On Tuesday March, 19th afternoon, I was invited to review the portfolio projects of graduating Fashion Design, Product Development, Marketing and Merchandising students from FIDM here in San Francisco. FIDM offers accredited Master’s, Bachelor’s and Associate Degree programs in design and creative business. They work closely with local retail companies like Gap, Levi's, William Sonoma just to name a few. I have personally hired graduates from FIDM while working as head of design at Byer California (A local private brand manufacturer selling to leading retailers).
The final project review is a major milestone for these students as they spent majority of their time in school working on their portfolio to showcase all that they have learned and show off their creativity and understanding of the industry in which they are about to enter. I do remember in my own personal experience it was a nerve wrecking with lots of sleepless nights to complete my final garment and project while attending FIT in New York City.
For the students at FIDM, they conveyed such passion and confidence displaying and speaking about their projects. I was very impressed by the level of professionalism from them. A key theme that came up was the topic of sustainability. These students are very aware of the negative impacts the fashion industry has in the global environment and they want to impact change as they enter the workforce. Each project I have reviewed incorporated ways a brand can be socially responsible not only in design but in business practice. This thinking is right in line with all new innovative retail companies that are changing the face of the industry through mission driven models such as Everlane, Allbirds, Reformation, Rothy's and Amour Vert.
In addition to sustainability, the second common theme they featured on their project is the topic of equality and women empowerment. It was exciting to see daring new shapes in a career jacket that accentuates shoulders influenced by the 80's power dressing by student Zoh Hollinger. This was very in line with the new fashion start up Argent, a female career dressing brand focused on bright and bold empowering colors with lots of pockets for functionality. Hillary Clinton is a fan.
A gender neutral underwear concept by student Alexandria Massimino was refreshing to see this sector of the industry without labels and sexist undertones. This type of business model has been trail blazed by the brand, The fluid project from NYC. An entire store dedicated to gender neutral apparel and accessories.
Happy to say, I was impressed and excited to see these new students enter the industry with a mission to drive change for good! Bravo to the graduating students and the teachers who