TMD students and faculty took a five-day trip to New York City to explore different sectors of the fashion industry. Photo courtesy of Shelby Kanski.

The University of Rhode Island’s Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design (TMD), held their first annual Fashion Study Tour in New York City over spring break.

TMD department professors Dr. Saheli Goswami and Dr. Susan Hannel planned and led the five-day trip and Hannel said that she and Goswami “worked together as a team.” This included guided tours and explorations of luxury fashion houses, upscale fashion retailers, apparel designers, merchandisers, sourcing houses and trend forecasting companies.

“Our alums working in New York City have stepped up, almost every visit we made was because of an alum,” Hannel Said.

Students also toured the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Networking events with URI alumni, current faculty from the College of Business and the Dean of the College of Business, Maling Ebrahimpour, were also spread throughout the week’s itinerary. This gave students the opportunity to meet with current industry experts and understand more about the fashion and business industry.

Students earned one credit for TMD 342 Fashion Study Tour, and course work was supplemented with the tours to the fashion houses ad showrooms. At the homes and showrooms, students networked and learned more about the individual companies and the fashion supply chain.

The program cost $1,285, which included accomodations for rooms, meals, transportation to and around New York City, excursions and cultural activities. Throughout the trip, students were graded on their attitude during the tours, professional manners and attire and will be writing an essay of a detailed outline of the trip and the companies they learned about.

Ten students attended the fashion study tour, composed of an array of years and majors, although the majority were junior TMD majors. Shelby Kanski, a freshman majoring in TMD, attended the trip and said that she would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who has an interest in the fashion industry.

“It was very well rounded with learning about the city itself, learning about the companies, and the fashion industry,” Kanski said. “Overall it was a really good balance of fun, educational and inspirational.”

Some of the fashion companies the students toured were Naeem Khan, Ann Inc., Copen United LLC, Greg Norman and Bergdorf Goodman. Touring these companies, the group was provided opportunities to see the industry from different perspectives which they would be unable to see any other way.

One of these opportunities arose at Naeem Khan where the group was guided through the designers luxury fashion house. Kanski said that she and her peers were able to see Khan himself sketching garments and his designs and dresses that have not yet been produced, or are currently in the process of being completed.

Kanski said that she and her peers seemed to learn the most when they toured Ann Inc. due to the fact that they had a large team of specialists and employees that showed the group many different aspects of the fashion industry in one place. Kanski described the team who gave the students the tour at Ann Inc. as all very personable and told the group their educational background, job and internship history and about how most people in the fashion industry jump around from job to job until they find their perfect fit.

Two URI alumni who now work at Ann Inc., Alexa Knox and Cielo Godden, helped Hannel with students seeing the different aspects of the industry at the company. “They brought in creative designers, technical designers, merchandisers, colorists, and production managers to speak to our students,” Hannel said. “Our students had the opportunity to compare the apparel product development for different categories and price points.”

“At Ann Inc. all of the employees said they jumped around jobs, but when they got to Anne Inc. they all stayed there,” Kanski said. “I’m not sure what it is about the company but they never wanted to leave and had come to the conclusion that it was the best company they worked for.”

Overall, Kanski said that she learned vital information about the industry, living in the city, and about herself and her future.

“Before this trip I had a set path with what classes I wanted to take, how I’m going to intern, and where and when I was going to study abroad,” said Kanski. “But all my plans kind of changed from this trip, in a good way.”