combining existing silhouettes, prints and fabrics into designs we felt would best fit the Ross customer.”

Another student, Abby Denora, who plans a career in buying or visual merchandising, called the trip a valuable opportunity. “I got to see a side of the fashion industry I had never been exposed to,” she said.

“This type of experiential learning allows students to evaluate potential opportunities and decide if this is the direction they’d like to pursue for their career,” said Samantha Camoni, PhilaU associate director of career services, adding that it also “allows students to prove themselves as a potential fit for the company through a day’s worth of interactions, rather than through an hour-long interview.”

Fashion merchandising and management students in Associate Professor Nioka Wyatt’s global fashion insight classes also recently gained real-world industry insights through tours of top fashion companies.

Sponsored by a nearly $30,000 Cotton Inc. grant, the students were able to explore the interdisciplinary nature of cotton in fashion and learn about the industry through a comprehensive overview of the fashion value chain.

From Oct. 15 to 17, 10 students traveled to Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., to visit Cotton Inc.’s world headquarters, fashion technology firm TC2, and Vanity Fair Corp., a leader producer of Wrangler jeans and many other iconic brands.

“Students viewed the latest technology in 3-D product management,” Wyatt said, and also learned about merchandising, quality assurance, finishing, testing and distribution skills.

On Nov. 7, 50 of Wyatt’s students spent the day in New York, getting a first-hand look at the process of designing and developing products on a global scale. The students visited Mood Fabrics, M&J Trimming and Material ConneXion, and then went in smaller groups to either Ralph Lauren, Maggy London, and New York & Company.

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