As the fashion world descended upon New York for the Spring 2020 Fashion Week, two University of Arizona students were treated to a one-of-a-kind educational experience—a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry, complete with exclusive access to select runway shows, panel discussions and networking opportunities with industry leaders.
The opportunity was a product of an exciting collaboration between the Collegiate Licensing Company, a part of Learfield IMG College, the University of Arizona Trademarks & Licensing and the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, which brought together more than 20 students from 12 universities for an intimate look at the big business behind the iconic New York Fashion Week.
The experience was a dream come true for Brenna Doyle and Kami Strander, both undergraduates in the Retailing and Consumer Science program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Ever since I was little, I would find the looks and shows from NYFW on live streams, through magazines, from influencers, on WGSN, or on designer websites just so that I could try and feel like I was there watching them,” Doyle said.
“When the lights turned down and the music started to play, I felt an overflow of excitement. The shows were amazing and to top it off, we also went backstage and heard from those that help make NYFW happen, from how they prepare for the shows to what it takes to make everything work smoothly.”
Beyond the Runway
As part of the Retailing and Consumer Science program, Doyle and Strander explore the complexities of the $25 trillion global retailing industry, including cutting-edge research in consumer behavior, as well as retail strategy, management and operations.
Outside of the excitement of prestigious designer runway shows, Doyle and Strander were given the opportunity to see their retailing education in action with a tour of Champion’s New York design studios. There, they met with Champion’s season trend forecasting and analysis team. The experience allowed Doyle and Strander to glean on-the-job exposure to the fast-paced retailing industry.
“Getting the opportunity to hear from trend forecasters at such a prestigious brand was an eye-opening experience that shed some light on future career paths that I was otherwise unaware of,” Strander said. “Their team was kind enough to show us the entire design process and how their research plays into the final product design.”
After leaving the studios, the two headed over to Champion’s SoHo store, where they were able to meet with the company’s customization team and design their own custom sweatshirts.
“Getting to learn more about the licensing process from Champion was the highlight of the trip for me, as I got to learn more about a side of the retail industry that I have not yet had the opportunity to explore as much," Strander said.
Getting to New York
To earn their ticket to New York Fashion Week this fall, both Doyle and Strander participated in a rigorous selection process. Each were given the task of elevating a campus department with a custom design that spoke to the department’s particular area of research.
Strander designed an ensemble to highlight the work of the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, while Doyle spotlighted the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research with a design created from entirely sustainable materials.
The competition, the most selective submission process in all of CLC’s multi-university program, was designed to expose them to real-world problems faced by the apparel industry.
With February’s Fashion week on the horizon, four new students are preparing for their own pilgrimage to New York. Doyle and Strander have one piece of advice for those following in their footsteps: make the most of the experience.
“Showcase your personality and drive through your project, whatever it may be. To those accepted, I urge you to connect with everyone you meet, including the other students from other universities,” advises Strander.
“You never know who can help you get to the next step in your career and building an expansive network is just the first step.”