Gayoung Ahn
South KoreaFashion has been a big part of my life. Fabrics, scissors, and threads were the best friends from my childhood. So it is a very natural thing to follow fashion as a profession. In my eyes, fashion is for fun. It’s been my life and a source of unparalleled delight for me. My goal is designing clothes that make women want to do a little dance and make them look like they are living in beautiful days. Coco Chanel said, “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” This is a motto, which I strive to carry out as a designer. A dress is just a dress, but a person makes it come alive.

Talisa Almonte
Miami, FloridaFor as long as I can remember, I was consistently with a pencil or various drawing materials at hand. I spent hours with my father drawing all kinds of things, as I wanted nothing more but to become an amazing artist like him. However, growing up in a Hispanic household and hearing about the struggles of the women in my family trying to find stylish and proper clothing definitely fueled my passion for design and is what ultimately made me realize that I could create a brand that would cater to women of all shapes and sizes. I’d also like to believe that growing up with two very creative and supportive parents is what ultimately destined me to become the person that I am today: always growing and fighting for my dreams, not just for myself but for my family.

Tiffany Antoine
Wheatley Heights, NYFor as long as I can remember I loved the art of fashion. I loved to draw figures, their clothing, and style my Barbie dolls. I would find myself creating little outfits out of any fabric I could find. My friends and family eventually became my real-live dolls and I would dress them in fabric and sheets and make them walk down an imaginary runway. I loved watching couture shows and how they told amazing stories through clothing. It wasn’t until high school that I decided this is my life and I haven’t stopped since. I believe my drive and dedication is what makes me a unique designer. I’m not afraid of a challenge and I’m always willing to try something new. I am constantly growing as a designer and I am excited about what is to come.

Sabriye Aydin
Turkey/BulgariaI was born in Bulgaria and I graduated from a fine arts high school in Turkey. There is always something beautiful and new just waiting to be created. I can say that I have never got bored with my job. When I was 16 years old, I started learning how to knit and make embroidery by myself. I have always been very inspired by knitwear and my grandfather`s old sewing machine. How cool would it be to wear clothes that you made knowing that millions all over the world will wear them as well? That’s why I am at FIT.

Hazal Aydogdu
Istanbul, TurkeyI have always been an artist in some way—always different, free and unlimited. Thanks to my mother, art has been a big influence in my life. I enjoy almost every aspect of art. I started by dancing, painting and writing. Now as a designer, I believe that I found my way. In that way, fashion feeds my thoughts. My journey as a fashion designer began at Fashion Institute of Technology. Here in New York, my vision evolved and gained unique perspectives. For now this is the beginning of my story. I will keep writing my story through creating my art.

Claudia Baik
Vancouver, CanadaI started my journey to fashion design at FIT back in 2004. FIT initiated my journey to really find my passion. After earning my associate’s degree, I moved to Belgium and pursued a fashion design major at Royal Academy of Antwerp. Then I really questioned myself about being a fashion designer and decided to take a break. For five years I studied and experienced other things, which led me the conclusion that I needed to finish one chapter of my life for real. That’s when I decided to come back to FIT and finish my degree in fashion design. In 2014, I am finally close to the end of one chapter. Now I feel I can communicate truly with people through my designs.

Shruti Biswajit
Chennai, IndiaGrowing up, I have always been exposed to different aspects of fashion whether it was from visits to my family’s textile mill or from the vibrant yet odd creature that is Madras, India, the city where I grew up. Only in retrospect did I realize I have been making aesthetic choices from a very young age that have helped me evolve my own unique yet practical sense of style. My garments, borrowing from principles of ‘biomimicry,’ are a collage of style lines and detailed technical patterns that often mirror elements of nature whereby every excess is removed, leaving behind only that which is essential. Exploring fashion from this unique point of view has been the driving force behind my work so far, and its evolution in the future will continue to challenge and inspire me.

Kirby Budz
Chicago, IllinoisI took my first sewing class 15 years ago when I was 11 years old. I had never felt more content than I was when sat at that first sewing machine; I knew that working in fashion was what I was meant to do. I didn’t choose to continue to pursue it, I was born to pursue it and have been ever since that first class. Because I have been sewing for such a long time, the construction of clothing is extremely important to me. I focus on beautiful fabrication combined with excellent construction techniques. Strong silhouettes combined with couture details makes every garment unique and express the message I am portraying. My designs are a representation of who I am and through them I am able to have a loud voice through which everyone can hear me.

Jack Burns
Westerly, Rhode IslandI am very lucky to have grown up in such a beautiful part of America. I was always surrounded by nature, whether in the woods or out on the ocean. Kids in my hometown were always taught to appreciate this. We spent countless days surfing or sailing at the beach and in the colder months camping and snowboarding up north. A career in design was instinctive for me. I was constantly trying to recreate the beauty of my environment in any artistic outlet. The city always influences my work, but there is still a small bit of my hometown in everything I do.

Erica Cahn
Boulder, ColoradoFashion design is something that manifested itself organically into my life. I began designing through necessity. Growing up, I was always outdoors. I would rip clothes, lose things, and generally tear up most of my possessions. I began mending, altering, fixing, then making some of my own clothing and accessories. Then I began making things for other people. My lifestyle became a repetition of making apparel, and using it. I began to love making things for others and that expanded into making clothing for everyday use and occasions. I design for function first. I like to think about what my girl or boy is doing, where they are going, what challenges they may face along the way. I enjoy the fact that fashion is something so close to everyone. It affects the everyday life of the average person and it can be made in a way that enhances one’s life while wearing it. That is what inspires me to move forward, innovate, and learn more about design and its application.

Young-eun Chea
South KoreaIt is my life’s goal to establish my own fashion brand and work up a strong reputation. It is obvious that one needs to see, experience, and learn many things in the broader world to excel in fashion design. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to attend high school in China with its massive population and unique style in their fashion industry. The four years I spent in China were invaluable to me as a person and as a future designer. I also spent five months in Paris, the center of fashion, learning French at La Sorbonne and I found so much inspiration from their culture. Through many years of studying abroad in Beijing, New York, and Paris from a young age, I learned how to communicate with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I am a very positive and energetic person. Many children leave their dreams behind them, however, mine have stayed their course. Now is the time for me to take the next step in my own growth and put myself in the center of it all.

Sarah Conlon
Queens, New YorkI design because I am constantly intrigued by the functional and aesthetic possibilities of fashion. Wearing a school uniform for most of my life has made me aware of both the practical/utilitarian purpose of clothing and its importance as a mode of personal expression. This juxtaposition has shaped and informed my design process throughout the years. My philosophy suggests the reinvention and elevation of basics of unique and unexpected fabrications. Contemporary sophistication, clean lines, and modern shapes are combined to create looks that are innovative and versatile. Themes of minimalism and futurism have informed my most recent works, fueled by a fascination with abstraction in sculptural, digital, and sonic forms. The rapidly changing pace of technology in our society makes fashion both a challenging and rewarding field.

Dilan Damgacioglu
Istanbul, TurkeyI was drawing female figures since I was a six-year-old kid. Creating different characteristics by dressing my imaginary women in a way that I want was my biggest passion and joy as a child and it still is. The only difference is now I imagine real women who go to work, go out with their friends, and have professional lifestyles. As time went by, I had to face my father about studying fashion design because he was opposed. I won the battle for sure. Now this is my last semester in my dual degree program with ITU and FIT. Coming to New York was a turning point for me. It expanded my vision so much and helped me improve as a designer. I can’t wait to see what will come next in my journey.

Neysha De León
Guaynabo, Puerto RicoI was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Since I was a little girl, I was always making jewelry, refitting my clothing, drawing, and painting. By the time I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted a career in a creative field, so I applied for Fashion Design in Puerto Rico. I took advantage of my days off and had an apprenticeship and several classes with one of the best costume designers on the island. Alongside her and her daughter, fashion designer Namibia Viera, I had the opportunity to visit NYC and FIT for the first time and realized I needed to be part of this city. I design for a confident woman or man that plays a unique look with layers, textures, and dimensions. I’m very inspired by menswear fashion, and the androgynous approach found a lot in women’s wear today.

Paola Alejandra De Marco
Bayside, New YorkTiming is everything. In the fall of 2007, FIT rejected my application. I couldn’t believe it. I had been designing since I was in elementary school (by designing, I mean that I filled countless notebooks with little figures, of “models” in pretty dresses, that I thought were “fashion forward”). In high school, I took Saturday Live classes, where I discovered that my “models” were actually disproportioned tweens. When it came time to apply to FIT, I forgot to include the essay portion of my application, and due to its incompletion, it was rejected. I was devastated. People say everything happens for a reason, but you don’t really find out what that reason is until much later. Had FIT accepted me in 2007, I wouldn’t have gone to Parsons for two years, taken a year and a half off to work in luxury sales in order to pay for Parsons, discovered that I love working with people from different countries, done three fashion design internships, or had time to visit South America and fall in love with its textile industry. I applied to FIT again in 2011, and I came in more focused, knowing exactly what I wanted. I want to design for a company that uses fair-trade and eco-friendly international suppliers. I design as vibrantly as the cultures that inspire me. Because FIT rejected me, I now know that I am exactly where I want to be, at exactly the right time.

Jessica DeVries
Ledgewood, NJI am a young designer, but no matter how much I age, I feel I will always remain a young designer. I celebrate and interpret the spirit of youth in my designs while still remaining posh and pulled together. I draw inspiration from history, subculture, architecture, and the adventures I’ve faced inside my own head. I have learned to recognize my own aesthetic and translate it into everything I do. As a designer, I interpret the way I feel in print, color, shape, and texture. Fashion is how I understand and explain them. Through design, I tell my own story and explore my own wonderland.

Katherine Dittmeier
Babylon, New YorkI wanted to become a designer in probably the most random way. I had watched a commercial for GAP jeans where Audrey Hepburn was wearing tight cigarette pants and a classic black crop top turtleneck. She was dancing in this short, 30-second commercial. There was a charismatic charm about her that made me fall in love with clothing. She had no fear in that moment. I said to myself I want to be able give women that same confidence that Audrey had dancing on the screen. I like to design clothes that can stand out in a crowd. I like to create clothing that has a story and meaning behind each stitch. I love how clothing can totally transform any woman into any character of their choice. I want to be able to design and create clothing that transforms a woman. One thing that makes me unique is that that I am not afraid to mess up. I have learned that from making mistakes I will learn and grow as a designer.

Peter Do
VietnamFashion started out as a hobby then turned into an obsession. It is merely another medium at this moment for me to express my inner thoughts. I find myself obsessing with finding new ways to construct/deconstruct clothes in my journey. I like the idea of blurring the line between 2D and 3D, reality and illusion, hands versus machines, and traditional versus technology. I’m also interested in the idea of fusing fine arts with fashion. But at the end of the day, I’m not here to reinvent the wheels; I just want to make them in my own way.

Emily Meera Downs
New Hope, PennsylvaniaEver since I was a little girl I have been interested in textiles and colors, and have had an eye for fashion. I was always certain and particular about the way I wanted to dress and how to put together my outfits and that has continued throughout my life. I have always had a good aesthetic visually and have had somewhat of a sense of design. Throughout my years at the Fashion Institute of Technology I have focused my skills and become more design driven. I enjoy designing sportswear with a cultural mindset. I have always had a love for exploring other cultures. Throughout my life I have tied this aspect of design into my projects, philosophy, and aesthetic.

Franklyn Duran
Dominican Republic/Copiague, New YorkMy mother is an architect, so from early on I was surrounded by art meeting form and functionality. When the time came to choose my career path fashion was the obvious choice and to me the ultimate form of functional art. Fashion combines my passion for artistic creation, logic and engineering, and a deep understanding of humanity. Being raised in a family of academics, from early on I had a love for education, I love researching and learning about anything and everything and feeding my brain new information. When I design, I incorporate math, science logic, and global current evens I find relevant to society. I like to create collections that have meaning and tell a story and are more than pretty clothes. Through design, I like to express a message to the world that embodies who I am. In a world of fast fashion and knockoffs, I believe design of the future has to stand for something. Clothing is how we adorn ourselves and consciously decide how we want the world to see us; it is imperative that it has meaning, depth and individuality. Long gone are the days of mindless conceptual design and forth come the new era of intellectual modern design.

Haya Elkadi
Rutherford, New JerseyWhile many of my colleagues were designing and drawing dresses as children, that was not the case with me. I realized that I was very interested in design around my freshman year of high school when I first started buying fashion magazines and actually taking a general interest in the fashion I saw in the magazines. I found myself always modifying the looks I saw in the magazines and it bought me a lot of joy. What I love the most about design is the idea of experimentation and research. I love the idea of developing a concept and a point of view. To me, it is the design process that I find the most rewarding and exciting.

Brit Frady-Williams
Chattanooga, TennesseeI run Berít New York, an independent design startup based in Brooklyn. I have shown two seasons at London Fashion Week, and have been featured in the New York Times, Time Out New York, Marie Claire Italia, and Bust Magazine. I have appeared in NHK documentaries on subculture fashion, and my designs were selected for the Steampunk Bible and Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism. I specialize in a retro-futuristic style that incorporates complex designs, rich fabrics, capturing the elegance of the old world for wear in the modern day.

Olivia Franceschini
Atlanta, GeorgiaI am a native of Georgia, daughter of Pittsburgh, and devotee of New York. I took an interest in design from a young, hiking-boot clad age. I am inspired to design with an entrepreneurial bent and strive to integrate design discipline with aesthetics. I take an interest in all phases of design and development. My collections are born from nonpareil concept research, and are often inspired by my coolheaded customer. For the most part, the elevated basics that I dreamt up three years ago are still a part of my work now—this helps to keep me grounded and ensures my designs are harmoniously developed. I have worked under three female designers, entrepreneurs, and extraordinary human beings, and look forward to furthering my experience, learning as much as possible and being part of a stellar team upon graduating.

Fabiana Ham
BrazilMy mother studied fashion design in Korea and moved to Brazil a few years after graduating. She barely spoke Portuguese. She opened a small boutique and that’s where I would spend my afternoons. I would help her embroider and knit. I was born in Brazil to Korean parents and studied at an international school. Many of my designs stem from social-cultural changes. I am influenced by my frequent museum and gallery outings, trips, and movies. What I love about fashion is that it is a universal language, transcending culture, religion, etc. It is ever-changing and through this constant learning process, I hope to keep pushing myself to improve as a designer.

Rebecca Homen
Westport, MassachusettsWhether it’s the organic cropped grown fields, aged factories, or family-owned antique shops, my childhood town of Westport, MA, has rooted my passion for handcrafted design. My love of fashion came from my discovery of “old things,” and a deep curiosity about their construction. I admire the detail-oriented clothing made during the 1920s and 1930s, and my goal as a designer is to keep those traditions while creating high-quality, functional design. My creative pull also comes from my personal attachment to sustainability and the ideology that there is always a way to create beautiful things with a conscious mind. Whether it’s by researching new textiles or learning about global tribes and fair trade, I always find a way to incorporate modern design with genuine craftsmanship. My concepts tell a story, my visions denote truth and my designs stand for what Earth is bound by—natural beauty.

Ethan Ianniello
Brooklyn, New YorkMy grandparents were tailors and seamstresses and it exposed me at an early age to the craft of sewing and placed fashion design on a pedestal. Fashion was always part of my life and it made sense that I would continue in that tradition. The reason I design is because it allows me to experiment and have the freedom to control my own vision. For me, the greatest joy in designing fashion is the ability to tell a story with my clothes. What makes me unique as a designer is partly my ability to connect and communicate with others and my personal philosophy toward design that clothes should be clever and luxurious.

Emre Inanc
TurkeyIn my journey to highlight that fashion was a reflection of my personality, my minimalist design touched with small details. My education at FIT and my work experience enriched me even in the beginning of my career. I was raised in a different culture and had a chance to mix my knowledge and background. My design is more powerful now with the strong image of New York women. I realized that I am very good at reflecting all the small details that I like in my design and I knew that being a designer is the best thing that I can do. Now I can see every detail in my design with an eye for improvement and knowledge day by day. To dress a woman with the eyes of a man is the best.

Melissa Innamorato
Morris Plains, New JerseyI got into fashion design because design is the one thing that I have consistently cared about during my life. Early on, I started hand-sewing and soon after my grandmother taught me how to use a sewing machine. She also taught me about patterns and constructing clothes. In school, I found myself drawing illustrations of clothes I wanted to create. I decided to take high school classes at FIT to expand my knowledge on design. My senior year, I applied to FIT and started the following fall. I wanted to become a designer because I believe good design can make a person feel better about his or herself and I wanted to be a part of that. I am unique as a person and a designer because I’m open-minded about everything. I am never afraid to try new things or approaches because I found that I grow from those experiences.

Melis Iskender
Istanbul,TurkeyI was born in Istanbul ,Turkey. My parents have been working in the textile business since I was three years old. My fashion journey began with my passion for textures of every kind of fabric. Since I was a kid, I was not good at showing my feelings to others. Drawing something then collaborating fabrics to stick on canvases is the way I show my emotions. Before beginning high school, I had already decided to be a fashion designer and that was a very appropriate decision. After high school, I really worked hard to enter the FIT-ITU dual diploma program and I was accepted in 2008. I really like to use different materials that have not been used before as fabric, mostly inspired by ethnic cultures and architecture.

Nell Johnson
New York CityI am a New York City native driven to unite elegance and utility. I design because I can’t help it— I’ve never been able to sit still for long without making something. Through this I have learned to love design. Despite the restlessness that fuels my work, my designs are united by a clean, modern elegance with a particular focus on functionality. I believe that the main point of clothing is to serve a purpose, to actually work, without sacrificing aesthetics. My work is a mix of fifties, mod and punk styles with a bit of humor and color.

Min Kyung Jung
South KoreaI am originally from South Korea and came to America in order to receive a new perspective on the world of fashion design. My love for designing came from watching my mom. She worked as a tailor for most of her life and I was fascinated by her magic. I was intrigued by how she can make ideas come to life. My pursuit in becoming a fashion designer wasn’t just something I chose overnight. My love for designing and making clothes is in my blood; it’s what gives me the energy to wake up in the morning. My aesthetic for design is combining simple silhouettes with intricate details giving everything I do a very personal feel. I love bringing together elements that may seem contradictory, but create synergy when combined.

Cheng-Chia Kao
Taichung, TaiwanI was always immersed in art, design, music and cultures, dreaming of becoming a creator. However, my path was bumpy until I realized I was thinking about creating clothes all the time when I was sitting in law classes in college. Then I asked myself, “Why don’t I just give it a shot?” And the rest is history. With love and support from my family and friends, in 2010 I moved to New York, where I find the air and life is just exhilarating. I began cultivating myself as a fashion designer. At that moment, destiny and fashion crossed in the Big Apple. I knew this was the best decision I’d ever made. Through my eyes, I continue to create beautiful clothes with personality, passion, sophistication, and fun. Let’s roll!

Ciel N. Kim
Seoul, Korea/Los Angeles, CaliforniaBelieve it or not, I enjoyed dressing up in classy outfits even as a toddler—a courtesy of my artist mother. She would later admit that shopping sprees with me were quite a feat because of my ever-so-particular taste. During my formative years as a student at FIT and as an intern in the women’s wear department of a reputable contemporary brand, my once naïve ideas of beauty and passion for design grew into a tangible reality. Influenced by an engineer father and an artist mother, I am always looking for unconventional ways to express my aesthetic. I strive to become a designer who can refine others’ ideas of beauty.

Hannah Kim
Dallas, TexasCreativity and an artistic interest have always been a part of me. I had always been heavily involved with art and creating, but it wasn’t until my last year of high school that I realized fashion design was an option. With little to no hesitation, I threw myself into fashion design and quickly became obsessed. I had found an outlet that fulfilled my creative expression, but also had the purpose I needed to make this a lifelong career. When designing, I find that I’m always, consciously or subconsciously, blending opposites. A dichotomy irony is very much a part of my aesthetic. I like the juxtaposition of finely tailored suits and utility outerwear, couture and street wear, and the endless play between masculine and feminine. Finding new and different ways to make a contradiction work always adds freshness to my collections. Music is also a huge influence for me. I have certain songs or an album that inspire me and set the attitude or tone for each of my collections.

Michaela Klym
Richmond, VirginiaI have always loved to create, and clothing provides a very tangible, direct creative outlet. Designing allows me to contemplate and experiment. I believe that clothing is our most immediate habitat and should be a reflection of personal ethos and style. I aim for simplicity and functionality in an ever more cluttered and wasteful society. I hope for a return to domestic and artisanal production methods.

Heather Kopenski
Old Tappan, New JerseyFor as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer. I feel the best way to explain my attraction to fashion is the fact that I am a very visual and design-oriented individual. In all aspects of my life, I seek to express myself through design and creativity. Fashion is a constant, ever-changing medium through which I can express my creativity and present myself to the world in the way that I want to be perceived. I believe what makes me unique as an individual and as a designer is my open-mindedness and curiosity. I find inspiration in all things and am constantly seeking the unknown. I love to travel and I feel that this passion of mine inadvertently affects my passion for design as well. I am inspired by my experiences and I have an insatiable need to find new ones.

Ryne Larson
Madison, WisconsinEver since I can remember, I’ve been designing and dressing everything. From my Barbie at the age of four, to my friends in high school, I’ve always been styling and putting people in my designs. I’ve always been very creative and interested in clothing. For me, it’s so inspiring because it can transform a person. Fashion is a fantasy that can take you anywhere; you can be anything. It’s a strong form of self-expression, from the designer to the wearer. For me, as well as my customer, my design style truly takes one to a dream-like aesthetic, while keeping it wearable and practical for the everyday world. I can’t imagine doing anything else; I have a true passion for this art.

Grace Lee
Chicago, IllinoisGrowing up, I always knew I wanted to pursue fashion design as my career path. I always loved being able to express myself through the clothes I wore and putting my energy into something that would distinguish me from the crowd. It always amazed me how much the industry is changing and growing; there is constantly something new to learn and experience. It inspires me to be creative and innovative. I love the idea of being able to create functional art, and having such a diverse range of people wear my clothes in different ways. To me, being a part of this industry is not just a career choice anymore. It is an industry with many subcultures and opportunities, and essentially a lifestyle that I will never stop breathing, living, and loving.

Hyunji Lee
South KoreaFirst of all, I always loved to draw. When I was four years old, I started to draw girls with the clothes I designed. So fashion illustration was my major hobby in my childhood. Then gradually and automatically, I had a dream about becoming a fashion designer. Another reason was my mother. She also learned fashion design at college so she used to make a lot of clothes for my sister and I. By watching her I think I just naturally wanted to become a designer. I am pretty sure that the unique part of my design is easy to wear and simple, however, also trendy and chic. As my design philosophy, I want to be a designer who makes clothes that everyone can easily enjoy and feel happy about in their daily lives.

Ada Lin
Brooklyn, New YorkDuring a small forum, attendees were asked, “What is fashion?” When it was my turn to respond I said, “Fashion is functional…” I never had time to say or even formulate in my mind that fashion isn’t only functional, it is cultural, it is economical, and it is the true indicator of how the world is changing. If not for those characteristics of fashion, we could very well be wearing leaves as Adam and Eve are often depicted in classical paintings. But despite my lofty idea of fashion, I have to humbly admit that I design not because I believe I can do anything better than anyone, but because in this visually saturated world, the way something function is sometimes lost and I hope to help remind us all that at the end of the day fashion is simply…functional.

Stephanie Marchese
New JerseyThe fashion industry has been a huge part of my life since I was very young. My father has been a production manager since he was in his twenties, so I have been around fashion my whole life. When I visited him at work when I was very young, he would find me talking to the designers and trying to make garments with the leftover fabrics. Those experiences throughout my childhood inspired me and led me to pursue a career in as a designer. Throughout my time at FIT, I developed my strong aesthetic for minimalistic, comfortable clothes that the typical New Yorker could wear in their everyday lives.

Carol Vilhana Milanes
New York City/Orlando, FloridaI am uniquely positive and love to laugh. I can never take anything too seriously, but I work hard. For a very long time, I didn’t know what to do with my life. But when I found the world of fashion, everything changed. I design because I enjoy letting my creativity flow. It allows me to express myself, and others to express themselves through my designs. What can be better? I actually feel I am very diverse, which sets me apart from many designers. I am a traveler, saturated with a love for cultures. I’m a situational dresser and quite eclectic—meaning I can blend into any situation—and I feel I incorporate that into my design. I can make something different for each occasion, style, time, or person and I am not afraid to push myself out of my own comfort zone.

Richard Nghia Ngo
Bien Hoa, VietnamI started fashion design by making clothes for Barbie when I was eight, beginning with hand-sewing many little appliques and pieces of white satin to make a gown on miniature scale. I had a big turnaround after high school, where I started my career as a pilot. However, my family encouraged me to make a change in career, which is why I am at FIT now. My fashion journey before FIT was immature in skills and knowledge. I had a little business where I sold my doll clothes online. My main concentration was formal eveningwear. As time went by, I began to design clothes for myself and it was a way for me to implement and practice what I had learned. Over time, I became obsessed with making sportswear outerwear and it landed me many great internship opportunities. Looking back from four years ago, I have grown and matured along with my aesthetics and perspectives of the fashion industry, my skills and knowledge I acquired at FIT are unexpected but FIT taught me to accept challenges unconditionally and that makes me who I am today as a designer.

Kate Odom
Lanoka Harbor, New JerseyAs we dance through this waking existence, we leave roaring echoes in our wake. A story should be told in every glance, every whisper, every motion. Fashion is literature that we write each day. I design to tell a story. My story is a dream, where everything is colorful, and hardly anything makes sense. Life shouldn’t be taken too seriously, fashion included. I use my love of color and prints to create clothing in a spirited, witty, and dream-like aesthetic. Iwill continue as an artist and designer to always have fun as I share this imagery with you.

Sarah Park

I design because I love to create. Creating is a way of my freedom—to have complete control in what I design. It allows my mind to be in a childlike state, where he or she is in a playground and is so ecstatic to just let go and indulge in living. For the best that can happen to the worst that can happen, I only want to do this. And it is to create clothing for women. In the future I will always be a designer that can create with no limitations and just explore the human mind, and knowing that every woman is free and she can be her own person. I have always wanted to be a designer. I never searched for it. It’s as if it was always in me somewhere.

Aslihan Parmaksizoglu
Istanbul, TurkeyI was born in Istanbul, Turkey. I have been drawing models and making sketches since my childhood. Since I was so interested in art and fashion, I studied at an Italian high school in Turkey, which improved my vision. When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a part of the fashion business as a designer. I decided to apply to Istanbul Technical University and Fashion Institute of Technology Dual Degree Program. This collaboration was big chance for me because I studied in two different cities and schools that improved my skills, techniques and creativity. In my designs, I am inspired by these cities, their cultures and lifestyles. I try to bring a European sensibility coupled by a true respect for American design.

Christopher Pioroda
East Meadow, New YorkGrowing up in a small town in Long Island, I felt as if I was restricted from the person I wanted to be. Surrounded by dullness, I found the smallest things to be beautiful and fascinating. Years before coming to FIT, I was desperate for a way out. I searched for ways to escape from the monotonous society I was from by traveling and expressing myself through different forms of art, such as photography and drawing. I came to the realization fashion was another form of art that was right under my nose all along. It is truly where I found my own voice. Fashion consists of so much beauty and influential components that it fascinates me in how affective it is for so many different people of various shapes and sizes. This explains how I was led to my devotion to become a fashion designer. As a designer, my objective is to create clothing that influences people to move away from the past, or all things traditional and move toward a future of modernity and innovation.

Jason Chi Poon
Ellicott City, MarylandMy name is Jason Poon. I am a Chinese-American born and, for the most part, raised in Maryland. What was my reason for taking this arduous journey to be a fashion designer? As a child, I liked making things. I liked working with my hands. I also liked to dress up like a superhero or whatever badass that happens to be in movies or television or even a comic book. At first, I studied video game character concept. That didn’t sit right with me. Then I studied costume and theater, which was close but no cigar. Then a little soul searching landed me in fashion, a medium where I can bring and share my childhood fantasy. To be continued.

Cassandra Porter
Clifton, New JerseyNot everyone can say they won best dressed in middle school. Clearly, this is a huge feat in itself. The second I left my uniforms behind and transferred to public school, I hit the ground running and purchased the most avant-garde pieces, not that I even knew what that meant. My all-time favorite was an orange plaid blazer that made me feel like Cher in Clueless. I finally retired that orange blazer but never my dream to become a fashion designer. Since then I have evolved into an eclectic designer, taking my interest for bold prints and colors and using them in sleek and sophisticated designs. I aim to accentuate a women’s figure through feminine and flirty silhouettes. Ultimately, I want to create clothing that embodies women’s quirky personalities and makes them beam with confidence.

Dana Richheimer
Merrick, New YorkWhen I was a child, I was very shy and had a lot of difficulty expressing myself. But when my third grade teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, I didn’t have much thinking to do. I had been cutting up clothes, changing, and reinventing my looks since I can remember. Fashion design gave me a voice, the ability to communicate and express myself without saying a word. It was only natural for me to pursue fashion design and to create clothing that allows other women to make a statement without putting a pen to paper. Though my shy demeanor has since faded over the years, I still largely express myself through my stylistic choices. Each piece I design is a statement inspired by my ideas and observations of the world we live in, and I have a lot more to say.

Lindsay Reed
Freehold, New JerseyThey say character traits skip a generation, and this is exactly the case in my design story. I grew up around a grandmother who sewed. She was my strongest influence and my inspiration to go into the fascinating, fast-paced industry known as fashion design. Sewing became a fun hobby and creating something from nothing was the most rewarding experience. When I realized fashion could become a full-time career I quickly dropped everything and focused on putting together a portfolio that could get me into FIT. Four years later, it was the best decision I have ever made and I am excited to see where this industry will take me.

Elisa Rodriguez
Mayagüez, Puerto RicoI have many interests, ideas, and thoughts and it is through fashion that I am able to communicate these—by materializing them into clothes. Fashion is the perfect language through which with one glance I can say where I’m from, who I am, and where I’m going. My expression is influenced mainly from an image base. I am happiest when developing the creative direction and creating the ambiance, mood, and setting for my final work, with images that complement my vision. When designing, I like to mix opposites together: old with the new, high-tech with raw, nature with urban living, simplicity with complexity, plus some menswear inspiration to create my final product.

Sylvia Rodriguez
Bogota, ColombiaSeven years in New York have given me much of a global perspective. I am a quick and detail-oriented learner, and I thrive in the realm of making concepts tangible; therefore I’ve interacted with several fashion merchandisers and manufacturers and understand production very well. What motivates me to be a designer is change. I have found several inconsistencies in the archetype of product development. Fortunately, through activism and research I’ve found inspirational designers who have taken the initiative towards new models of manufacturing. I am constantly inspired by them and very optimistic that I am capable of making such initiatives my own to deliver aesthetic and financial contributions to the world of fashion, while participating in the development of a sustainable civilization and I am thrilled to be part of this type of change.

Marina Ross
Grandview, New YorkHonestly, I can’t freakin’ get away from fashion! It’s something I’ve had an undeniable eagerness for for as long as I can remember. My mother’s an FIT alum, so fashion has been in my life practically since the womb. But digging deeper into the realities of it, I’ve been left unsettled and disturbed by certain ugly aspects of the industry. I have explored many other creative outlets, but even in those times of attempted separation, I still found myself “indulging” in fashion. So I decided to start being part of the solution to certain faults of the industry rather than flee the problems all together. In a way, I have found my way to have my cake and eat it too, and I feel pretty damn good about it.

Sangah Ryoo
Daegu, South KoreaWhenever I say I major in fashion design, people almost always ask me what made me do it. And I always tell them a little story. A few years ago, my mother asked me to make some hair bands. She was suffering with hair loss, so she wanted to cover her head with wide hair bands. While I was making some hair bands with bandanas for her, I realized something. Every time I made something with my sewing machine, I was pleased with my achievement and felt happy to see my mother smile. I felt like I was able to make people happy like my mother. So I decided to study fashion to understand what people love and make them happy.

Alexandra Scotto
Staten Island, New YorkA native of New York City, I combine uptown femininity with a touch of downtown edge. Easy-to-wear pieces infused with luxurious textiles and extreme attention to detail help to seamlessly fuse these two together. I am enamored with color and texture and fabric plays a key role in bringing my designs to life. My supportive family always encouraged me to expect nothing less than my best. They shaped me into the designer I am today. I have always been captivated by my aunt’s alluring stories and developed my affinity for design from an early age. I look forward to pursuing future endeavors that combine my passion and creativity.

Alexandra Slade
Colorado Springs, ColoradoFashion has always been my idea of defining a person before meeting them—not in a bad way, but to first easily “get to know somebody” by how they appear. I accept that every person has their personal way of creating their style. I respect that. As a designer, I wish to dress my customer in a way that is personal to me and what I believe is wearable. My wish is to have my collection worn by somebody who can mirror his or her own style with mine. If it’s with accessories, hairstyle, anything, anybody should be able to personalize themselves with clothing. My style is classic, but contemporary. As a young designer new to the industry, I believe one must learn fresh techniques of construction while creating a garment that looks effortless and wearable.

Ella (Youngeun) Son
The Republic of KoreaTo have people find meaning and self-confidence through fashion is my pursuit as a designer. I want to bring fashion as something much more than mere appearance or consumption. This is my ever-going motivation: to focus on innovative yet approachable designs that reflect the character of self-empowered women. My journey so far as a designer has been one of persuasion. As a very young kid, I convinced myself and people around me that I would become a designer. Ever since, creating fashion that wins over people’s hearts has been my constant project. I’m most grateful to say that the biggest and the most assuring persuasion landed on me like a gift. As I learn and go deeper into the fashion industry, I become more and more sure that this is where my passion lies. It keeps me fueled and inspired.

(Jessica) Hyunkyung Son
Seoul, KoreaFashion has been my fantasy, and an outlet to express my appreciation of beauty and creativity. I define the world as a place full of emotion and irony, and I express this world with mixing up the elements and finding my own balance. I am inspired by music, art, youth culture, and anything that I see, feel, and hear. I design clothes that are feminine, delicate yet strong, and celebrate women’s bodies without overstressing it. Through my collection, I want to express the abstraction of emotion by emphasizing nuances of color with juxtaposition of textiles and shapes.

Lydia Sukato
Los Angeles, CaliforniaWhen I was young, I always wanted to do something with art and design. Even though I love to design, I wasn’t sure if fashion design was right for me. Loving clothes does not make me a designer or a fashionista, but it did pique my interest in fashion. Now that I have experience in fashion, my world has been completely immersed in its world. I grew to love my major and aim to be a successful in the future. Reasons always change on why I design every time. I try to avoid giving a reason since I never stick to one. But I do know that I enjoy every moment of it.

Georgina Tartell
New York, New YorkGrowing up, there was always a sewing machine in my grandmother’s apartment. We would go to department stores and look at the clothes on the mannequins and she would ask for my input. When we got home she would start her magic. I never saw her use a pattern and she would make me the most beautiful couture outfits. I got my sense of style and learned about fashion from her. When she died, I realized that she never taught me how to sew. Soon after that, I switched careers from accounting and matriculated as a full-time student at FIT. I design for a woman’s body to bring out her best features. I have an eye for fashion and do not follow trends. I follow the beat of my own drum. I love the little details that give my clothes the wow factor and the element of surprise.

Samantha Tarter
Los Angeles, CaliforniaAs a young, strong woman about to enter the fashion industry I want to merge aesthetics and create new genres of fashion. I would like to describe myself as a monochromatic designer with a focus in classic silhouettes adding sport-like details to make the look more modern and bold. Deciding to study in the field of design was an easy decision and it was definitely the right one. Being inspired by companies and designers like Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang, I would like to create my own customer with a “model off the runway” look.

Olivia Tschider
Seattle, WashingtonGrowing up, I always loved designing—even when I was too young to understand that it was a real industry and not just something for my dolls. I did costume design in high school, but knew that I was more interested in dressing real women in unexpected choices for every day. I see fashion design as a craft, and strive to incorporate hand-sewn and personal touches into my pieces whenever possible, through fabric printing, embroidery, or other whimsical details. My style is feminine and quirky, yet always retains a clean and modern edge. I’m most inspired by strong and tenacious women—in art, myth, history, pop culture, and my own family.

Tugce Turkay
Istanbul, TurkeyI was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. My parents were the first to recognize my ability to observe details and reflect it to the paper. Even as a kid, I knew I had to use my drawing skills, and I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. I have a passion for creating and an obsession with aesthetics. Fabrics, patterns and nature inspire me the most, and I feel drawn to anything unique and new. Every human being is a designer by nature, so it’s important for everyone to express their unique selves. This is why I chose to become a fashion designer. I can’t wait to pursue my dreams in this beautiful city.

Asli Su Turkmen
Istanbul, TurkeyI was born with the passion for imagination and creation. There is not a specific time that I “decided” to be a fashion designer—the whole story came as a natural and instinctive flow. Influencing and drawing has always been my second way of breathing since my childhood. Chasing this impulse, I applied and was accepted to Istanbul High School of Fine Arts in 2004 where my artistic background was boosted. I participated in countless art exhibitions and won many prizes in my school life. As I became an adult, I realized that I want my art to live, to breathe, to go out on the streets, collect memories and inspire others. That’s why I felt like shifting my focus into fashion. I realize every day that I couldn’t be happier with my job and I thank universe for this unique feeling, my passion and my talent.

Fulya Turkmenoglu
TurkeyI am a senior student at FIT and my other college is Istanbul Technical University. I preferred to study fashion design because it is my way of expressing myself. In my opinion, to design clothes is not only producing a fashionable garment but also creating a point of view. That’s why I believe in timeless designs. This means if you are a fashion designer and you want to be unique, you need to do something different and timeless. This way, you can be unforgettable. Although the fashion market and trends change quickly, all of us have some special and unique pieces in our wardrobe that we won’t throw away and we can use forever. So I want to design these timeless pieces for the future.

Andrea Tuton
Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaFashion design is my first language. It is my sun. It is my home. And it is my love. It has been endlessly calling my name for as long as I can remember. Not a day in my life has it strayed from my heart. My work allows me to breathe. It says everything I cannot. It brings me to life and it breaks my heart. As part of this peculiar world of fashion, I have learned more about the depths of society and the human race than I had ever anticipated. Somewhere along the way, I began to question the world around me and have since been digesting the answers like a bitter pill. Now I no longer live in the fashion world; I am merely using the facilities. And I am observing the spectacle from my window with brand new eyes.

Kristine Verzosa
Yonkers, New YorkEver since I was young, I knew I wanted to do something in design because I would draw constantly. Most of my drawings were of people, and I loved creating the clothing they would wear. In school, art was always my favorite subject because I would create something that came out of my head and made with my own two hands. While I was growing up and developing my own personal style, I always loved fashion and I knew wanted to be a part of the fashion world. As an artist I chose fashion because clothing is a part of your personality and style, and I wanted to create garments that reflected mine. My vision as a designer is to create unique garments through playing around with different textured fabrics and prints. I even create some of my own and strategically placing them on my designs.

Cameta Warner
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin IslandsA true island girl at heart, I was born in St. Kitts, West Indies, and raised in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. I’ve always had a great interest in fashion design from a young age. Since the high schools in the Caribbean are general education high schools, I mostly took up art and sewing classes as electives instead of regular home economics or physical education. After high school, I put my plans to come to New York on hold in order to study business. I attended the University of the Virgin Islands and received an associate’s degree in business management. Finally I was ready to come to New York and pursue my career in fashion design. I attended the Katherine Gibbs School and earned an associate’s in Fashion Design and Merchandising. Then I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology where I received my BFA and a fresh, new passion and understanding of the fashion industry. My goals and aspirations are to become a big designer from the West Indies since there aren’t any well-known designers coming from the Caribbean. I want to prove to the world that we are more than just a popular vacation destination for our turquoise blue beaches. I want to prove that the Caribbean can produce good quality designers as well as any other country, and can be known as a place for fashion design. With my aesthetic of form-fitting, feminine designs and a play on colors, textures, prints, and seaming, I’m ready to take the fashion world by storm!

Maurice Wiggins
Laurelton, New YorkI’m a New York native. I’m inspired by architecture and abstract artwork. Layering is also a strong characteristic of my design aesthetic. I love using neutral colors and textured fabrics together. I design because I want to share my ideas with the world; combining art and music into wearable form. I look forward to a colorful career in the fashion design industry.

Nil Yelkovan
TurkeyMy interest in fashion and art started at a very young age, like most of the people in this business. No matter what type of art, my instinct for creating and producing pushed me to design and express myself with variety of ways. I was selected by one of the best state conservatories in Turkey for classical ballet, which I continued part-time. I was selected again for another state conservatory for piano, which I continued part-time too along with primary, junior high, and high schools. I always had a special interest in fashion. When the time had come to make a decision between my art interests, I chose fashion because it is also a serious business field. Now I am in a dual degree program at Istanbul Technical University and Fashion Institute of Technology.

Ahreum Yoou
Ansan, KoreaI have been an international student since I was 15 years old in Canada and different states in the United States. At first, I wanted to do something related to design, not specifically fashion design. But as I went through my high school years, I found my big interest and passion in fashion and decided to apply to FIT. After I finished my first year at FIT, I went through all my work and found that all my designs had an evening feeling. Also during my OPT period, at the age of 22, I got a job at a wedding salon. Working with wedding dresses made me happy and helped me to love white. I decided to be a wedding dress designer.

Joonsik Yu
Seoul, South KoreaI was born in Seoul, South Korea and lived 24 years of my life there. To be honest, during my high school period, I was neither a passionate nor a hard-working student. I did not have a definite path I wanted to take for my future. However, when I discovered my enthusiasm for fashion, I decided to attend INHA Technical College in Korea for fashion and was able to finish school successfully. Afterwards, I wanted to broaden my outlook and knowledge in fashion even more through studying abroad. Although I did not know English and had no acquaintance here in America, my passion for fashion enabled me to take a huge step in my life. That is to say, fashion empowers me to achieve something greater in life and makes me want to be stronger. This is why I study fashion with passion and why I am a unique designer and a person.

Yelena Yushvayev-Cavalier
Queens, New YorkI grew up in New York surrounded by its iconic fashion, culture, and architecture. The dream of becoming a fashion designer started at an early age and has never wavered. At one point, I seriously considered a career in medicine, but in my heart I knew fashion was my true vocation. So I followed my dream and decided to enroll at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where I am surrounded by others who share my creative vision. As a student, my creativity, self-confidence, and design skills have grown exponentially. The design process is no longer just a dream; it is now attainable. Fashion design is my driving force; it keeps going and allows me to share a piece of myself with the world.

Yanan Zhao
Da Lian, ChinaI am originally from Da Lian, China and came to the States with my family when I was seven. Coming to America opened up many opportunities for me in terms of following my dreams and doing the things that I wanted without so many constrictions. When I started to design, the satisfaction I felt in making something come alive from a piece of paper really stuck with me. It felt somewhat like an addiction that I couldn’t break away from. What is unique to me as a person and as a designer is that I am not afraid of change. I gravitate toward a certain aesthetic that I always try to incorporate, but there is something exciting about trying something new and exploring the endless possibilities that designing can bring. I am constantly evolving and my designs evolve with me.

FIT, State University of New York

©2021 Fashion Institute of Technology