Philadelphia University fashion students spent this semester in an innovative immersion course that provides hands-on experience in the New York fashion industry by meeting with top industry professionals, visiting fashion houses, collaborating on possible new product designs and attending New York Fashion Week.
As part of the course, the fashion design and fashion merchandising students worked on a project with C. Wonder, which was recently acquired by Xcel Brands—parent company of Isaac Mizrahi, Judith Ripka and H Halston. The students explored the C. Wonder brand by identifying seven essential products in a category, such as children’s wear, luggage and home, and then designed products, selected fabrics and trim, and instituted marketing strategies and merchandising concepts for a distribution channel.
“The immersion program offers a valuable learning experience for students in design and merchandising,” said Nioka Wyatt, fashion merchandising and management program director, who co-teaches the course. “As Xcel has experienced phenomenal growth over the past year, our faculty and students are also learning and growing with the company and designers that they manage in their portfolio.”
The 38 PhilaU students made their final presentations Dec. 9 to Robert D’Loren, Xcel Brands chairman and CEO, at the firm’s New York office. He discussed the evolution of design and shopping experiences and offered career advice to students. This is the third time Xcel Brands has partnered with PhilaU for the course. In previous semesters, students designed new product lines and presented them to designer Isaac Mizrahi and also worked with H Halston’s creative teams.
In addition to gaining valuable real-world experience, students benefited from the collaboration of fashion design and fashion merchandising and management, said Sheila Connelly, PhilaU fashion design program director, who also taught the course along with faculty members Catherine Casano and Pielah Kim.
Fashion design student Noel Watt ’19 said the group environment allowed her to both learn new skills, such as developing a target market, and also help others on her team with such tasks as creating a concept board. “It was eye-opening working in a group and seeing how easily you can fail if everyone isn’t on the same page,” she said.
The immersion course provides an “extra edge” for PhilaU students, added fashion design student Vanessa Fath ’19. “In working with Xcel Brands, I truly learned how to design within a brand’s aesthetic and analyze the multiple aspects of a company.”
Having the opportunity to attend New York Fashion Week was a course highlight for fashion merchandising student Rose Mauloni ’19. The students went to six fashion shows, one featuring the work of Irina Shabayeva, the season six “Project Runway” winner. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Mauloni said. “Not many college sophomores can say they attended Fashion Week. It got me excited for my future in the fashion industry.”
PhilaU’s highly regarded fashion programs are ranked among the top worldwide, according to the Global Fashion School Rankings 2016 by the Business of Fashion. PhilaU undergraduate fashion programs ranked 24th and graduate programs ranked 17th internationally. In addition, PhilaU’s scores in global influence, learning experience and long-term value—the ranking’s three major indicators of quality—improved over last year.
In addition, PhilaU has been twice named one of the top 50 fashion schools in the world by Fashionista and also by CEOWORLD, whose 2016 best fashion school rankings were based on academic reputation, employer reputation, quality of teaching and diversity, as well as learning experience, influence and value.
PhilaU fashion programs include undergraduate programs in fashion design, textile design, fashion merchandising and management and graduate programs in textile design, global fashion enterprise and starting in fall 2017, fashion design management.