Shapes, textures and colors have drawn me into this journey. I have always had an urge to play around with these three elements. Following my instincts, I found myself designing. I believe every individual shape, texture, and color has a specific effect on us because they relate to our feelings. As we become fashion designers, we learn how to express those feelings through a garment. Education is essential in order to do this. Studying at FIT gave me the chance to gain hands-on experience in all aspects of fashion. My fashion journey has been full of education, motivation, and experience so far. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me!
Starting from my first year of the school, I loved drawing and creating new things. I remember designing clothes for my Barbies and cutting and sewing them with my nanny. The only problem was that I very often got in trouble for cutting my brand-new clothes. My mom has always been in the ready-to-wear industry as a store manager and later as a top director for major companies in Turkey. I grew up surrounded by style, because my mother cultivated a sense of fashion and imparted her appreciation and her taste to me. FIT was the perfect school for me—not to mention the opportunity it presented to study in New York, the most cosmopolitan and fashion-focused city in the world. After graduation, my life goal is to find a great job in the fashion industry as a designer.
Trinidad and Tobago
I consider myself to be a philomath. I’m a person who always asks the questions “How?” and “Why?” I’m constantly trying to figure out how things are made and created and experimenting with new techniques and processes. When I was a child, my mom often involved me in craft-driven tasks. A couple weeks on one project, and I’d move onto the next. I studied fine arts in school but was really driven by fashion, due to my mom. She always dressed me up every time we went out. I was like a little doll to her. My strength as a designer is that I explore; I never limit myself to just one technique or medium. I like to explore the meanings and values associated with the idea of “contrast” by combining unusual fabrications and atypical proportions. My aesthetic is eclectic and diverse and is a reflection of my childhood and inquisitive nature.
When I look at my past, I can see myself designing outfits, playing with colors and dreaming of my future as a designer who wants to change the idea of what fashion means in the industry. I am so lucky to be able to follow my dreams and find my path in this long journey. I do not believe that fashion must be something that you follow and adapt yourself to; it is something that you create on your own to express yourself. I believe that fashion means connecting your body with your soul and reflecting it the way you want. It is about playing with silhouettes and colors and imitating nature and life. When I design my clothes, I focus on observing the feelings and the lifestyles of everyone, because everyone has their own place in fashion.
Seoul, South Korea
Growing up in Seoul and seeing the work of Valentino made for a truly unique combination of inspirations and ideals. The moment of revelation came when, in middle school, I saw one of his shows in its entirety on TV. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. Since that day I have been on a personal quest to become a fashion designer. I always try to be true to myself. I want to create works that communicate my inner self — the real me!
Hillsdale, New Jersey
Designing clothing is something that has come naturally to me since I was able to hold a pencil. From the age of 4, I have been putting my thoughts onto paper in hopes that they could one day come alive. Granted, when I was 4 years old, these ideas were meant for Barbie. Twenty years later, I am going through the same process, but for ladies who are much larger (and not made of plastic). My mother, a designer herself, was able to guide my creativity and introduced me to the art world, which is what led me to design school. When I graduated from high school, I decided to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design, which opened up my creative world. From there, I decided to take my designing to the next level of technical ability, and transferred to FIT.
I’ve always been fascinated by colors and patterns. Even as a child, I used to color and draw clothes for my dolls. In my 20s, I was led to my first job, as a fashion designer’s assistant, and after that I had my own textile company. After working with fabrics and discovering how fabrics come to life with beautiful design, I decided to study further, and was accepted to ITU and FIT. Now I’m at the end of my studies. Living in two amazing cities while studying makes me feel blessed and more creative. These two cultures help me to expand my creativity and be open to diversity. There is a part of me that wants to help others be comfortable in their own skin through their style choices. Learning never ends, creativity never stops, and I’m happy to be the artist I have become, and a better person, too.
Buffalo, New York
Growing up somewhere quite small, I realized how a dynamic and powerful message could be communicated by the clothing with which you adorn yourself. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of mixing media, observing the contrast between complacency and chaos. I always incorporate these ideas when I design because fashion isn’t just about the apparel you’re wearing. Fashion to me is a lifestyle, a reflection of your mood or an indicator of your life’s influences; it shows your point of view and how you can create and develop not only your ideas but yourself.
The juxtaposition of one’s lifestyle against one’s past, present, and future can create a conceptual framework from which each of us dresses every day. Clothing is a second skin and a personal expression. The beauty behind the title “fashion designer,” for me, lives within the privilege I have to create that expression for someone else, someone I may never meet. To know I have influenced someone else’s self-expression is why I love to create.
I have felt drawn to art since I was a little kid. Looking for ways to express myself, I tried many forms of art, and I chose fashion to show people what I have in my mind. Designing was always a way of surviving to me. It makes me feel like I am alive. My perspective is that fashion is all about feeling yourself, knowing yourself, and sometimes finding yourself. This is what I want to achieve on my path in life. I want people to find themselves, feel the connection, and see that there is nothing wrong with being and showing the real you.
Wooyeon Erica Byun
Wooyeon, a name given to me by my grandfather, translates to “the beauty of the universe.” This is perhaps why I have always been naturally attracted to almost all aspects of nature and the universe — especially those that are unusual, different, and maybe even bizarre to some. Living in different parts of the world since I was a child has allowed me have an open mind toward various cultures, art, and music. As a designer, I want to portray my reaction to our universe through limitless fantasy and imagination. I strive to enhance the conceptual nature of my work with the power of digital technologies such as 3D printing, while preserving and drawing inspiration from traditional methods and arts and crafts.
Marlboro, New Jersey
I design for the moment because I feel that when you look at a person, you can tell a lot about them. A person’s aesthetic is something that defines them, both in the fashion world and in life itself. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a pencil in my hand. Art has always been an outlet that allows me to express myself without limitation. Finding the beauty within someone’s work inspires me to challenge myself. I believe that having the ability to design is an art in itself. Whenever I am in the design process, I tell myself, “If it makes you feel something, you’re set.” I tend to gravitate towards a style of sleek yet sensual garments, designing tailored suits and coats with elements of sportswear and streetwear. I often find myself playing with masculine and feminine qualities in my work.
New York, New York
I have always seen clothing as a way to embrace the human form, not cover it. Most of my designs follow the natural lines of the body with the goal of applying two-dimensional shapes onto a three-dimensional human figure. This exploration of shape and line is the foundation for all that I design. My ambition as a designer is to bring what was the artisanal beauty and quality of haute couture to what the modern world of fashion has become: fast fashion. This is done by the use of higher-quality and more sustainable fabrics, detailed yet more durable construction techniques, and timeless yet contemporary designs, all aimed at the luxury consumer of the 21st century.
My first real memory of when I was sure I wanted to be a designer is of flipping through an old issue of Vogue my aunt had in her house. I studied the editorials, looking closely at all the garments and thinking how great it was that clothing could instantly create another world and that what you wore could transform everything about you. Fashion design is something I never lost interest in, and I feel passionate about it to this day. When I design, I play with textures and enjoy experimenting with different techniques. A lot of my inspiration comes from my emotions and thinking of ways to translate them into clothing. Creating something that people wear and interact with, something that can make them feel a certain way, gives me a rush and drives me to keep doing what I do.
Fashion is about what’s new, what’s next; but for me, I want to create something that lasts a lifetime. I want to create something timeless. I personally don’t like to follow the trend. I love pulling inspiration from traditional clothing to transform it into something different and new. When I get inspired by an object, nature, or the people around me, I begin to design without looking into trends or what is currently on the market. For example, my senior thesis is inspired by a traditional Vietnamese dress, the áo dài.
I really like the dress-over-pants look. It is not restricted to one gender. I want to create clothing that is wearable by both sexes. Growing up in an Asian culture, I was told to not wear men’s clothes. I was told that girls have to be feminine, gentle, and ladylike; my clothes run contrary to those ideas. My style is boxy, masculine, minimal, understated, tailored, and unisex. I want both genders to be able to dress however they want. My clothing includes layers that can pair with different pieces in the collection, and it can be worn by anyone.
Min Kyung Choi
Born in Seoul, South Korea, grew up in New York
I did not start off as a fashion design major. I had no interest in fashion until the end of junior year. The world of fine art was everything to me. It was my motivation, my enjoyment, and it was part of me. I painted in watercolors when I was little, and never thought of doing anything else for my future. But fashion design came to me when I started to think about my future career. I knew doing art could be a perfect hobby for me but it wasn’t enough for a career. Then fashion design came to mind. The world of fashion design can be just as hard as being an artist, or harder. It made me excited about developing something that can join both elements together: art and practicality. I could make wearable art pieces. This was my turning point. After deciding my life goal, I started to study fashion, reading through a lot of fashion magazines and looking through tons of fashion pieces. Here I am now, accepted into the Fashion Institute of Technology after my second try. I fell deeply into fashion design and it became a part of me.
I could never find a garment that satisfied me when I was growing up; I always needed to fix it here and there to make it perfect. Eventually, I got tired and wondered whether I could create something that carried my idea. I learned about the job title “fashion designer” when I was 13. Loving designs led me to loving designing. Turning something from an idea to an actual thing empowers me as a person. I found that all my passion about nature, sustainability, technology, inventions, art, and literature could apply to a collection I designed. To be able to share my perspective with other cultures this way is the coolest thing.
Change is a concept I have always found too intimidating to steer but too necessary to ignore. During my youth, I discovered that fashion and art can make others question convention and skew their emotions and opinions. My younger self’s personal style, periodically amplified by “shock value,” gave me the power to provoke oddballs and perturb narrow minds, and, in the process, express my eccentric yet sincere intentions.
My observation of others’ reactions to conventions has guided me to look to various courageous navigators of change. These boundary-expanding individuals inspire me to create clothing that can empower their philosophies, enhance their narratives, and encourage experimentation, both in style and standards.
I express idealism in playful details, and unstoppable spirit in dynamic, post-gender silhouettes. My designs harmonize subtle statements with witty styling. I aspire to lend my fascination for change to a more sustainable and transparent fashion industry.
I have always had a deep interest in different forms of art. Over the years, drawing turned out to be the best tool I had to show my creativity and it became a part of my life. Eventually, my love for drawing led me to focus mostly on fashion illustrations. At the age of 10, I decided to build a career in fashion design, and I’ve never had a second thought. Now, as a senior at FIT, besides my competency in design, I have made a lot of progress in my sewing skills. The chance to study with esteemed professors helped me broaden my perspective and gain a global perspective on the fashion design major. Geometry and asymmetry, reflected through natural colors, form the key elements of my design approach.
Imagine a little girl who is able to choose her clothes and has a sense of style, which surprises her parents. Her extraordinary ability to remember colors and styles starts to impress them. When she gets older, her interest grows. Her sense of style and fashion and ability to design her own clothes and accessories amazes her circle of friends. This was the beginning of my design career. I never thought that I chose fashion design as a major; from the beginning, I believed that it chose me. I feel more than creative, more than alive, when I’m designing. I usually design for the junior market. What makes me unique is that I can combine so many colors and fabrications in an uncomplicated way. It’s a journey for me to enjoy my life; my biggest dream is to build a successful fashion design career.
Dutchess County, New York
I found out I wanted to be a fashion designer in an odd, sort of roundabout way. I grew up in the historical county of Dutchess. To keep me entertained, my mom would take me to an array of old, incredibly beautiful mansions preserved by the state. In the gift shops at the end of each tour, I was always drawn to the paper dolls, which came adorned in period clothing from the 1800s. I became obsessed with the history of fashion and dreamt of one day becoming a costume designer. I soon discovered that it wasn’t replicating garments of the past that I desired, but creating and imagining the future of fashion. This led me to FIT, my dream school, the only one I applied to. In my long journey through the Illustration program and the Fashion Design program, I was able to achieve some notable accomplishments. I was chosen to showcase my designs as a part of the Art specialization in fourth semester and was a semi-finalist in the CFDA contest in sixth semester. I began working in the industry my junior year. Prints I’ve painted for other designers were called “charming” by WWD and were showcased on the NBC News website. Being in FIT’s senior fashion show has been a dream of mine since I was 10. My babysitter, an FIT alumna, would often tell me dazzling tales of the fashion shows at the college, painting a picture that was truly inspiring to the imaginative mind of a creative little girl.
New York, New York and Tel Aviv, Israel
From a young age I’ve been curious. Art and science were constantly at play with one another, trying to win over my affections. Fashion became my medium of expression, and the sciences my core inspiration. It has become my belief that fashion and technology can live in symbiosis. For the purpose of utility and aesthetics, I believe the two will exist in elegant, effortless harmony.
It started when I was 7 years old. I bought Barbie magazines, cut them up, and started to make my own portfolio. I still have those files, which are arranged by different categories: children’s wear, evening wear. Then I discovered Vogue and made another portfolio out of Vogue. It was stylish and more to my taste. That’s how everything started. I started to sketch all the time and tell everyone that I wanted to be a designer. Except for my parents, no one believed that I wanted it so badly, because I was so young. I love creativity. I love the idea of making what you believe happen, and fashion designing fits this idea. That’s why I chose fashion design for my career. On this journey, I have tasted every kind of fashion style, but now I am most interested in men’s wear, and I like the look of men’s wear on women.
I have always admired the power of the fashion sector and how it could change the world we live in. Fashion is endless magic, and designing what people wear makes me feel amazing. I first felt this when I was young, trying to cut papers, color them, and dress my dolls. My family’s work is based on the wholesale fabric trade in Istanbul, which makes me feel closer to the fashion industry. When the time came for me to think of a future career, there was no hesitation—it was all about fashion. So I decided to improve myself. I attended a fashion academy and took many drawing courses. It then became obvious that I was born for it, for the fashion world, for designing, and for creating.
New York, NY
I’ll be honest. I don’t have those childhood memories of going through my mother’s closet and playing dress-up or flipping through her Vogue magazines. But I do distinctly remember hating the “girly” clothes my mother sometimes used to dress me in. In retrospect, that was indicative of my aesthetic today.
I don’t remember the precise reason or moment I decided to be a designer—but I design now because in my 23 years of life, I’ve never experienced a more exhilarating or rewarding feeling than bringing to life what started as an image in my head. The idea that, if I’m successful, women would want to spend their hard-earned money on and wear my clothes, and that I could play even a small part in helping women become the people they wish to be, is a great feeling.
In the past, when someone asked what makes me different from other designers, I’d fall into an existential crisis. With time and a little perspective, I’ve come to realize that what sets me apart is my point of view. My experiences, my memories, my childhood, being a woman, the people I meet, and the music I love collectively give me something to say.
Devin Christopher Greene
Brooklyn, New York
“Art should be beautiful and pleasure its observer.” This was Oscar Wilde’s philosophy on art, society, and, above all, life. Ever since I was a young man, I wanted to create beautiful things for people to appreciate. I started illustrating and painting, which led me to sculpting, photography, and even filmmaking. Through it all, I noticed that I was always drawn to old Hollywood movies and the glamorous looks that graced the screen. This was my definition of beauty: Fashion. Ever since, I have dedicated my life to design with the purpose of adding beauty to the world and people’s lives. My distinct aesthetic has been molded from the odyssey of my life, including those glamorous Hollywood actresses, my ever-present wanderlust and, of course, the urban nature of the concrete jungle.
In Istanbul, I studied at Istanbul Technical University and now, in my senior year, I am studying at FIT. I have loved drawing and creating new things since I was in elementary school. Creating and combining different styles makes me feel very happy. That is why I went to a summer school in Milan, Italy, when I was 15 and completed the “introduction to fashion” program. By taking this course, I understood that I could be a successful designer. I chose to attend FIT because I knew that FIT would provide the greatest fashion design program possible. After graduation, I want to try different fields of fashion, including sportswear and costume design.
As a designer, I strive to make garments that empower women; I am dressing the modern-day leader. When a garment is designed, I take note of whether it’s practical or functional. I take inspiration from men’s wear and alter it to fit my ideal client. You don’t have to be feminine to look beautiful, and that’s something that you can see in my designs.
Emily Hye Myoung Jung
Incheon, South Korea
I design because I need to create. I constantly feel the need to stimulate my imagination and then challenge myself to bring my ideas to life. Growing up, arts and crafts such as drawing and origami were not just pastimes for me: they were necessities. I loved creating three-dimensional things out of flat objects and watching my ideas become physical things you can see, touch, and share. Dressing is part of everyday life, and clothing and aesthetics have the ability to evoke certain feelings as well as affect how you view yourself. With clothing as my medium, I am able to satisfy my need to create. I can also share with others something that I hope will enhance the experience of their everyday lives and allow them to be their best selves.
I am a knowledge-hungry individual who is eager, adaptive, and constantly seeking innovative discoveries. I strive fervently to put all that madness into all that I accomplish, and I am determined to fearlessly step onto the unknown path if that means I may improve.
I choose to honorably represent my character—not only through design, but in academia. I have made a lifelong commitment to become a creator who continuously presses onward—onward toward greater change, onward toward conquering the insurmountable newness of everyday life, and onward toward humility, an intrinsic value vital to quality creation.
Moreover, I desire to be a future leader who inspires. I strive to be a “direction-ist” who carries strength and dignity wherever I place my virtues, and I will wholeheartedly see that goal through until the very end.
Belarus and the United States
Fashion for me is a language that always needs practice and improvement. Fashion is my personal language, helping me realize ideas, break barriers, and visually show myself as a person.
As a world traveler, I am inspired by things and people around me. I can find inspiration in something I see every day. We see so many different objects, but we don’t always pay attention to their details.
I try to find a middle ground between feminine and masculine, between playfulness and rigor, between sadness and joy. I also try to hide the female body from the male gaze. I want to leave up to her the decision to stay completely wrapped up in a multi-layer oversized garment and to fasten all the buttons of a shirt, or to feel free and unbutton them.
My first degree was in contemporary art, and it still gives an imprint to my work. I love the works of Egon Schiele and constructivist artist El Lissitzky, who believed that the artist could be an agent for change. I have also been greatly influenced by my internships at Maison Martin Margiela and Thom Browne. After Thom Browne, I began to appreciate fabric development and manipulation, embroidery, and the connection between classic tailoring and the avant-garde. I learned to respect hand stitching; for me, it’s a kind of meditation.
Seoul, South Korea
I am always striving to capture the beauty of women. I aim to interpret my mood and feelings through my collections and to free my creativity through fabric on a woman’s figure. The key points in my process are how I react to an object or an atmosphere and how I would like to imagine them through my designs. In addition to feelings, balance and proportion are the most important elements that affect my design process. Most of my collection aspires to support a woman’s sense of grace and comfort, emphasizing the purity of the woman who owns her true identity. A soft draped and constructed silhouette is my signature, representing comfort and intimacy between the skin and the garment. Eventually, I would like my designs to be recognized as the creation of a certain level of poetry.
My journey through fashion started very early. When I was a kid, I preferred to play with my mother’s beautiful handmade scarves than with dolls. I always loved to draw clothes, and when I was old enough to decide what profession I should have, I knew that I wanted to be a fashion designer. From a very young age, I developed a very special trait. When I listen to a song, I get really focused and create an image in my mind about that kind of music, and based on that I create a fashion collection, down to every little detail. Even though I like almost every different fashion style, I really like sportswear and want to be a very successful and well-known sportswear designer.
Seoul, South Korea
The world we are living in is beautiful, full of inspiration and art. I spend most of my personal time at art galleries and traveling around the city. Whenever I take time to look at the world I live in, I realize how beautiful it is. It is a blessing to live in this amazing place and be able to feel all the beauty around me. I want to transfer all this inspiration into garments. I want to suggest to people the experience and feeling of joy of living in this wonderful place. A beautiful garment made with devoted time and effort can make people’s lives happier, give confidence, and make the day better. And designing that beautiful garment would be the most meaningful thing I could do.
Astoria, New York, and Ukraine
I knew I wanted to become a fashion designer since the age of 5 or 6. As a little girl, I used to design outfits for my hand-drawn and -cut paper dolls. Later, I started to hand sew outfits for my Barbie. Thus, my passion for design grew to the point where it gave me the courage to leave my home country, Ukraine, and pursue my dreams of a design career in the Big Apple.
I create elegant, fashionable looks that make a statement by using natural and eco-friendly materials, utilizing smart patternmaking techniques and recycling the scraps. I’m hoping to lead a sustainable business focusing on fair trade and a transparent supply chain that will ultimately have a positive effect, not only on the consumer who’s wearing the product, but also on the global community.
Thousand Oaks, California, and Scottsdale, Arizona
My design aesthetic is rooted in a meticulous eye for detail and a shrewd awareness of emerging trends. I excel in melding sleek, split-level proportions and layers to create simple silhouettes made interesting. My work is organic in richness, native in texture and layers. It is a juxtaposition of masculine details and color combinations, seen in layers of long, soft wools over leathers and sheers. It is tailored with feminine details to create designs that are of-the-moment and able to transition effortlessly from day into night. Growing up in the American Southwest, in both Arizona and California, has made environmental impact a conscious consideration for me in each design project.
Before studying fashion design, I earned an associate degree in Textile Development and Marketing from FIT, where I focused on sustainable textile production.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Growing up, fashion was always a significant influence in my life. My childhood memories include watching my mother designing and sewing and wandering through fabric stores. My life’s journey has taken me to many places across the globe; the airport has been a familiar ground, ultimately leading me to New York City. While moving and traveling around the world, I was fascinated by different cultures, and was inspired to design by architecture, landscapes, and art. Studying fashion design in New York has shown me new possibilities of personal and professional growth. It also inspires me by the energy that surrounds the city and its hybrid vibes. Creativity and construction are important aspects of my designs. I believe that fashion design is a form of art. It allows me to create and apply my artistic skills with the use of fabric, scissors, and a sewing machine.
Somerset, New Jersey
I have loved fashion ever since I was a little girl. My grandmother always helped me dress my best every Sunday morning for church. When I was 13, I decided to make my first dress on a whim. I taught myself to sew and haven’t left my sewing machine since. I enjoy creating. Turning an idea into a tangible item is so interesting to me. I continued to pursue fashion because it comes naturally; it’s something I can never get tired of. I love the idea of a one-of-a-kind design, measurements exclusive to you. Couture and made-to-measure garments are avenues I wish to pursue in the future.
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” — Coco Chanel
We have the freedom to choose what we want to wear. The clothes we put on our body serve as a means of our own personal expression. Street fashion is a very personal thing to each one of us. It’s something that displays our personality, and that is what has inspired me. My designs are all about the feeling of youth. These clothes evoke energy and power and are fun to wear. Choose your style and rock it!
London, Ontario, Canada
From creating disorderly drawings, to pairing quaint pieces of my grandmother’s, to organizing runway shows with my younger sisters, to sewing makeshift outfits, it was clear from a young age that design was a part of who I was. I moved from Canada to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, focusing on fashion design. Here, my love for sustainable practices throughout the design process took shape. My design ethic and style have metamorphosed into a thought-out, sophisticated, and highly technical process, incorporating many sustainable ideas throughout each piece. My goal is to use as little as possible from Earth to produce edgy collections. As a designer I’m passionate about using fashion as a catalyst for women to feel their fiercest, ultimately enhancing their inner confidence to go after the future they desire.
A China-based fashion designer influenced by Japanese manga, I decided to be a fashion designer at the age of 5. I have spent over 15 years finding my style. Moving from China to New York at the age of 18 to study fashion design was a dream come true. My designs are a reflection of myself. I follow my calling without resistance—the voice that tells me to make fashion based on artworks that inspire and move me. My core motivation is the translation of other creative endeavors—image making, art, sculpture—into a modern, directional, playful yet minimal fashion that is paired with my respect for the thinking of children. I believe this comes from my own need to make sense of childish thoughts and to inject them into an industry that often takes itself far too seriously.
“Fashion is the attempt to realize art in living forms.” — Sir Francis Bacon.
Design is my innate nature. I aim to create living art every day, to give back to the art world what it has taught me so far. I am an Indian native born and bred in a desert (Kuwait). My sense of culture instilled in me the practice of arts and crafts at the tender age of 5, which blossomed into fashion art at the age of 10. I was drawn to popular arts of India and the Middle East, such as calligraphy, pottery, glass and and embossed paintings, charcoal drawings, and tile design. My true inspiration for designing is exploring unique art forms that different cultures around the world possess. I believe that my unique cultural background will help exponential inspiration, never seen before, come to life through my designs.
Before studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology I was home-schooled. I’m appreciative of my experiences in a non-traditional school setting; the learning environment I grew up in allowed me the freedom to explore and let me find an authentic passion in design. My work in fashion reflects an organic and imperfect ideal. I strive to create garments that increase in complexity as you view them. My aesthetic is confrontational and androgynous; it has a post-apocalyptic vibe to it. I see fashion as a wearable art form, a way of creating order in an otherwise disorderly world. I take inspiration from the past, from archaic ideas, and from natural processes and forms. Isolated moments and details of my everyday interactions allow me to design in a way that comes authentically. I want my work to ultimately look as though it evolved and grew naturally into its final form.
Growing up in with a father who created sculptures and carvings as a means of providing for the family, is, I believe, what made me fall in love with the arts. It started out with me wanting to express my emotions through painting the scenic landscapes that were all around me growing up on the island of Jamaica. Fashion design wasn’t far behind. Trying to express myself with my daily outfit as a teenager, I would always try to be super eclectic and outside the box with my style. This might have made me a little bit of an outcast, but I was just so happy to be different and unique, even if it meant sticking out. There’s no denying that being involved with fashion is my calling and I’m very grateful to have known at a very early age.
Developing concepts and inspiration came quite naturally to me. As a child, I didn’t have designers to emulate. I grew up in a small community where opportunities for creatives were few. I knew then that I would need to create my own imaginative ideal of what I wanted to be, and hoped to someday be a source of inspiration for the little girls or boys of my hometown, who may wish to turn their creative pursuits into a career. Everything from the music and culture to the beauty of nature in my country all played a significant role in molding me into the designer I am today. I am a firm believer in staying true to who you are and inviting everyone else to see the world through your perspective. I am continually inspired to push the boundaries of design by creating clothes for the woman who dares to stand out from the crowd and experiments with different silhouettes.
Leonia, New Jersey
I have been taking classes at FIT since my freshman year of high school and have known from the start that fashion design was the career I was destined to pursue. New York City is the biggest inspiration for my designs. I am able to travel the world, in a sense, without having to leave the island, because of all of the diversity I’m exposed to in the city. There’s a newness artfully mixed in with the historic—just like in fashion.
My goal as a designer is to contribute smart textiles to sportswear pieces. Fashion is constantly changing, as is our environment. Smart textiles that will not only look beautiful but will actually have beneficial properties will improve our quality of life. That is the future of fashion, which I’m looking forward to being a part of!
I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands to create amazing things. Fashion and clothing have definitely become my creative outlet. Fashion is more than just clothing; it is craftsmanship. It is more than just protection from the elements; it is a way to express my inner self, a way to narrate the story of my life—past, present, and future. I design because I have to! I enjoy the overall process. One spark of abstract inspiration can lead to tangible things—as with experiments in silhouette and proportion, fabric, color, and more. I believe that when you look good, you feel good, and what moves me is the fact that I can design and build something that can give other people confidence. I love that this fashion is my self-expression.
Michael Fausto Oliu
Millstone Township, New Jersey
Since I first put pen to paper, I have been designing in a world that centers on the dichotomy of myth and modernity. Originally working in fine art, I redirected my creativity toward fashion design after realizing that the majority of my work featured women and what they were wearing. With my concentration on the luxury market, I honed my craft through internships with Oscar de la Renta, Marchesa, and Dennis Basso. I have also worked under the mentorship of the creative director of Ferragamo, Massimiliano Giorgetti, while creating my exhibition gown at the Polimoda Institute of Fashion Design in Florence, Italy. Outside of my studies and internships, I have also competed and placed in the Kolon Industries Rebirth Design Competition in Korea. I am a Jerome L. Greene Scholar, was a semi-finalist in the CFDA Scholarship Program, and recently was selected to represent the United States in the Fashion Future for Hong Kong international competition.
Long Island, New York
My love for fashion was innate and something I never chose. To me it’s just another art medium, another way that I can express a message. I design because it’s my passion. During my time at FIT I have been fortunate enough to compete in the annual Fusion Fashion Show, and have won the critic’s award in FIT’s associate degree exhibition. I’ve had the honor of dressing artists such as Lady Gaga and Kate Nash and have been featured in publications such as TUSH magazine, Terry Richardson’s Terry’s Diary, and Bullet Magazine. My goal is to be a part of the next generation of designers. Ultimately I want to bring substance back into something that’s become a machine.
College Station, Texas
I once wanted to freely paint, draw, sculpt, or create art of my own as a standard freelance artist. That’s why I aimed for a fine arts major. However, because of the harsh reality of the business and strong opposition from my parents, I had to give up on it. But I didn’t want to quit art itself forever, since I was sure this is the only field I have talent in. That’s when I thought about indulging myself with fashion: an alternative kind of art that is currently a growing business sector. Now, I dream of becoming a fashion designer of high-end brands, like designers I’ve admired so long (Marc Jacobs, Club Monaco, etc.) I aim to be successful in my field: a fashion designer who is inspiring and trend-setting.
Poughkeepsie, New York
I love creating and designing with my hands and I use my background in art as my technique in fashion. For me, designing is a creative outlet that releases tension within the mind. I believe designing fashion should be approached in a more abstract, artistic way. My design aesthetic focuses on the creation and manipulation of unique textiles. I have a modern sensibility that is equally simple and chic. The goal of my designs is to have a visual impact up close (from the textiles’ intricacy and luxurious fabric), as well as far away (from the strong, clean silhouettes). I know the boundaries of design are limitless and the job of a designer is to explore fashion through his or her individual artistic expression.
Staten Island, New York
I am an FIT Presidential Scholar specializing in women’s sportswear. My love of construction started at a young age, while sewing with my great grandmother. She taught me how to thread my first needle and together, we made simple projects like eyeglass cases and dolls’ clothes. This was the start of my passion to create beautiful things. I have since graduated from the felt change purses of my childhood to high-end sportswear, always keeping in mind the importance of precision and patience that my grandma instilled in me. I have had the amazing privilege to study abroad at Polimoda in Florence and Politecnico di Milano, where I learned to appreciate the quality of true craftsmanship. It was an invaluable experience that not only inspired me to minor in both Art History and Italian, but has also tremendously impacted my perspective as a designer. I look forward to a lifetime of creativity.
Dina L. Penzi
Brookville, New York
Fashion is a cultural phenomenon that means something different to everyone. To some, it is a form of art and self-expression. To others, it is the trend of the times and something only known by models and designers. To me, fashion is everything and more. It encompasses who I am and how others perceive me. From an early age, I marveled at my mother’s closet, filled with glamorous and enchanting clothes.
I would dream of my future in the fashion world and anticipate the joy it would bring me in life. As the years passed, I began to realize how remarkable this form of art truly is. Today, I enjoy designing and breathing life into the garments that I imagined first as an illustration. For me, fashion has moved away from simply being a future profession. It now provides a stage where my work gives me purpose and, in turn, happiness.
Bronx, New York
I am a fun-loving young woman who likes to dress well. I have been interested in fashion since my childhood. I always sketched and made clothes for my Barbie dolls. I attended the High School of Fashion Industries, so I have been studying fashion design since the ninth grade. I have a family full of seamstresses and designers, but as an aspiring designer, I want to be noteworthy.
I would like to consider myself a stylish person. I design clothing that I would wear, garments that are missing from my own wardrobe. Everyone wants to be unique, and impeccable clothing is one option to make that happen. I design to make people confident in their clothes, to fill a void. Creating essential garments that are interesting is my way of designing.
When I was young, I realized that I was quite a different kid from all my friends. I had some sense of style when I was very young, and I would cut or change the clothes my mother bought for me. I started to study music when I was five years old. Music has been a major influence in my life. I formed a rock band when I was in middle school, and since then, rock music has become a source of inspiration for me. After studying fashion design in two different colleges in Italy, I was impressed by the country’s music and art as well as the unique way people dress in order to show their identity and differences. All these experiences are sources of my inspiration and make my work unique as a designer.
Chula Vista, California
I am a fashion-forward designer who sees inspiration all around. My phone is always ready to snap the next picture, whether it’s museum art or street styles. I integrate practicality with bold style, combining men’s wear-inspired tailoring with feminine shapes and textures. My customer is cool and confident, strong, but not afraid to show her soft side.
Born not far from the beach in San Diego, I have lived in Florence, Italy, and currently call Brooklyn home. Design is my life; it’s my passion and self-expression.
New York, New York
When people think of New York, they envision a graphic skyline towering over a roaring sea of people all dressed in black. Growing up, I witnessed a different New York. A gritty, more free side, filled with adventure. From the trips to Queens’s Forest Park in my grandfather’s Cadillac, where I would collect insects and plant life, to bike riding with neighboring kids in the cemetery that was just outside my bedroom window, every day I fell more in love. I design to recreate this feeling of adventure for the viewer; to share this view of New York City with others and question what the “new” New York is, what it truly means to be a New Yorker through the eyes of someone who has seen the city’s soul in its purest form. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever felt.
For as long as I can remember, I have been drawing. Although I could draw anything well, I almost always found myself drawing clothes on figures. This obsession with clothes continued into fashion magazines, making dolls’ clothes, and wearing “improper” outfits throughout the years as a hobby. I chose this major in my senior year of high school, when I was brave enough to confess to myself this had always been my dream. I design to feed my hypervisual sense. I have loved learning and thinking since I was born. I have a quirky intellectual fondness for philosophy, knowledge, and modern art that shaped my design identity. I aim for a display on the body that transforms the audience into thinkers. I think triggering the brain by design will reach a more creative viewer than through the eyes, which are capable of withstanding an enduring visual euphoria.
Long Island, New York
My entire life has led me to this point. I can remember sewing at the age of 8 and being excited over my majorly mini accomplishments. As I grew, so did my love for design and clothing. I began cutting up things I had in my closet, experimenting with store-bought patterns, and taking on more advanced projects. I knew that the passion I had for designing was something I was destined to use professionally, so I put all my eggs in one basket and never looked back. I’ve taken many more risks since those days and have expanded my skills to create something well-thought-out and engineered. I find inspiration in life’s daily constants, whether it be on my commute on the metro or seeing juxtaposed surfaces on the sidewalk. I’ve trained my eye to find the beauty in the everyday.
Queens, New York
Born to a father who worked in entertainment business management and a mother who works in human services, I have always been both enterprising and socially conscious. From an early age, I can remember being obsessed with dressing as a form of expression. I would get up before my mom to try to dress myself, every day hoping she’d accept my choice of getup. I constantly had my nose in a sketchbook or was cutting up clothes to redesign into outfits for my dolls. There was no particular moment that defined my life path, as clothes have always been my obsession. As I grew older and realized this was an amazing, multi-faceted industry, I brought with me that social awareness. I hope to one day work for a company committed to ethical practices and making the world a better place.
Queens, New York
I wanted to become a designer because it’s my way of creating art. My favorite thing about designing is seeing a sketch change in different ways and then come to life in a new form. The most satisfying part is seeing someone wear my creations.
As a New York-based sportswear designer, my focus is on designing clothes that can be worn from day to night. I like to combine the urban streetwear style with the luxurious aspect of New York in my designs. My goal is to eliminate the time a woman takes to go home to change so she can go out after work. With the fast-paced lifestyle in New York, everyone is on the move to do the next thing, and I want my designs to match that.
I have always been interested in art in some way. This interest turned to fashion drawing after I saw wonderful collections in a fashion magazine when I was 11. Everyone has childish dreams for their future job but then their ideas change. I did not want to leave my dreams behind me. I like to sit and observe people and surroundings and every detail that I can catch. My designs are united by functional details, rich fabrication, powerful color scales and the combination of different textures. With the development of technology, I also want to mix innovative details within my work. When people examine my designs I want to surprise them with details. The best perspective I gained from FIT and ITU is to pay equal attention to functionality and aesthetics. My customer should feel comfortable when he or she wears my designs.
New York, New York
From being a United States Marine machine gunner, living and fighting alongside the sons of America, to now being completely submerged in an ocean of creativity, surrounded mainly by the innovative daughters of the world—it has been quite a ride and a perfect way of refining my soul. I felt a divine nudge toward fashion and applied to FIT. Being completely ignorant of the idea of fashion, and normally wearing khaki shorts and a Hanes white T-shirt from Walmart, I reacted immediately to the long list of shortcomings I had compared with my new surroundings. When I became a working student in FIT’s Jewelry Design Department in my seventh semester, an incredible desire to explore new reaches of creativity was ignited. Coming to FIT, having my DNA infused with fashion, and striving to be different has strengthened me as a growing creator.
Born on the island of Barbados, I migrated to the United States at 19, knowing I would pursue a career in the fashion industry. After obtaining my GED, I applied and was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology less than one year after my arrival. Working full-time and attending night classes, I finally graduated in 2005 with an associate degree in Fashion Design. Unfortunately, my dream of working in the fashion industry after graduating was put on hold. Nine years later, in 2014, I decided that it was time to finish what I started and applied to the Bachelor of Fine Arts Fashion Design program. The road has been hard, but now I can see the finish line, the ending of one chapter, and the beginning of my new life as a fashion designer.
I’ve always been a creative person who enjoys working with her hands and appreciates many different types of art. As a teen, I attended a design magnet school where I got to take art and design courses and where I learned all the technical aspects of both of those worlds. By my senior year of high school, I created my first mini-collection. I got to drape, make patterns, and sew everything myself. For two months, I worked endless hours and completely immersed myself in my collection, and when it was all finished, I knew that I couldn’t study anything else. Fashion design was my calling and I love everything about it.
Roslyn, New York
Since childhood, I have always felt happiest and most energized when I had an opportunity for creative expression, whether it was drawing, music, or dance. It was not until I began to travel that I became interested in fashion. Seeing the traditional clothing of different places fueled my interest in exploring how fashion can express different identities, which inspired me to start creating my own designs. My travels throughout Asia have been the most influential, and my own designs often have Eastern influences. This attraction to other cultures’ clothing has also been the reason that costume design has appealed to me so much. Although sportswear has been my primary field of study, I intend to continue my fashion career in costume design.
Staphany Scarlett Trevino
Bronx, New York
My passion for fashion and design is rooted in my adolescent search for my personal identity. In my attempts to discover individuality, fashion was a means of experimentation and expression. It started at an early age with the pressures of school, where everyone’s focus was to fit in and to be accepted. I was determined to diverge from all that. I began sketching and dabbling on notebook paper, and from there my aesthetic slowly developed. Various periods in my life evoked different ideas of who I wanted to be and influenced the way I looked. The things that I drew or designed were all things that I wanted to have. I didn’t conform to my surroundings and I continue to break the barrier of what people expect of me. As a female in search for a voice, I always leaned towards the qualities of masculinity. Those qualities influenced me to focus less on gender identity and have become a part of my design philosophy.
Aslı Cicek Varuy
The field of fashion design requires a creative consistency to ensure the public eye receives the visual satisfaction it desires. Every person has a dream to achieve in life, and I have wanted to be in the fashion industry since my childhood. I love my section in Fashion Design because I find myself when I am designing something new. It requires a lot of creativity and innovation for one to prosper. That creativity should enable a designer to develop or maintain a brand. My ultimate life goal is to find a great job in the fashion industry. I yearn to work as a creative director for a fashion company.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother told me about how she used to go to the tailor and design her clothes. I was fascinated by that idea, and ever since then, I wanted to be a designer. During my college years, when I was trying to find my own path, I figured out that I had an interest in designing prints. I especially like using watercolor and markers and sometimes I mix them together to create different prints and patterns. My favorite designer is Mary Katrantzou; I think she is the master of prints. But for my senior fashion show collection, I wanted to try something completely different, so I got inspired by men’s wear. One day, when I feel I am experienced enough in the industry, I want to start my own company.
I have had a passion for fashion from an early age. Starting in kindergarten, I sketched dresses and made my family circle their favorites. Later, in high school, I took a special fashion sewing class. It really took off from there. You could say my father influenced my love for design. He used to dress my mom in the most beautiful outfits, and I would say to myself, “Someday I will make beautiful clothing like this.” I was fortunate enough to travel a lot growing up. Experiencing new cultures really inspired me. My aesthetic is a bit dark, provocative, always body-conscious, and attentive to proportion. I pull inspiration from my Western roots, from nature, culture, architecture, and textiles. I like to experiment with screenprinting, couture embellishments, corsetry, developing new structures, and new materials. Clothing is an art form. It should be full of emotion, passion, and drama!
My aspiration to become a fashion designer began in my early childhood. After my parents and I moved to the United States from Germany, we did not have many funds. They tried to save money in any way they could, and as one way to do so, they handmade my baby clothes. Hearing stories and witnessing their creativity firsthand when I was growing up heavily influenced my dream of being a designer.
My work reflects the desire to be perceived as a self-confident person by the outside world. My aesthetic is seductive and intimate. My designs show subtle details that expose and flaunt enticing parts of the body. I design with the intent to capture a woman’s positive self-image and embrace her true, inner beauty.
Stephon E. Williams
As an artist, I’m inspired by an array of ideas. In any garment I create or illustrate, the focus is on movement and silhouette; I want to entertain the eye with a silhouette that adds interest to the body. My artistic approach is similar to the hand-eye coordination of a painter. Seeing my parents dress up for formal occasions when I was 9 years old sparked my interest in design. Since then, I have believed fashion should be the external voice speaking for the internal feeling. I am fueled by the independence clothing once had. With that said, I want to create a different dynamic in the everyday appearance of an individual.
I have been fascinated by arts, textiles, and crafting since my childhood. I remember that my paintings and art works were either part of exhibitions or were kept at elementary school to be a model for future classes. As a person keen on arts, I always continued painting and I also started to envision new clothes from the old ones I had at home. I converted skirts to bags, dresses to blouses, etc. I also have a family history in this area. My grandmother was a graduate of fashion design school. Unfortunately, she was not able to work because after marrying my grandfather, she had to move to a small town in Turkey. This is why she has become the mentor for my enduring efforts in fashion design.
Gizem I. Yazıcı
The first nickname I earned as a kid was “Crazy Ily.” I earned this title by giving my family a hard time, questioning everything about life, and being as offbeat as possible. I used to cut and dye every single garment my mother got for me since I was a baby. Nobody knew that it was leading me to choose my ambition in life. At the age of 4, I was discovered by my teachers and started attending Pera Art Academy. I discovered that fashion is the best way for me to express myself. I believe fashion represents our mood swings, personality, priorities in life, confidences, and insecurities. I want to go beyond fashion as a word and help people understand that it is not only about trends, but also about how we define ourselves and make people question who they are.
I feel we all need to bring out our talents to their fullest. The accumulating power of personal fulfillment will push our world forward. I’m very aware of this and wish to practice it through fashion. It’s my artistic pursuit, a very pure and fundamental motivation. I wish to bring a new vision into current fashion, and create a new form of visual language that can reach the young generation.