The Fashion Institute of Technology: Where Creativity Gets Down to Business.
A little intimidating, no? FIT is intimidating. The alumni, your teachers, your future peers, the projects you will have to do will all be very intimidating. I am not trying to scare you, but I am going to lay down some hard truths. FIT is hard. It is fast-paced, extremely physically and mentally demanding, and sometimes your self confidence will be shaken. The school demands excellence and the curriculum is designed to make you realize the importance of business in the creative industries. You will soon learn that very few can be the head designer of a couture house, or the top buyer for Saks, yet we all want to be that one who will make it. Students here are incredibly driven and hungry. You will meet people here who are full time students working on two minors while simultaneously holding up a job and an unpaid internship while also working on a prestigious contest (i.e. the CFDA Scholarship or the National Student Marketing Competition). We all want that next job, to take the next step and meet the right people.
Finding time to read for pleasure is not so easy for an FIT student, but I recently forced myself to get Simon Doonan’s recent book Asylum. (I haven’t finished it yet, but it is quite funny and I suggest reading it, especially if you want to get to know the more quirky stories about the fashion industry.) He titles one chapter “The Dream Crusher” and dedicates it to advice for students. He says that young people now are too focused on material and professional success while not honing their creative expressionism. Every kid who wants to get into the fashion business thinks that the only form of success is to open their own design house. I can attest this is true because I was one of those kids with stars in her eyes (and still am to an extent). When I came to FIT that was the dream. What type of fashion I was going to focus on, or who my customer was I had no idea, but I knew one day people would be buying my clothes. Then I went through two years of the design program and realized that opening one’s own design house requires incredible skill, impeccable timing,loads of money, and lots of luck. I decided I needed to broaden my education a little and switched majors to Fabric Styling (I will make a post about this in the future if you’re interested).
I’m not saying give up on your dreams, of course not! But FIT is a wake up call for a lot of students who come in with this grandiose vision of their future. BUT it is important not to let that vision become too dim. The stress and exhaustion coupled with self-doubt and sudden questioning of your life goals can lead to a block in your creativity! (I know this because it happened to me and it was one of the reasons I decided to switch out of the design program.) Doonan remarks that hopeful artists these days are lacking the “fabulosity” factor. Everyone who wants to be noticed has to make an effort to be noticed! Whether that means being a mysterious recluse like Martin Margiela, or the fashion and diva caricature embodied by the likes of Valentino and Karl Lagerfeld, there must be a persona, or a “brand” as people like to call it now. If there is one place you can go all out becoming a personality it’s at FIT. So, welcome. Be smart and informed, but also be daring and maybe a little bit nuts. Interesting will take you far.