Since I was young, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I didn’t know I wanted to be a designer until I visited New York and was inspired by what people in the streets were wearing and by the art galleries, museums, and shopping districts. Another inspiration was my grandmother. Growing up in Laos there wasn’t much to do, so I would watch my grandmother make her own clothes and beg her to teach me how to sew.
As a designer, I am unique in my attention to details, such as buttons or a stitching detail that elevates a simple silhouette. I chose sportswear because I want to make functional clothing that people get their hands on, not just admire. My aesthetic is modern contemporary: sportswear-influenced tailoring, loose silhouettes, fun contrasting colors. My designs are inspired by the streets of New York and cater to younger and older women.
Miller Place, New York
I always wanted to be a designer. At the age of ten, I went to my first sewing class that my mother hastily signed me up for as a way for me to get out of my shell. At the end of the first class, my mother asked me how I liked it. My response was, “Mom, I’ve found my nirvana!” I think that pivotal moment of my life still resonates with me. My goal as a designer is to give customers a voice and a way for them to express themselves. My aesthetic is always a mix of feminine and structured pieces, wearable and unique at the same time. Design has shaped my life, and I want my designs to make an impact on every customer.
Santiago, Dominican Republic
I have always been interested in clothing semiotics and why people choose to dress the way they do. I believe there is an invisible way of communicating who you are with what you wear, and I like exploring this thought with my designs. I decided to attend FIT because I really wanted to gain the skills to be able to construct a garment from scratch and FIT has provided that for me.
I tend to lean toward the more ambiguous side of art, blurring gender lines. I have realized that I never design with a gender in mind; I just want the end result to be an interesting and comfortable piece.
Starting from my first year of school, I loved drawing and creating and playing with colors. When I look at my past, I would not miss my drawing classes at school for anything. I am so lucky to be able to follow my dreams and find my path in this long journey with FIT. This was the perfect school for me because New York is the most cosmopolitan and fashion-focused city in the world and a place where many cultures meet. Now, as a senior at FIT, in addition to my competency in design, I have gained a global perspective on fashion design. When I am designing, I feel independent and creative. I really like sportswear and want to be a very successful designer with a great job in the fashion industry.
New York, New York
My design aesthetic is girly-tomboy. Growing up I was definitely a tomboy and loved to play sports, but I still loved to shop and dress up. I didn’t see the need to choose between the two as many other girls did. As I grew up I noticed that they were many women who shared the same aesthetic as me. Hence, picking sportswear was a no-brainer for me. Designing came naturally; my grandmother, who raised me, was a seamstress, and my father was a tailor. I remember making clothing for my dolls and pets. A unique quality about me as a designer is my love-hate relationship with my designs. I fall out of love with my designs every other week. The best part is falling back in love with them and making them better.
Emine Merve Baskaya
I can clearly remember running my hands through all the different dresses and coats at department stores as a child. I would linger on each piece, trying to understand the textures, and then move on to the next. The soft and creamy silks and warm and toasty cashmeres would ignite a sense of calm, and I would get trapped in the moment. This infatuation grew when my mother’s fashion designer friends started to bring me scraps of fabric. I couldn’t yet sew, as I was too young, but I used pins to hold the scraps together and let my imagination run wild. Before attending college, it was difficult for me to create what I envisioned, due to my lack of experience, but now, having had the chance to study fashion design, I can easily transfer my vision to reality and this is the most incredible feeling I could ever have.
Istanbul is my birthplace, and New York, my dream place. I am so lucky to have the chance to live in these two different worlds. Since high school, it has been my goal to become a designer. I love drawing; it just relaxes me. The only thing I love more than drawing is seeing my designs become real. I attended the ITU Fashion Show my first year of college, and the feeling I had when I was on the runway was indescribable. That feeling hit a record high when I saw my designs in the famous Turkish newspaper Sabah. Also last year, I was ranked third place in the 2016 Istanbul Technical University Fashion Show.
Functionality is my main purpose while designing. Spending hours and hours at fabric stores and finding new textiles is inspiring to me. I design with various details, multiple fabrics, and diverse colors in my collections.
Ece C. Cagdas
Hi from Ece! In the beginning, my fashion journey was like standing by the deepest ocean with the most beautiful green color and not knowing the depth of the water because I was still standing on the shore. When I started to develop an interest in fashion, I began to draw. It is the best way I have to express myself as a unique individual. I am addicted to creativity, not only in fashion, but in every part of my life. What brings me here is my “lively curiosity.” People think fashion comes from wealth, but I believe it comes from exploring human character. My design process is undoubtedly based on deductive reasoning. Deduction reflects my design choices and my aesthetic of using details to create awareness. I am inspired by my senses and by the cultures that surround me. They become part of my core and inspire me.
From a young age I have always been interested in designing clothes. I have been designing and sewing since I was seven. I love fashion design because it is an interactive art. I believe fashion is where art meets utility. When people dress themselves, they are presented with the opportunity to visually express themselves in a creative way. I want to design clothes that are fun to wear and fun to look at. I want to bring more technical and functional elements into women’s sportswear. My aesthetic can be described as feminine, whimsical, and polished. I like to reference my culturally diverse background and travels in my designs, as well as explore issues of cultural appropriation.
Fashion has always been an extension of me—expressing my emotions, my interests, and my state of mind. I consider myself a dreamer, and I design to bring my dreams to life. Having an active imagination and boundless creativity are among the most important traits to me, and I want to bring out that childlike sense of wonder inside everyone else with my designs. They may not appear in every collection, but birds are a big inspiration to me. They’re beautiful and free, and I like to incorporate those ideals into my aesthetic universe. I specialized in sportswear because I felt it was the best way to reach a broader range of people—of dreamers. I hope to draw the likeminded into my aesthetic universe filled with fantasy.
Daejeon, South Korea
When I was in elementary school, in fifth year, I saw runway shows on TV for the first time and I fell in love with fashion. I felt it was a new way of art. When I got inspired, I loved to draw clothes in a notebook and it always made me happy. I believe that designing clothes is very similar to designing space. They are both very connected with the human experience: fashion design exists for human beings not just for protection of the body but also to make each person feel unique, while architecture exists to create beautiful spaces for humans. I think the goal of fashion design is to create one’s own aesthetic style for people. This idea of defining fashion design makes me unique as a designer.
New York, New York
My path to fashion design is a cliché one. It is the typical story of a young girl’s hobby of drawing nothing but dresses on pretty girls and finally being told that there is a profession for it. After most profound soul searching during the majority of my high school career and after taking pre-college courses at FIT, I embarked on the journey to become a designer, despite the many eyebrows that rose upon my announcement of this decision.
As a designer, I am mostly inspired by the rich costumes and art of different historical times, such as the Victorian era and the Rococo period. As a result, more often than not, my designs often comprise a more geometric and structural quality in elements such as lines and silhouettes. Key words that exist within my aesthetic universe are “embellishments,” “romantic,” and “baroque lines.”
Boynton Beach, New York/Jamaica
I got a “birthday outfit” every year since age five. I would design it and pick out the color, the fabric, and the accessories. I did not know what it was back then, but I liked it and was hooked! FIT is where you get to play in a controlled environment as you are taught the rules of fashion. I’m waiting to break every one! Born in St. Andrew, Jamaica, I have an East Indian grandmother, a Chinese uncle, an English (yeah, like the Queen) grandfather, and a Panamanian grandfather with Ghanaian ancestry who helped build the Panama Canal. I want to always represent my many facets. My aesthetic has tribal elements that represent my Ghanaian ancestry. It’s regality, yet smooth, queenly, goddess-like lines. I did not choose the specialization. I have enriched my experienced by taking electives, such as leather techniques, special occasion flat pattern, and haute couture techniques.
Massapequa Park, New York
Fashion has had a massive influence on my life since I was a child. Fortunately, due to my father’s career in music, I was lucky enough to travel at a young age to many places around the world. Traveling at such a young age not only exposed me to the world, but to the different cultures throughout it. I noticed how clothing differed from place to place, with some standing out more predominantly than others. I was hooked on how a piece of fabric attached to our skin had meaning. However, studying in another country was very different from traveling to a place for vacation. I have a new outlook on the industry after being abroad. I am interested in sustainable activewear that is more than just figure hugging. Most important, I am a firm believer in our garments or “second skins” having more than one purpose.
Laguna Beach, California
I was always trying to be creative since I was young. When I was a little girl, I would draw in the dirt at soccer or softball practice instead of playing on the field. I use to wrap curtains around myself to make “dresses.” My love of clothing has always been a strong passion of mine so I decided to apply to FIT to make clothing my career. My aesthetic is mixing hard and soft, heavy and light, delicate and rough; I love contrast. I have always loved observing people’s unique, personal, everyday style, and I want to help people show who they are by what they wear. Dressing is very personal and the ultimate form of self-expression, and I love working in a world that helps people express themselves.
Hawthorne, New York
Fashion design has always been my passion and way of expressing myself. I view it as a way of not only establishing identity, but as a method of sending a message about what kind of world I want to live in. Every dollar spent is a vote for what continues on Earth. I choose to design vegan because I care about the environment and the liberation of sentient beings. I want my designs to spread awareness and make a difference in the world. I would describe my aesthetic as dark and eccentric, spooky and quirky. My life is alt-fashion and subcultural.
I spent a lot of time studying fine arts and developing myself as an artist, and I use to take ballet and tap dance classes. I’ve always loved fashion and loved dressing nice while going to art school. But although I loved art, I also wanted to be realistic on how I could create art while at the same time make a better life for myself. I first began design when I decided I wanted to try to make money with my art. Ultimately, I would like my own company, but on the way there, I would like to work for brands like Nike, Theory, HBA, or Wang.
I have countless memories of myself as a child on the roof of my house in Damascus, Syria. I would draw, hand sew, knit, or convince my neighbor to make beaded jewelry with me when she would rather ride her bike. Creating art brought me to that state of blissful flow and made me disappear into space and time. I studied fashion to fulfill my innate desire for creativity, and I minored in psychology to satisfy my curiosity. Throughout my studies, I’ve acquired a handful of skills, a greater perspective of design, and a better quality of attention and critical thinking. I’ve made it my purpose as a designer to create fashion that enhances the user’s life on multiple levels. My philosophy is built around a hierarchy that embraces utility as its foundation, humor as its core, and bringing the conceptual to the everyday as its crown.
I design because fashion and designing is an immense, splendid world that helps me express myself well. My curiosity about magazines, shows, fabrics, and illustrations made me want to become a designer when I was younger, and I see now that the decision to study fashion design was certainly accurate. When I look back to the time that I decided to study fashion design, I realize I was too young to make such a significant decision, but I have no regrets. I’ve discovered that there is a strong connection between endorphins and the dress you are wearing. It doesn’t have to be a high-fashion, luxurious garment. Your mood and feelings can change immediately, and that power made me choose fashion design. I don’t have a specific design aesthetic, except for the emotions that fashion should evoke. It should make you feel something—comfortable, self-reliant, free, pretty, rebellious, or anything.
I was born in Istanbul, Turkey. As everyone knows, sometimes a small present can change someone’s whole life, and that is my story. When I was four, I was designing clothing for my Barbie doll and giving my designs to my grandmother to sew them. At twelve years old, I got a sewing machine as a present from my grandfather. Before that, sewing was just a hobby, but when I got that sewing machine, I felt like this had to be my life story. Since my childhood, I have loved to travel. I can get inspired by a lot of things just by looking at my surroundings. My travel hobby has helped me to widen my fashion horizons. New York in particular has given me the chance to see different cultures.
South Hempstead, New York
Before studying fashion design, I studied fine arts. I’ve always been interested in feminism and its role in art. I chose to pursue fashion because I see it as a catalyst for social change. Particularly in the realm of women’s wear, I feel that the female form is so highly politicized that what we wear is crucial to how others view us. I feel that fashion can change the way we see others and ourselves. I chose sportswear because I feel that everyday clothing is the most telling of how we form our identity. I prefer not to work with a specific aesthetic. I like to challenge myself to understand a different user or identity each time I design.
East Northport, New York
I’ve always been described with analogies comparing me to the color yellow and sunflowers and sunshine. I want my designs to reflect just that—I want my designs to be full of light . . . sunshine . . . happiness. I love silly fashion, busy prints, emotive colors. My favorite designer at the moment is into bold colors and granny squares, and my favorite illustrator at the moment is all about imagination. I believe sportswear will help me realize this goal in that my designs are for any person to wear any day or anywhere. I chose to become a designer because I wanted to find a way to incorporate my love of fine art into something practical and tangible—something that’s also relevant to my life. Fashion is wearable art; you literally cannot escape it.
I have been interested in fashion since my childhood, like many other designers, but unlike them, I have an idol who has supported me in my journey. This idol is my grandfather. He has worked as a tailor for years, and he knows the difficulties of the industry, which has enabled him to help me get through it all. With his support and influence, I knew that I wanted to be a fashion designer, and I feel lucky to be able to follow my dreams and find my path in this long journey. My designs have modern silhouettes, functional details, rich fabrication, and powerful color ranges. What I learned from FIT and ITU is to pay attention to both functionality and aesthetics. I believe this combination is key to creating something interesting.
Bergenfield, New Jersey
As a young kid, traveling was a big thing for my family. Getting to see all the different countries and how everyone’s styles differed made me really interested in fashion. I feel that design brings out a part of me I didn’t know existed, and I love seeing that side of me come out. I always go with what my head is telling me to design. Trends are temporary and I rarely design off who’s wearing what or how. I love sportswear because it’s such an open specialization and I’m not limited to what I can make. My design aesthetic is something a little sexy mixed with mysterious, yet fun.
Greenlawn, New York
Creating has always been second nature to me. At a young age I constantly found myself drawing and coloring, and begging my great-grandmother to make more doll clothes with me. She was a huge influence on me growing up, and I always tell her that she is definitely the person that put me on this journey. I am forever grateful to her. I believe what makes me unique as a designer is my ability to design for not just one specific gender. Exquisite clothing has no limitations, no gender. My aesthetic is very oversized, layered, exaggerated, effortless, comfortable, and strange. I am drawn to awesome knits, textures, and colors and menswear elements. I think fusing both elements of menswear and women’s wear is genius.
As a child I always knew I was going to do something creative with my life, I just didn’t know what. Growing up, I felt that my clothes helped me figure out and express who I was. Getting dressed was always my favorite part of the day. I loved how fashion could feel like both an escape and a direct manifestation of one’s self. I chose sportswear because I like the idea of designing clothing for a person’s everyday life. I try to have a refined aesthetic; I aim to design clothes that are unique, but wearable, and multiseasonal, if possible.
Sierra Madre, California
Ever since I can remember, I have been creating things. I started with designing jewelry in middle school. Soon after, I realized that designing clothing was what I really wanted to do. I started taking pattern-making classes in high school and fell in love. It was so interesting to me to create a puzzle on paper that would later be a garment. My advisor told me about FIT my sophomore year in high school, and I knew it was where I needed to be. I applied to FIT, and only FIT, and was rejected the first time, leaving me heartbroken. But then I applied again the year after and was accepted! It seemed obvious to me that sportswear was the right specialization for me because I want to create clothing for the masses. My design aesthetic is comfortable, minimal, and nostalgic.
Seoul, South Korea
Coco Chanel once said, “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.” This quotation best expresses my strong point of view on fashion. Fashion—what people wear—makes me think and speculate about the meanings people express through their clothing. It exists everywhere, and it has been everywhere I have been. Fashion leads me to see what is happening in the world and pushes me to be deep inside of it. It makes me communicate with people without a word and has made me want to be a part of it. I dream of being someone who seeks beauty, interprets it through a unique viewpoint, and inspires by creating. There is no doubt my deep-rooted belief about fashion led me to pursue my passionate dream of fashion design.
I decided to attend FIT because it was the school that was going to provide me with a full education that would allow me to succeed in my career. I am glad I made the choice to attend FIT because my knowledge has grown so much. Also, thanks to FIT I had the opportunity to study abroad, and that was one of my best experiences. The opportunity to study at FIT has helped me to broaden my knowledge and pursue my dreams. For my senior year I want to challenge myself and put into practice everything I have learned these past four years. As a sportswear designer I want to create a collection where I bring a new vision to the fashion world, and in which my creativity has no limitations.
Los Angeles, California
Fashion is the optimal platform for me to express my creativity and vision. It is what I immerse myself in to find beauty, and it is also a place for me to translate beautiful elements that I find in other art forms into clothing. My decision to concentrate on sportswear comes from the idea that everyday clothing can be exquisite and special without it being attire for a formal event. My approach to design is creating garments that allow one to feel beautiful and luxurious in them. I enjoy creating clothing that lasts, both in the sense of time and aesthetics.
Busan, South Korea
My fondness for clothes is not the only reason I want to do fashion design. Clothes are a tool for self-expression. As a worthless stone becomes shinier by continuously cutting the surface, everyone has the right and the ability to become beautiful with the right techniques. I want to provide an easy way for women who are not satisfied with their looks to feel better, to feel proud and beautiful. I am inspired by the unique things that come from different approaches to various materials, whether it’s through architecture, painting, sculpture, or nature. Also, a fusion of different cultures always inspires me and opens up a unique pathway to the fashion world. I want people to feel happiness and satisfaction through clothes I make for their daily life so I chose sportswear—the closest specialization to ready-to-wear. I consider my aesthetic to be feminine, modern, unique, and creative, with colorful designs.
Hewlett, New York
With fashion, art, and culture as the thriving force of my inspiration, I have constantly immersed myself in all things creative. I draw my inspiration from my spiritual and emotional response to daily life. I am most inspired by why people dress themselves the way they do—what they wear, how it makes them feel, and how it leads them to live their daily lives. Designing has been my way of expressing myself, starting from a very young age, and I have watched my skills and connection to design grow constantly every year. Looking back at my portfolio from my first year is always a great way to see how far I have come.
What I love about fashion is that I can express myself well with it. In my first two years of college, I majored in genetics and bioengineering. In my second year I started to think I was in the wrong major. I was totally into fashion and wanted to be in the industry. I found myself in fashion. Now I’m getting inspiration from all the things around me, from artists and their artwork, and even from my country’s history. Everything inspires me. I like designing clothes for sophisticated and chic women—women who want to be different and have people talk about their look. I chose sportswear because I know that if you are in the fashion industry, you have to design wearable stuff. After graduating I want to design swimwear because that’s how I express myself the best. I want to collaborate my knowledge of activewear with swimwear.
Born into a family with parents who are both doctors, fashion design was not always the first career option in my life. It was all very new and different to us. However, I knew that I was always interested in fashion, art, and different cultures in some way; I just wasn’t aware that my path would intersect with fashion design in the future and I would get to study and enjoy it. My love for sketching and drawing and simply creating is something that has been a part of me since childhood, and it is what led me here. I know that this is the best decision I have ever made, and I am excited where this journey will take me in the future!
Brooklyn, New York
Throughout my life I have studied fine arts. Art was my passion, but I wondered, “What could I possibly do with art to avoid being a starving artist?” As my ten-year-old self watched Project Runway, the answer was right in front of me . . . FASHION. That’s where it all began. My sophomore year I began taking precollege courses at FIT and never left. Fast-forward to my sophomore year of college: I applied to study in Florence. In Florence I realized 100 percent I belonged in sportswear, simply by seeing Florentine fashion in the store windows and on Italians I would walk by on the way to school. I was also inspired by the very artistic draping styles my professors taught me. Working with Massimiliano Giornetti, the creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo, helped a little, too. My aesthetic is very edgy—geometric with clean lines and drapes, yet sexy and flattering to women.
New York, New York
From a young age I was always drawn to clothing and the glamour of fashion design. My love of fashion design and living down the street from FIT for the past decade propelled me to apply to FIT. I applied in my senior year of high school on a whim without any expectations. Since then, my journey through FIT has changed the way I think about fashion design. For me, fashion design is a unique method of conveying my concepts through a mixture of experimentation and research while pushing boundaries, with the ultimate goal of finding out who I am as a designer. Fashion design is more than just clothes being sent down a runway; it is a way of life.
I love expressing myself through fashion. I live and breathe it. Whenever people are really interested in my clothes and want to try them on, I feel wonderful. I am really interested in everything that surrounds me and enjoy traveling to other counties to find something new for my designs. Also, I am really curious, idealistic, creative, and adventurous, which has helped me adapt easily to unfamiliar situations. I have a lot of life experience. I already have another bachelor’s degree in business and Russian from Korea, and I worked as a designer before moving here. So, these various experiences have helped me become more flexible and adaptable. For example, even though my specialty is in outerwear, I can design pretty much anything. While I am designing garments and collections—a process that drives me crazy—I forget about everything else, which can get me into some pretty dicey situations!
Dan (Yong Eun) Lee
Seoul, South Korea
I design because I believe it is quite an exciting process of marrying art and science. At first, I chose to become a fashion designer just because of my love for clothes, but now I find a new joy in creating and designing fashion as more of an artistic form. I believe my uniqueness as a person and as a designer comes from the way I think. I tend to think both logically and emotionally, and always dig deep into my thoughts. My design aesthetic is always to follow two principles I have: authenticity in fashion and innovation of construction—all within the spirit of today’s street culture.
New York, New York
My first experience at FIT was back in high school when I registered for a patternmaking class. I naively assumed I would be “making patterns” by doing what I now know to be textile design. An intense draping class was what actually awaited me, but it was quite a happy accident because it set me on the path to truly appreciating the hard work that goes into making clothing.
I continue to find fashion interesting because it is, by its very nature, so interdisciplinary. It involves planning, organization, creativity, aesthetics, and craftsmanship. I have come to realize that my interest in fashion design lies in rethinking the way we interact with the fashion industry itself. I hope to design with full product life cycle in mind and to educate consumers, promote traditional craft, and create better workflow tools for producers.
I have been learning to draw since I was a little girl. My mother used to be an art teacher, and she used to teach me how to draw. When I was in primary school, I liked to watch Japanese animations and I always paid a lot of attention to the characters, their clothing, and the color of their clothing. That’s when I knew I liked fashion design. I began to copy fashion figures from fashion magazines. I would also watch a lot of different fashion shows on Vogue.com. After I graduated from high school, I applied to FIT and Parsons.
I like fashion design and fashion illustration very much, and I think about becoming a fashion designer and fashion illustrator. Nowadays, many people use computers to draw figures, but I think hand drawing is an art.
I have always been interested in science and art. I was raised by a doctor father and a painter mother, and in high school I studied science. But I was never satisfied. I would spend my time drawing, and I always loved to dress up. It was the easiest way to express myself. When I started college, I heard about the ITU-FIT fashion design program. Experiencing new cultures inspires me, so the most attractive part was that the program was at the center of the world where different cultures meet.
I never stop learning, and when I learn from people or books, I feel the need to create. What makes me special is that I combine my mind and feelings to create designs that are useful and aesthetically pleasing. I follow the trends to keep my aesthetic taste fresh, but still follow my own style, which is my heart.
Queens, New York
I am a twenty-two-year-old fashion design student from Queens, New York, completing my BFA in sportswear here at FIT. I wanted to study fashion design because the craft intrigued me and it was something that seemed quite foreign to me at the time. Enrolling at FIT and receiving formal training has enabled my interests to grow and my tastes to develop and evolve. Fashion is such a rich medium of expression that can be manipulated onto the human form. There are so many components embedded in design that present endless creative possibilities. I chose sportswear as my specialization because I find it to be the most accessible and adaptable for women in their contemporary lifestyles. My design aesthetic is tricky to pinpoint because it is constantly shifting. Currently, I find myself repeatedly drawn to utilizing menswear details in women’s wear, and I often draw inspiration from objects in nature.
Union, New Jersey
I learned how to sew at a really young age and that was when I first developed an interest in fashion. Later on in high school, I would make a lot of my own clothes and people liked what I made and would ask me to make clothes for them, too. The fact that my friends responded so well and I could sell my creations made me realize I could do this for the rest of my life. I would describe my aesthetic as free-spirited and feminine with a California-glam vibe. I like to use soft color palettes and relaxed silhouettes. I chose to specialize in sportswear because it’s what people live their everyday lives in. It makes me really happy to be a part of that.
Queens, New York
I never felt like I had a choice. It just seemed natural to want to translate my ideas into fashion. From the moment I used a sewing machine and remembering how fascinated I was to see my creativity come to life, that’s when I knew fashion designing was home for me. What makes me unique as a person and a designer is that I’m not afraid to get personal because I find inspiration through life experiences. I chose sportswear because the fabrics, technical creativity, and freedom of design really caught my attention. I consider myself to be a minimalist designer. Sleek, simple shapes in a monochrome, toned-down palette is what I’m about.
Marlboro, New Jersey
Ever since I was little, I always dreamed of doing something in the creative field when I grew up. I loved to draw, paint, and sew and dedicated all my free time to enhancing these skills. When I wear clothes that make me feel good, it gives me the courage to go out and do good. As a designer I want to design clothes that give women the same confidence that an amazing outfit gives me. Sportswear consists of designing everyday clothes that women can wear casually—to work or out for the evening with friends. As a sportswear designer I want to combine the luxurious look of high-end clothing with the comfort of everyday clothes. Overall, my design aesthetic is focused on making high-quality pieces that are feminine, chic, and poised, yet still playful.
Miami Beach, Florida
Originally from Miami, I was always interested in the fashion events that took place during Miami Beach Fashion Week. My interest pushed me to enroll in a specialized design high school, where I developed my passion for fashion design and chose my career path at fourteen. It was because of my high school that I pursued a career in fashion, and it is the Fashion Institute of Technology that has given me the opportunity to better my skills and push me to discover who I am as a designer. I chose sportswear as my specialization because I think it gives me the opportunity to explore different types of fashion design, from performance wear to evening wear, and it doesn’t confine me to one section of design. I consider my aesthetic to be edgy/feminine, and I use a lot of different fabrics in my designs, like leather and chiffon.
Wilson Medardo Santacruz
My fashion journey started late because I stopped going to school for a while. I had never studied fashion before FIT and moving to New York was the beginning of my life. I used to walk the streets of New York and see beautiful women dressed up for Fashion Week. That was my inspiration to become a designer—not a designer: a maximalist creator. I think sportswear was my best choice for a specialization because it taught me how women’s bodies work and really helped me to enhance my skill. I think you have to understand the construction of the garment: if you understand the construction of the garment, you can make anything, like evening gowns, sportswear, knitwear, and haute couture. After I decided to pursue this journey, I dreamed a lot about one day becoming a great fashion designer. I want to make this dream a reality.
San Francisco, California
I have been sketching my whole life. It was a hobby for the longest time before I realized it was also a passion. I was encouraged to pursue fashion design by my mother who also has a knack for sewing and design but was never able to pursue it herself. My first love was for evening and couture. My professors pushed me to be versatile and design outside my comfort zone, but I felt stuck and restricted to evening wear. I was put into the sportswear specialization my sixth semester at FIT and soon realized how much I truly enjoyed designing sportswear and experimenting with the phenomenon titled “athleisure” or “sport luxe.” By making a complete 180, I was able to get to know myself as a designer and unravel my personal style further. My style is clean, somewhat minimalistic, and above all, chic.
Cristina Ng Ng
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
When I was little I was not sure what I wanted to be. I used to watch anime and that made me interested in drawing. I spent most of my time drawing anime as a hobby. People would ask how I learned to draw and if I went to art school, and my answer was always, “I was self-taught.” My friends suggested that I go into architecture, but deep inside I was not sure what I wanted to pursue. One summer day I was helping out my parents in their business. My brother asked me what I was going to study because I was going to be in my senior year of high school. I told him I had no idea what I wanted to become. He knew what I was good at, so he asked, “What about pursuing a career in fashion design? You can use your drawing skill.”
Margarita Ng Ng
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
From a very young age, I was into drawing. I was good at arts and crafts in high school and I knew I wanted to study drawing, but I didn’t know what college major I was going to pursue. One day my older brother asked me what I was going to study in college, but I didn’t know the answer. Then he asked, “What about fashion? You like to draw, so why don’t you go for it?” It hadn’t crossed my mind to pursue a fashion degree, but I liked the idea. So I decided to come to New York to pursue my dream as a fashion designer.
Sang eun (Sang) Oh
Yong-in, South Korea
In a world overflowing with information, where we choose whichever “fact” we want to read from social media, I believe visual communication is the best way for me to understand society. I design because it is the only effective way for me to communicate to others—words, texts, and the number of “likes” will never do justice. To me, good fashion design isn’t something that stays stagnant; it is something that translates into any kind of art and affects anyone walking on the street. I chose sportswear to learn how to make all genres of garments in a wearable but creative way, and to eventually use these skills for costumes on stage (because what we call “costumes” on screen and on stage should not be just Marie Antoinette gowns! They reflect what we wear). My designs tend to include detailed seams and odd color combinations, often influenced by Belgian designers.
From a young age it was clear I excelled in the art of using glue sticks and threading a needle. After three years of home ec in high school, it was clear I was destined to be either a housewife or a fashion designer. Luckily, I got into FIT. I strive to design clothing with a sense of humor and a splash of color. I enjoy long runs by the sunset and frantically sewing deep into the night with the moon as my only light. After four years at FIT, I brace myself for the future ahead with a smile as my most fashionable accessory.
Queens, New York
My affinity for the art of fashion has roots in my growth as a young person. As a child I admired my paternal grandmother who worked in the fashion industry as a lingerie designer. After her passing, this mode of creating seemed to make sense to me as I began experimenting with my creativity and personal style. My decision to pursue a career in the fashion industry started after a fashion design class I took in high school. It was my first experience creating garments amongst peers for a collaborative presentation; I immediately responded to the environment and found it motivating. I consider my designs to be authentically fashionable and not tremendously trend driven. I wish to contribute to creating a sense of self in others rather than a sense of wearing a brand or trend. In my opinion designs are successful when the wearer feels like an individual.
Horseheads, New York
Fashion and art have been my passion and life goal since I was ten. I’ve always been a go-getter, even as a young child, therefore my whole life has revolved around accomplishing this dream. Art and design were there for me during a very dark part of my life when I was teenager. I consider them to have actually saved my life, and they are why I’m still here today. My favorite part of designing is the innovative thought behind it. How a garment works and the functioning behind it are the most thought-provoking parts of activewear design, and are what I love the most. If you look closely at my designs, from the beginning there is always something innovative, whether it’s a different button placement for comfortability or the placement of a special pocket. After all, fashion isn’t only about how it looks, but also about how it works.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a child, I was always drawn to design. I would watch home remodeling shows instead of cartoons and rearrange all the furniture in my house. I went to Design and Architecture Senior High School, but found I didn’t have the patience for architecture and fell in love with fashion design instead. From then on I developed my own process of design. In combination with my degree, I have interned at Sea New York, Adam Lippes, and Altuzarra. These experiences have taught me about the fashion industry from different perspectives, and to use creativity in new ways. I thrive in a fast-paced setting and embrace new working environments with enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. I enjoy designing all aspects of sportswear. My unique thought process results in diverse silhouettes and fabrications. I embrace conceptuality in my work and aim to make striking clothing.
Deer Park, Long Island, New York
I entered the fashion design world for the simple reason of hoping to create designs that make every woman feel comfortable, sexy, and confident. My first choice was intimates; I’ve been a big fan of pin-up for a good portion of my life and what I admire about it is how classy the sex appeal is. Now being in sportswear, I try to add subtle touches of sensuality to my designs. I prefer to go with simple silhouettes and then focus on the details to make the garment pop, whether that is embroidery, seams, beading, lacing, or some other detail.
New York, New York
my name is frederick rasuk. i’m twenty-four, born and raised in new york city, uptown to be precise. growing up in a rather ghetto neighborhood heavily influenced by drugs and violence, design was never something I considered being part of. what formed my interest in design was my concern for the what and why of things being created around me. i chose sportswear because of its capacity to express. my work is not something practice with the expectation of being accepted or hired but rather an exercise i engage in to extend my means of expression, influenced and inspired by my experiences on the different sides of broadway throughout the city—a mixture of the uptown culture with the downtown understanding. (you may notice most of my writing is in lowercase letters. the reason is that i believe one must eliminate structure to achieve full capability of oneness and expression.)
When I was a child, I used to draw on the walls. Growing up with a mother who was a writer and filmmaker, creativity was definitely encouraged. I happily took almost every art class that was offered in my small university town. As I grew older, I became increasingly interested in textiles, and by thirteen, I started to make, alter, and embellish my own clothes by hand. I was determined not to dress like the other kids at school, and I definitely accomplished that! After graduation, I took the big leap and moved across the country to New York, entering FIT when I was seventeen. Since being here, I have discovered my passion for contemporary women’s wear. My goal is to create wearable clothing that celebrates a woman’s femininity and exudes confidence and power. Hopefully, my time at FIT will be a stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities.
Vanessa Rios Batista
São Paulo, Brazil
Unlike most of my colleagues, I didn’t know I was going to pursue fashion design as a career when I was younger. However, being an observant person, I’d always pay attention to what people wore and try to correlate that to their personality.
My family is pretty traditional, and I grew up thinking I should follow a “safe” path. I decided to study psychology, but it was a struggle because I couldn’t “find myself” in that area. My thesis was about why people seek professional help to build an image, and how fashion plays a big role in that process.
After graduation, I worked in personal styling and fell in love with fashion. I decided to change my career direction. It was a big move, but I am happy I had the courage and the support of my family to make this change and do something I love.
Brooklyn, New York
I began my journey to become a fashion designer after I finished a career in classical ballet. It was through this transition that I realized that my ballet background had inspired my interest in fashion based on the human form and conceptual thinking. My dance experience has given me a unique understanding of the interaction between clothing and movement and the transformative effects that clothing can have upon an individual. I hope to be able to design for performance arts and especially for the ballet. In this realm I hope to be able to have an international career and work innovatively with various art forms.
San José, Costa Rica
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an urge to create and build things with my own hands. When I was a little girl, I used to have a lot of dreams that intrigued me and I wanted to turn those dreams into art. This art resulted in my making dresses out of unconventional materials and creating recycling campaigns. My aesthetic is influenced by the motto: “Create something new and beautiful out of what people would consider trash.” It has opened my mind creativity-wise in ways I couldn’t have imagined and has changed my perspective on the possibilities of fashion and how garments can be created while also saving the environment.
I love creating and designing because being creative gives me the opportunity to share my soul. It doesn’t matter to me what I create; it can be a piece of clothing or a spoon. It’s all about the self-expression. The best part of fashion design is its wearability; fashion is one of the most effective ways to show your attitude toward life and style. The flow and cycle of life inspire me a lot. Life and nature represent a perfect mechanism, and I am also trying to create perfection. I like to merge different materials and styles in the most elegant and comfortable way possible. I chose sportswear design because we spend most of our lives in sportswear, so I can share my designs with larger masses of people.
Azua, Dominican Republic / Bronx, New York
I wanted to be like my grandmother growing up, which led me to pursue this career. I have survived every stage of my life thanks to my love for fashion. I survived severe bullying and many relocations to safer places. I have lived in environments where I had the opportunity to see poverty and extreme wealth at the same time, facilitating my awareness of how global politics function.
I have developed a style that breaks from the norm and takes inspiration from what I see and live every day, giving a voice, through my work, to those marginalized under the oppressive system of this world. My aesthetic is avant-garde and rebellious, with the main goal of breaking gender, social, political, class, and sexuality norms. I want to break the chains that unconsciously and consciously enslave us into a system that isn’t what we identify with.
Woodmere, New York
I always considered myself an artist. All I wanted to do as a child was draw, paint, and create. As I grew up I found myself more and more fascinated by fashion. The daily self-expression was something that sparked my interest. I want to create clothes for the masses, that many people can enjoy and relate to, while keeping it on a personal level. Everything has its superficial layer; however, it can be interpreted on deeper level. By choosing sportswear as my specialization, I can create for several different markets and customers, using a simple color palette, but with a feminine feeling throughout. My personal aesthetic I would describe as dark and feminine.
Okushiri Island, Japan
Growing up on a small, isolated island in Japan, drawing and helping my grandmother sew were my whole life. Curiosity has always been with me; hence, the decision of exploring the fashion world outside of my small society came naturally. I realized there are places that need change in society and that fashion has a big influence on the economy. I set upon a mission to contribute to improving social issues with the power of fashion. My designs are driven by current social issues and the psychological appeal of my designs. My aesthetic is about harmony. My inspiration for garments is often from menswear. Combining structural shapes with unique fabrication, detailing, and the consideration of their movements is representative of human psychology: delicate fabrics are for our naïveté and bulky shapes act as our secureness.
Ozan Can Sen
My name is Ozan Can Sen. I am from Turkey and I am studying sportswear design. Reading comics was an interesting hobby of mine which led me to drawing them myself. After taking painting and illustration classes during high school, I came to realize that I focused on drawing garments. When I traveled around Europe, visiting museums and art galleries made me ask myself, “How can I become a part of the art?” and “How can I reach out to society in my own way?” The answer was very simple once I saw the designs of John Galliano, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, and Alexander McQueen. What makes those designers different from others is that they don’t just design to make money, but design for people and to create culture. Therefore, I will consider myself a designer if I can create or become a part of culture.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Leeron Skurnik is a New York City based designer with a passion for color, print, and texture. Her Israeli heritage is shown in the exciting details of her designs.
Leeron translates design concepts in a light and sassy way that is always feminine and bold. She takes risks and likes to challenge herself, experimenting with new materials and techniques, such as 3D printing and no-pollution nano coloring.
Leeron is known for her Photoshop and Illustrator skills and she creates beautiful art with her computer, but her technical ability does not end there; innovative pattern making is incorporated skillfully into her designs.
San Salvador, El Salvador/em>
Studying fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology has opened my eyes to the technicalities of fashion and design. Looking at fabrics and understanding colors and concepts was something I found I enjoyed. I was able to transfer this knowledge to actual designs, and as a result created an A-grade standard collection for my final assessment. There are numerous designers that I admire, and my preference changes with each season’s new collections. Commes des Garçons and Viktor & Rolf are my current favorites, as I feel they keep coming back with new and interesting ideas and fresh designs.
Creativity and an interest in fashion have always been a part of me. I have always been heavily involved in art and creating. My grandma was a seamstress and she exposed me at an early age to creating and fashion. I threw myself into fashion with little to no hesitation. I realized fashion design was a great tool for creating something useful. Because what you wear is not just clothing—it is also a way to express your emotions and lifestyle by showing them on your body. When designing, I mainly use my artwork for inspiration. Contemporary art is a part of my aesthetic. I also like contradictions and playing with proportions. As far as my design philosophy, I want to be a designer who makes clothes that people who are mainly interested in art can easily feel excited and special about wearing because the clothing itself is like artwork.
Mahwah, New Jersey
My grandpa taught me how to sew after he bought me my first sewing machine when I was twelve years old. He was a tailor and opened up his own shop after he moved to America from Italy. I was always fascinated by his trade as a kid, and as soon as I gave it a shot, I realized how much I enjoyed sewing. I began taking precollege classes at FIT for sewing, which exposed me to the world of fashion.
Throughout my studies at FIT, my aesthetic has become more refined. I like to elevate a design by combining hard, rough textures with something more soft and feminine. Because my family is very important to me, I tend to draw inspiration from them, as well as from personal life events and experiences that help me create strong connections to my designs.
I have loved art ever since I was a kid. My mom went to fashion school as well, and she has influenced me a lot. She has always encouraged me to do what I love, and what I love is designing and making clothes! I chose sportswear design because I think sportswear is the most wearable and trendy clothing these days. Fashion is something we deal with every day so I think designing clothing that is wearable is really important. I love simple designs with unique details in them. In my opinion, little details are the most important part of design.
Queens, New York
I began designing simply because I liked to imagine outfits I wished I could find in stores. Fast-forward to now: I’ve specialized in sportswear generally because the fact that you can see someone wearing your clothes at any moment is so rewarding.
However, I also chose sportswear because I believe there’s a lot of creative freedom in what you can do. You can pull aspects from other categories and flip them into something new, which relates to me personally because I am influenced by many different areas. I like to consider myself like a music playlist full of genres that someone put on shuffle. The mixture of different ideas can produce something great that no one would have expected, and that is how I like to design. My aesthetic displays that concept, but it is brought together overall by my normal edginess and street flare.
East Northport, New York
What I love about fashion design is that clothing is wearable art. I got into fashion design because I was always trying to find a creative outlet, and getting to design something that is wearable was always so interesting to me. I love to take inspiration from everything around me, whether it be from travel, nature, art, or taking inspiration from right here in New York City. I like to design clothes that flatter the female figure—clothes that are simplistic and sophisticated that any woman could feel confident wearing. I chose sportswear because I really want to design swimwear and active sportswear. What I love so much about swimwear and activewear is that it can be equally as functional as it is beautiful.
My interest in art began at home, as did so many significant and precious aspects of my life. My perception of visual art and aesthetics evolved as a result of how I was raised. In their own ways, both my parents instilled a sense of aesthetic quality in me. Their taste and style shaped my perception of textiles, design, and aesthetics.
I went beyond the inspirations of home and took lessons in a private art studio where I developed my skills and vision even more. Every single piece of art that I’ve created in the art studio has eventually turned into a fashion piece. With my art studio instructor’s help, I decided to combine my childhood interest in textiles with my aesthetics to create fashionable garments. It was there that I confirmed my desire to live a life and succeed in a career as a fashion designer and artist.
As a child, I first discovered my love of fashion through vintage/antique shopping. Being able to individualize my style in a typically uniformed environment gave me an outlet to express myself. I spent my spare time studding vintage motorcycle jackets and cutting up 1970s dresses. When I learned to sew, I began making my own garments from scratch. Ultimately realizing that this could flourish into a career, I set my goal toward attending fashion school in New York City. My designs are organically feminine, juxtaposed with dark themes. I enjoy mixing soft fabrics with hard details, such as black mesh, rope, or metal grommets. My designs embody softness but at the same time embrace the dark side of life.
Since I was little, I was always involved in my parents’ business, which is related to the fashion industry. I was exposed to fashion since I was young and going to trade shows made me love fashion even more. Also, I lived in different countries and it always fascinated me the way people dressed in each culture. I decided to become a designer because I love to express my ideas and emotions through clothes. I chose sportswear as my specialization because I like to design clothes for everyday life. I consider my design aesthetic to be very feminine and edgy.
Waking up in the morning on the first day attending FIT felt like the beginning of my personal biography book. I’ve always loved design; it’s magical when everything comes out the way you had imagined it in your creative brain—the satisfaction and the chemistry between you and your creation are always exciting. Four years later, I remember the day when I promised myself to continue doing what I love and to keep moving forward. I’ve filled up so much in my own biography book these past four years; this is the best treasure yet. The Fashion Institute of Technology has taught me so much, and will continue to encourage me to pursue what I love in the future.
From the time I could remember, I have always been interested in fashion. I have been taking garments apart and reconstructing them since the age of seven when I learned to use a sewing machine. I love the fact that as a fashion designer, I can explore color, texture, and shape and play with proportions to express myself in my design. Also, I love that fashion is more than just an art form—throughout history fashion has played a great role in society. A well-constructed garment should always make the wearer feel empowered and confident. I love sportswear that has bold colors and geometric shapes, and I love mixing it with a hint of evening wear element.
Rockaway, New Jersey
I design to express what I can’t formulate into words. Designing allows me the opportunity to make statements without speaking. I’m passionate about creating concepts and researching. I like to present innovative ideas or technology in my collections. It’s important to make more than just a nice garment. Design is for disrupting what we know while enhancing our lives and making them easier. I consider unusual silhouettes and manipulations in my designs; I think this makes me stand out. I usually begin my creative process with tons of fabric development and creative draping. I chose sportswear so I could study activewear and technical outerwear. Although my garments may not be activewear, I think it is extremely important to be both technical and creative. My aesthetic is an elegant, conceptual twist on sportswear. It is minimal, while abstract. I always incorporate functionality and play with exaggerated shape without following the trends.
Since I was very young, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I’ve always used design as a form of communication through art. I chose sportswear as my specialization because I feel it has the most opportunity for expanding designs while still focusing on wearability. I try to create clothes with a story behind them, with depth. I also try to design with the wearer in mind, imagining how the clothes will move and function throughout the day and how they will affect the person wearing them. Each piece has specific details, either for aesthetics or for functionality, but no seam goes without thought.
Once I reached high school, I began to play golf and realized I had a passion for it. However, golf clothing did not quite match my spirit. All that was offered for women at the time were pastel polos and a couple of skirt options. If I wanted bright colors, a pair of golf pants, or a jacket to play in, I had to go over to the men’s and boy’s departments. I had no trouble with doing so, but it made me feel like women had been put aside in the sport. Although my major is in sportswear, I put an emphasis on activewear in my designs as I feel we need more variety. I tend to vary my color palettes so there is something for everyone, and I also play with the curves of the body in my design lines.
There wasn’t a moment when my mom didn’t find me in the middle of a doodle, cutting, weaving, experiment, dissection, etc. She uncovered my passion for art in my early years and sent me to some of the best design schools to explore it. Initially, I didn’t acknowledge these to be talents or that I would ever become conditioned to pursue design. I simply found joy in sketching people in different settings and, from head-to-toe, they always looked well suited for the occasion. Art challenged me and my perspective of the world, and continues to do so. I always feel the need to respond: to express by my own means while concentrating on the things that matter—details, processing, finishes—whether it’s merely aesthetic or if it’s for practical purposes.
Seoul, South Korea
I love fashion. It is my passion. As a designer I spent half of my life in Korea and half in America and as a result, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to and inspired by both cultures. These two cultures are naturally represented in my designs. I find joy in the design process of bringing together inspirations from various sources that do not yet have a definite concept, form, or shape and creating a cohesive collection. My design philosophy is to create wearable and sustainable pieces that the everyday woman would want to wear. Both sustainability and authenticity are key aspects of my design. I want all of my designs to be timeless and of high quality so that they last and become an essential part of someone’s wardrobe.
For me fashion is an international language. I was born in the United States and grew up partly in Germany, the UK, and Turkey. In London, the Royal College of Arts organized a student art exhibition for cancer research called “Joung Art 2008.” One of my pictures received an award. I had never won anything until then, so being selected was astounding to me.
When my family lived in London, my sister studied fashion and merchandise management at the University of Westminster, and I had my first real contact with fashion. I started watching the runway and catwalk shows of different designers on television. Discussions with my sister and her friends gave me the chance to take a deeper look at fashion. My time in London fed my hunger for and interest in fashion, especially the style of the Londoners, which gave me creative ideas every day.
Seoul, South Korea
Fashion is the best medium for expressing myself. I enjoy challenging tasks and thinking of new ideas. One of my assets as a designer is being able to see things with a fresh eye and a different perspective, allowing me to capture the various aspects of things. As a fashion designer, my focus is on designing emotional fashions. My aesthetic is luxurious, practical design. I want to show the diversity and creativity of my ideas and share my clothing designs with people around the world. I believe that anyone with a discerning eye will see the value of my designs. The hard part will be feeling satisfied with my designs myself.