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FIT Launches First Virtual Future of Fashion Student Showcase

While the pandemic has hampered in-person learning, for students at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, the show must go on.

On Wednesday, nearly 200 young designers from the school’s fashion design bachelor of fine arts program debuted their senior thesis collections at the school’s annual Future of Fashion showcase. While the event is normally produced as a full-fledged runway show, this year it was reimagined as a digital expose through a video celebrating the students’ creativity—as well as their resilience in the face of a global health crisis.

Featuring emerging talent from 42 countries across the globe working in concentrations ranging from sportswear, knitwear, and special occasion attire to intimate apparel and kids’ clothing, this year’s showcase includes digital portfolios of student sketches, photography and personal impact statements, all viewable online. The annual event is funded by a recurring $2 million gift from FIT alum Calvin Klein’s brand and foundation.

In the face of headwinds to learning and creating in a virtual environment, the current group of student exhibitors highlighted innovative techniques and bold themes influenced by this unique moment in time. According to FIT, students homed in on inclusivity, gender neutrality and sustainability as key drivers behind their visions.

“The energy and talent on display make it clear that what we are presenting is indeed the future of fashion,” Troy Richards, dean of the School of Art and Design at FIT, said in a statement. “While it would be preferable to see the original garments in person, our students have done a remarkable job of capturing these details on film,” he added, noting that many chose models and locations that brought their creations to life. “For fashion to truly be successful it must live in the world.”

“Many of the projects were created with recycled, repurposed, and sustainable materials,” added Sandra Markus, Fashion Design chair. “As these student designers bring these fashion-focused social justice issues to their future workplaces, FIT will continue to focus on supporting the core value of sustainability and inclusivity.”

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Markus told Sourcing Journal that FIT’s design curriculum is built upon a strong foundation of technical skills, providing a definite advantage “when Covid forced us into remote learning, allowing the students to work independently from home.”

“Our faculty is 100 percent committed to mentoring students, and worked tirelessly to help the students achieve their vision,” she added.

The creatives also benefited from virtually facilitated mentorship and feedback from esteemed designers serving as the school’s industry critics. Sophie Theallet, Megan Smith, James Thomas, Jussara Lee, Kobi Halperin, and Haidee Findlay-Levin represented the program’s sportswear experts, while Jessica Ly and Sergio Guadarrama provided insight into the design of special occasion garb. Stacey Tester and Victor Glemaud counseled the students focused on knitwear, while Erin Rechner lent her expertise to children’s apparel and Jane Woolrich took on intimates.

At the end of the semester, the critics named 12 standout students Critic Award winners including children’s wear designer Hawwaa Ibrahim, sportswear designers Jiashan Liu, Rian Core, Jingwen Xuan, Yitao (Esther) Li, Kerrigan Steger and Abraham Azamy, special occasion wear designers Ece Sena Ercanli and Natalie Rapallo, knitwear designers Saemi Jeon and Gabriela Villatoro and intimate apparel designer Lauren Starobin.