Alumni Spotlight: Kit Scarbo, Fashion Design ’04


Christina “Kit” Scarbo (Fashion Design ’04), a Los Angeles-based stylist and costume designer, started her television styling career at E! News and spent many years as a costumer on Dancing With The Stars. She currently works for AMC and Comedy Central dressing famed comedian Chris Hardwick. Kit recently returned to New York City to conduct research at the Special Collections & FIT Archives for her second feature film, Cardinal X, which is based in 1984. It was great to meet with Kit during her visit to learn more about her FIT studies and the 1980s fashion gems she found in FIT’s archives.

Welcome back to FIT and congrats on your incredible work back in LA!
Thank you! It feels great to be back. Lots of memories.

Coming from the West Coast, tell us why you chose to study at FIT.
I wanted to attend a school outside of California. New York City seemed like the best place to study Fashion Design, and I liked the business background that FIT incorporates into the design curriculum. Also, the Polimoda program abroad was a big draw.

What would you consider most valuable about FIT?
The location. The ability to have a fashion education in NYC is incredible–as well as the international location in Florence, Italy. My two-year experience in Florence, Italy at Polimoda truly shaped my career. From discovering the most inspiring landscape, to the emphasis on couture techniques, to the friendships I made with teachers and fellow students which have continued until this day.

Was there a particular professor that had a lasting influence on you?
Professor Kim Coston at Polimoda was a huge influence on my concept development skills. She really opened my mind to a whole new way of seeing and designing. She was so passionate about the fashion industry as well, and lent an incredible sense of function to design concept without ever limiting fantasy. She also really engaged the students with each other, and we all learned so much from each other. It really celebrated the glory of education- being surrounded with other artists learning and growing, while having your ideas guided and curated by an incredible mind like Professor Coston’s.

That education has clearly come through in your work.
Definitely. I started my career as a stylist in Los Angeles, but my ability to sew, design, and sketch also allowed me to take jobs that needed specialized vision. It was formative for me to be able to execute my own vision on a dime at the beginning of my career because I didn’t have to outsource for custom builds or tailoring. This demonstration of skills on styling jobs eventually led me to be hired by directors for costume design.

So now you’re shifting into more film work. Tell us about your costume design gig on Cardinal X.
I am the Costume Designer for a new indie drama Cardinal X. The Director and Producer came to me for the film after seeing my first feature film G.B.F., directed by Darren Stein. G.B.F. is the new Clueless of sorts, a high school-based fashion film. I dressed a large ensemble cast in a colorful and exciting vision. Angie Wang, the writer and director of Cardinal X, saw my work in G.B.F. and my ability to dress a large cast in a curated vision and tapped me for the job.

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When does the film take place?
Angie has created her life story in this film, which pinpoints her college years in 1984 – 1985.

The costume work for that time period must be fun!
Totally. Angie has great style and there are many scenes that take place at clubs and college parties with characters from all demographics. Thus, Cardinal X will definitely be an extreme fashion film, much like G.B.F. These are some of my favorite shots from my research.


Looks like you’ve hit a treasure trove of 80s gems at FIT’s Special Collections and Archives!
Yes, I got so immersed in the archives. The resources are so incredible, I could have spent days there!

As a former Project Runway contestant, you are not one to shy away from a challenge! What are some of the challenges of working on this indie film?
Money! Money is always the challenge on an indie film. But it makes one very creative- so I look forward to the challenge. Also I am very adventurous so I love a challenge- which is how I ended up back in NYC at FIT to do research. I took a road trip- driving from Austin to NYC collecting the best of early 80s vintage from vintage shops and Goodwills, antique malls. In Little Rock, Arkansas, I bought nearly 75 garments for $120! Some vintage pieces even with tags still!

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Speaking of favorite things and fashion finds, what’s your…
Favorite item on your desk/workspace: Muji mechanical pencils

Most memorable costume design experience: Putting Clorace Leechman in a vynle jumpsuit for a peoples choice awards comedy spoof

Favorite film or show: TV show! True Detective

Describe your style in three words: Sci-Fi Rock Mystic

Can’t-live-without garment: Black Leather Jacket

Oldest garment in your closet: I have a navy silk velvet gown in my closet from the 1920s… it technically the oldest. Oh! I also have a Victorian blouse from the 1890s. But the garment I personally have owned the longest is a pink tee shirt from when I was l.

The next adventure: Shooting Cardinal X

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FIT Alumna Tanya Brown’s Social Media Tips for Creatives

Tanya_Brown4x4 - CopyTanya Brown (Textile and Surface Design ’97) is a graphic and textile designer and founder of the legging wear brand, Schatzi Brown. She incorporates watercolors, painted textures, hand drawn motifs, with digital collage techniques to create her patterns & illustrations, which have a Beachy Bohemian vibe.

As any business owner knows, Tanya recognizes the power social media has in her branding efforts. Through a plethora of channels, including FIT’s Behance and Etsy alumni groups, she reaches new audiences and tells her brand’s story. Tanya has published articles for various media organizations on the topic of entrepreneurship and social media, so we asked her to share her top tips on how creatives can use social media strategically to grow their businesses.

Be sure to join us for the upcoming alumni panel discussion, Behance: Gain Exposure for Your Creative Work, where she will offer great insight alongside other alumni entrepreneurs.

Tanya Brown’s Social Media Tips

Posting your work in the public arena and to social media can be a key component in your success as a creative professional. Whether you’re a fashion designer or fine artist or photographer, social media can help get you noticed, bring job offers, projects and create a following for your work. Before you decide to start uploading your work make sure you have these things in place:

Be secure in your voice and point of view.
Build up a good repertoire and variety of work that represents you and your talents before going public.

Pick a distinct name.
Make sure you have chosen a name, whether it’s your real name or brand name, that can be consistent across sites, especially for your main portfolio site. I design under the name Schatzi Brown. The word “Schatzi” is a German term of endearment, like sweetheart in English. My color color palettes and patterns are drawn from the world around me living on Long Island and through my many travels. I make sure that those aspects are conveyed visually across all platforms.

Also, consider carefully separating your personal SM from your professional SM, unless there is relevancy. For example, if you are a fashion blogger and you Instagram your outfits everyday, it makes sense that you are your brand. If you are a package designer, on the other hand, future clients may not want to see pictures of your beach vacation mixed with your work.


Lay it out.
Take pride in your body of work and decide how you’re going to showcase it. It’s important for artists and creatives to have a main website and then redirect people out to their social media from there. Behance can easily be used as a main portfolio site and is great resource for a more industry-focused audience. FIT Portfolios on Behance is a great way to get noticed by recruiters who are looking for talent out of FIT, for example. Another advantage to using a portfolio site like Behance is that you can show more detail and variety of projects that you wouldn’t want to mix in on your main website. I think it’s important to have both a main portfolio site and SM to help you network with other disciplines or collaborate on projects. The more your work is seen in different platforms, the more likely you are to be found by people you want to work with or connect with.

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The Channels.
Know the functionality of each channel you’re using. I will often get contacted for freelance work specific to textile design through Behance or my main website, but I am more likely to receive an Etsy sale which was driven from a Facebook post or an Instagram photo. I received a licensing deal from my work posted on Society6 and other offers from people who saw my work on Pinterest. Exposure can come from many different sources.

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Branching out.
After your main portfolio site is set up, choose one to two social media outlets at a time to branch off your main site and start building an audience. Adding too many social media outlets at once can be overwhelming and become a job in and of itself.

Flaunt it (in moderation).
We live in the age of self-promotion, so hashtag, hashtag, hashtag! At the same time, don’t over-post. Space out your posts so your audience has something to look forward to. Try to tell a story and be professional. There is an art to sharing just enough vs. over-sharing.


Pinner beware!
Once you take the plunge and put your work in the public arena, it is difficult, if not impossible, to take it back. Understand that by using SM to promote your work and portfolio, it will be open for praise, review, critique and possibly even stolen and your copyright violated. Familiarize yourself with basic copyright laws or image use. Do what you can to protect your work, most often the positive will outweigh the negative.

Join us for the New Media x Entrepreneurship Alumni Talk Series, where you can learn about different new media platforms to help your business thrive. Be sure to RSVP for the upcoming talk on Behance, where you can hear from alumnus and founding member of Behance Alex Krug (AMC ’04), textile designer Tanya Brown (Textile and Surface Design ’97), graphic designer Joe Vinci (Advertising Design ’10), and motion graphics designer Rachael Park (Communications Design ’12). 


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Ryan Moakley Named FIT Student Association Manager of Networking & Alumni Relations

photoCongratulations on becoming the FIT Student Association’s Manager of Networking & Alumni Relations! Tell us about this role.
It’s a newly created role in the association that aims to connect students with alumni and professionals in the industry through various networking events. My position is very similar to Leah’s position as VP of Alumni Relations; however, she is on the executive board and my position is on the programming board. Essentially, I was given a budget to create events on campus and Leah will be my partner in crime! We’ll be collaborating on many events, including the Alumni Shadow Program.

What made you interested in this position?
I realized how important networking is and how it can impact your career. I wanted to give students the tools and opportunities to create connections they normally wouldn’t have.

What are some programs you plan on organizing to connect alumni and students?
I’m extremely excited to have Professor Joel Ehrlich speak during the fall. He was one of my professors here at FIT. I know that students could benefit from hearing from him as well as other alumni in the industry. Alumni can volunteer by signing up here.

From a student’s perspective, how important is the role of alumni in students’ success?
The role of alumni in students’ success is critical. Many of my professors at FIT are alumni and have provided me with great insight and opportunities I wouldn’t normally have access to.

What’s your major and expected grad year?
I’m currently enrolled in Fashion Merchandising Management. I plan to matriculate into Advertising Marketing Communications for my upper division and graduate in 2017!

Why did you choose FIT?
I toured so many schools during my high school career. None of those institutions had a reputation or opportunities like FIT. I wanted to immerse myself in the industry and FIT was clearly the perfect place to do so.

What are some of your favorite courses and professors so far?
I loved Contemporary Retail Manager with Professor Oliveri, Introduction to the Fashion Industry with Professor Shapiro, Advertising and Promotion with Professor Ehrlich. These professors truly influenced and impacted my education at FIT. I’m so grateful for it.

Are you part of other organizations or clubs aside from the student association? Any summer internships or jobs?
I’m also the Industry Liaison for the Merchandising Society. I’m heavily involved in the Merchandising Society and Style Shop. Over the summer, I worked as a Client Relations Specialist at Kate Spade and interned at Target 10, a niche-marketing firm that specialized in integrated marketing communications within the LGBT community. It was such a great experience.

What do you plan to do after graduating?
After graduation I plan to stay in New York. I’m currently living in Brooklyn, and I intend on remaining there. I hope to work in fashion PR, marketing or social media.

What message would you like to share with students interested in getting involved in your alumni programming?
Don’t expect anyone to hand you success on a silver platter. Get involved and leave your own legacy!


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Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Flor, Advertising and Marketing Communications ’12

Ayurveda Treatment in India Retreat Rasa Ayurveda : Oil Bath for the head Shirovasti

Beauty Has No Boundaries:

A Q&A with Makeup Artist and World Traveler Stephanie Flor


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Since graduating, Stephanie Flor (Advertising and Marketing Communications ’12) has visited over 16 countries documenting beauty rituals and traditions from different cultures on her blog, Around the World Beauty. The blog’s audience is quickly growing, and Flor was just featured in Glamour magazine’s September issue. We caught up with Stephanie to hear about her career as a makeup artist and world traveler, her insight about definitions of beauty from country to country, and some of her favorite beauty secrets.

First of all, congratulations on your piece in Glamour magazine’s September issue!
Thank you! The Make Your Mark piece is very exciting for me, and I’m thrilled to inspire other female entrepreneurs with my story.

You have a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, with the launch of your beauty blog and your travels. Tell us about the mission behind Around The World Beauty.
Through my travels and blog, it is my mission to keep beauty heritage alive and support women in connecting with their beauty roots. If you want to learn about your beauty heritage, click the country and you’ll learn about traditions, beauty stories, and also DIY recipes that you can use. It’s all about the reader walking away learning more about their culture as well as other cultures and wanting to share the beauty.

Have you always had a passion for beauty?
Since I was 13, I’ve had this passion and dreamt of being a makeup artist. I love the business of beauty. I love the transformation and the artistry of my peers.

What about travel?
Travel came later in life when I read a book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The book taught me to live in the now, think big and go for it.

Did someone inspire you to bring your love for beauty and travel together?
George Francisco, my political science instructor at FIT, inspired me to see the world, to think about empires, to explore cultures. He’s a world traveler, too, and I admired his sense of freedom.

That’s awesome!
Yes, a lot of the stories I constantly talk about on my blog are things I learned in his class. Aliens, Pyramids and Napoleon Bonaparte. I could go on and on!

What would you say, after exploring diverse cultures, defines beauty?
Beauty in discovering your roots is what defines beauty. Beauty is felt when you accept yourself and your gift to the world. In these countries, the women embody who they are. Beauty is in the culture, rituals and staying true to their customs.

Skin moisturizing mud in Ecuador
Skin moisturizing mud in Ecuador

Have you come across a particular beauty method that is completely different from yours?
I love being dark. But in Asia, light is always in. It’s what women aspire to. Skin bleaching in the Philippines is offered everywhere. I was intrigued by a full body bleach that was marketed in salon windows.

What are your beauty practices?
I live for shampoo with Manzanilla as it brightens my hair and facials using avocado and papaya. Culturally, being Latina is all about confidence in your body so hitting the gym and feeling good is my main beauty practice.

What advice would you give to someone interested in launching a blog?
I would say find your niche, your voice and go from there. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it has to be consistent.

Getting Face Painting in Peru's Sacred Valley by a Quecha Tribe member
Face Painting in Peru’s Sacred Valley by a Quecha Tribe member

Favorite item in your workspace: My Bite Beauty lipstick in Brick Red. When I need a power shot!

Most memorable country you visited: Ecuador

Favorite beauty secret: Coconut oil everywhere-organic and unrefined

Can’t-live-without beauty product: Lashes, lashes, lashes and black eyeliner

Song to get the day started: “Let’s Go” by Calvin Harris & Neyo

The next adventure: I partnered with Curious on Tanzania, an African tour company, to create a specialized trip to Tanzania all about beauty. We will be searching for beauty in the Safari, to the peak of Kilimanjaro, and visiting the Serengeti Tribe to learn about their beauty rituals. I’m also traveling to Japan to learn about Geisha beauty traditions.

Favorite DIY beauty tip: Milk + Tumeric + Chickpea Powder = removes darkness around the eyes! Watch Stephanie’s how-to video.

Posted in Advertising and Marketing Communications, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management, Entrepreneurship | Tagged | Leave a comment

Leah Linnehan Named FIT Student Association VP of Alumni Affairs

leah linnenhan

The Office of Alumni Relations is pleased to begin working with Leah Linnehan, a first-year Fashion Merchandising Management student, who has been elected as Vice President of Alumni Affairs for the FIT Student Association (FITSA). We caught up with Leah and asked her about transferring to FIT, her community involvement, and her upcoming plans for strengthening the connection between alumni and students in the year ahead.

Congratulations on becoming the new FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs! How does it feel be a student body leader?
Thank you! It is such an honor to contribute to the student body at FIT and become the voice of 10,000 students. I’m excited to begin planning some events, connecting with alumni and hearing what students would like to see!

I understand you recently transferred to FIT. Tell us about that decision.
I began my college career at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a political science major. However, after a semester, I quickly learned that my one-credit course, Fashion, Media, Culture and Style, was where my passion was. I decided to leave UMASS and attended Middlesex Community College, where I graduated in May 2012 with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration. While searching for a school to continue my college education, I discovered that FIT would be the perfect fit.

Interesting shift inspired by a one-credit course!
Yes! Last fall, I started my one year Associates Program in Fashion Merchandising Management. Finally after three schools, I have found the one! I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in May 2016.

Are you in other organizations or clubs aside from the student association?
Aside from the FIT Student Association, I am involved with the Merchandising Society at FIT. This year, I am one of the industry buyers for the Style Shop!

How about outside of FIT?
I have kept myself busy with internships and jobs as well. I interned at the TJX Corporation as a retail management intern and at Cache corporation as a merchandising intern. This summer I taught a Fashion Design Summer Camp for a few weeks along with being a manager of an ice-cream stand!

That shows great leadership—well-suited for the role of FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs! Tell us why you wanted to take on this role.
My love for the school continued to grow, leading me to become more involved within the FIT community. One of the main reasons why I wanted to come to FIT is because of the success of the alumni. To take on the role of the FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs, I will have first-hand experience to connect students with industry related professionals along with hearing any insight or advice they may have for us. It is so important that we work together to connect alumni and students.

What are some programs you plan on organizing to achieve that?
I plan on organizing more events working directly with FIT clubs and your office. After hearing about the success of the Alumni Shadow Program, I hope to expand the program to get more students involved. I would also like to create more networking events so the students can create a relationship with the alumni.

What message would you like to extend to the FIT alumni community on behalf of FIT’s student body?
On behalf of myself and the FIT student body, I would like to thank the alumni community for contributing back to FIT and helping students with their future. Thanks for the devotion, dedication and inspiration! We hope to see you in the exciting school year ahead!

Interested in getting involved with FIT? Alumni can sign up here!

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Student View: Alumni Shadow Day with Sarah Hall, Advertising and Communications ’84

Sarah Hall and I!
Shadow Day! Sarah Hall and I!

Taking part in FIT’s Alumni Shadow Program was a great learning experience. I shadowed Sarah Hall (Advertising and Communications ’84) at her company, Sarah Hall Productions, where I had hands-on experience working on real life accounts. As an Advertising student, it was awesome to learn the process of PR that entailed researching, follow-up congrats, and meetings that involved future clients. One of the biggest take-aways from this experience is something that I learned from alumna Sarah Hall. She said in life there are many opportunities and, in order to be successful, you have to want it. If you want something bad enough, you have to put in the work and effort. Go to the decision maker, network and don’t burn bridges. She gave me incredible insight and advice, and I’m grateful to be part of this awesome FIT network! Check out my interview with her below!

Why did you choose FIT?
I went on a school tour and remember visiting a painting class, where Blondie was playing in the background. I remember thinking how creative the atmosphere was and how it really spoke to me. The students looked so happy and I felt good vibes. Of course, FIT sounded good on paper, but the tour blew me away.

What is your most memorable FIT experience or professor?
One of my professors, an illustrator, who would say to me, “Sarah, a color isn’t a color unless it’s next to another color.” She taught me to look at color in a different way. Also, just experiencing life on campus was one of the greatest gifts. Everyone was unique in his or her own way. The dorms were filled with life and so many different personalities. To be surrounded by so much creativity was the best experience.

How was the transition between graduation and starting your career?
It was an interesting transition. I had a plan. I told myself that my internship would lead to my first job, and this is exactly what had happened. I worked three nonpaying internships, plus three paying jobs all at the same time. I landed a dream job at Ford Models by going to the owner of the production company I was interning at to ask for help finding a job (unbeknownst to me, he was married to Lacy Ford) and I worked there as an agent for the next 7 years. I highly recommend going to the decision maker. Then I worked at the William Morris Agency (and met my husband there), went on the road with a popstar for a year. Came back and started my own PR company, Sarah Hall Productions, Inc., in 1994.

The Sarah Hall Productions, INC. dream team and I in NYC! And a photo-bomb, facetime cameo: Daniele’s magic trick from flats to sneakers!
The Sarah Hall Productions, INC. dream team and I in NYC! And a photo-bomb, facetime cameo: Daniele’s magic trick from flats to sneakers!

What’s a typical day like?
I spend all day signing new business, brainstorming, meeting with clients regarding their campaign, picking out head shots, introducing clients to managers to help further expand their brand. I also travel to LA and London, working red carpets and signing UK clients who want to be well known brands in America. Everyday is a different day.

Who are some of you clients?
Tony Hawk, a skateboarding icon. I’m very proud with helping build his brand from the beginning. He has a multigenerational audience. Gabrielle Bernstein, a two-time, New York Times bestselling author, and Kelly Clark, a 4 time Olympian as well as many others.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by giving voice to people’s creativity. I’m passionate about representing my clients. My kids are a big source of inspiration. As well as art and traveling.

What’s your favorite city?
London feels like home.

What is your best advice for students and recent graduates?
Few things: Go to the decision maker. Network and try to stay connected to everyone (it takes effort, I know!). Take the job that brings you closer to where you want to be- meaning that not every graduate will get his or her ideal job right off the bat, so be prepared to work your way up. The right opportunity can change your life! Remember to say thank you to the person who helped it happen!

The amazing SPH office, my desk for the day!
The amazing SPH office, my desk for the day!

To learn more about how you can participate in the Alumni Shadow Program, click here and make a difference in one student’s life!

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Words of Wisdom for FIT’s Newest Alumni

Toy Design 2014Last week, we were proud to welcome new grads to the FIT alumni community at the 2014 commencement ceremonies! Ushering in the new generation of leaders, commencement speakers Bobbi Brown and Christian Louboutin shared a wealth of advice and inspirational stories. Bobbi Brown, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, offered her “Five Pillars of Success” at the ceremony for the School of Business and Technology and School of Liberal Arts. Later that afternoon, Christian Louboutin, Founder of Christian Louboutin SA, emphasized the value of friendship and freedom at the ceremony for the School of Art and Design and School of Graduate Studies. Take a look here and please share your own words of wisdom for our newest alumni!

Bobbi Brown’s Five Pillars of Success

Brown blog1. Do what you love.  You already know what passion is. You guys chose FIT. Really smart. You can do anything.

2. More doing and less thinking.  That means go with your gut. If you always worry about what you want to do, you won’t do it.

3. Work hard, but work smart.  Always. Everyday. Nothing is handed to you. And nothing is easy. You are not owed anything.

4. Have no fear.  Don’t be intimated by adults. If you’ve earned a place at the table, take it.

5. Just be nice.  Now this is to yourself and to others. Not everyone in business, especially in our fashion business, is always nice. Get ready. Don’t take it personal. Kill them with kindness.

Watch Bobbi Brown’s entire speech.




Christian Louboutin on friendship and freedom

FIT Louboutin blog“Everyone told me never to do business with friends. Well, I started my company with my two best friends and 23 years later, we are still the three best friends… There is the freedom of joy and working, which I want, but freedom is different for everyone…. It’s freedom of creativity.”

Watch Christian Louboutin’s entire speech.

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Fashion’s Social Media Darling, OscarPRGirl, Gives Glimpse Inside the World of Oscar de la Renta

Erika Bearman, SVP of Global Communications

in conversation with

FIT Alumna Melisssa Lefere-Cobb, SVP of Merchandising & Sales

oscar3Oscar de la Renta Senior VPs, Erika Bearman and Melissa Lefere-Cobb, a Fashion Buying Merchandising 1995 graduate, spoke at FIT as part of the Faces and Places in Fashion lecture series. Lefere-Cobb has been working for the company since 2004, serving as Senior VP of Merchandising and Sales with a focus on all lifestyle products, including fashion jewelry, childrenswear and home. Bearman, known as OscarPRGirl, has been at the company since 2009 as Senior VP of Global Communications. She has garnered over 2 million followers across the brand’s digital platforms.

The two covered a range of topics, including the label’s branding efforts, storytelling on social media, the connection between an Instagram photo and sales, and much more. The interview was what Lefere-Cobb referred to as her “Oprah moment,” carrying a funny, lively, girls-brunching tone that kept students and alumni in the audience fully engaged–all could be heard oohing and aahing at the slides and many were live-tweeting the very quotable fashionistas. Get a glimpse inside the world of Oscar and watch the video below!

“The voice was easy to figure out because it’s me as a storyteller or tour guide.”
-Erika Bearman


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The Coming of Casual

By Deirdre Clemente, M.A., Museum Studies ’04

Historian, FIT alumna, and author of Dress Casual: How College Kids Redefined American Style, Deirdre Clemente, talks about her own journey to casual style and the role FIT plays in shaping modern American fashion.

ClementeI came to casual by defeat. I simply could not pry and zip myself into uncomfortable clothes and stay in them for hours. In my twenties, my best friend chased down taxi cabs and potential husbands in three-inch heels. She slept in a thong. I tried to play the game for a while, but my six-foot-tall frame and profound appreciation for sweat pants won out. Instead, I chose cowboy boots and a pair of overalls that same friend said make me look like an oversized baby. For me, casual is not the opposite of formal. It is the opposite of confined.

Casual is about cobbling. Mix-and-match is a twentieth century thing. A hundred years ago, the closest thing to casual was sportswear—knitted golf dresses, tweed blazers, and oxford shoes. But as the century progressed, casual came to encompass everything from worker’s garb (jeans and lumberman jackets) to army uniforms (khakis, anyone?). Americans’ quest for casual has stomped on entire industries: millinery, hosiery, eveningwear, fur, and the list goes on. It has infiltrated every hour of the day and every space from the boardroom to the classroom to the courtroom. Americans dress casual.

From a historian’s standpoint, casual has shattered cultural standards that have existed for millennia. Personal appearance is no longer a steadfast delinieatro of class. Today, billionaires wear wrinkled button-downs, and the first lady dons Jamacian shorts. Casual has whitewashed gender norms that had required fashionable female silhouettes be held in place by stays and straps. Unisex is a pretty profound concept when you think about it.

FIT has been pivotal to my development as a historian of American fashion and as a purveyor of casual style. The sheer diversity of personal style on campus inspired me to dress down or dress up as inclination (and evening plans) allowed.

A proud graduate of FIT, I now watch from the sidelines, and sometimes wish I could give your many talented fashion bloggers and commentators just a little bit of a history lesson. FIT student Avanti Dalal’s commentary on the site is top-notch. Avanti’s photos capture all that is funny and fabulous about FIT’s fashion. Here’s a sampling of offerings, and a dash of history on the coming of casual and the role that college campuses played in that evolution.

Photo courtesy of Museum at FIT

The Letterman’s Sweater: Like boy bands and soccer shenanigans, sportswear came from England. The letterman’s sweater is the grandson of the yachting club blazer—a Cambridge/Oxford thing from the last decades of the nineteenth century. American Ivy Leaguers picked it up and stuck with the blazer for a while, but the more practical, more casual lettermen’s sweater replaced the blazer in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Originally, each team had their own version of the sweater from v-neck to crewneck to cardigan, but as the century progressed, the styles became standardized, and teams individualized the letter instead. The sweater lost its place of prominence on many college campuses in the mid-1920s when women and then high schoolers took to the garment.


Photo courtesy of Museum at FIT
Photo courtesy of Avanti Dalal, FIT student and College Fashionista contributor











Corduroy Pants: As this FIT student well knows, corduroy is both practical and comfortable, making it the perfect fit for casual style. Early in the twentieth century, corduroy was used for football uniforms at Princeton University, but University of California men took to the fabric and made it their own. Tales of their “dirty cords” were heard across the country and the unwashed pants marked out upperclassmen from the newbies.

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Photo courtesy of Avanti Dalal, FIT student and College Fashionista contributor

Women in Menswear: Shorts, tennis shoes, cardigans and oxford shirts—first worn by men but then stolen by women. In the mid-1930s, women at elite colleges in the Northeast (think Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley) started borrowing their boyfriends’ button-down collared shirts and Brooks Brothers crewneck sweaters. Next came jeans and pants, then sweatshirts and t-shirts. Today, unisex fashions have redefined American femininity and provided the foundation of the American wardrobe.

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Photo courtesy of Avanti Dalal, FIT student and College Fashionista contributor

Dr. Deirdre Clemente is a historian and curator of 20th century American culture, specializing in fashion and clothing. She is an assistant professor of history at University of Nevada Las Vegas. Dr. Clemente earned her MA in Museum Studies from FIT in 2004 and remains an active and proud alumna. Read more about Dr. Clemente at Learn more about Clemente’s book, Dress Casual: How College Kids Redefined American Style.

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Faces and Places in Fashion: A Peek Inside Intimates’ Industry

As part of FIT’s Faces and Places in Fashion lecture series, we were pleased to welcome graduates of FIT and other top leaders from the intimate apparel industry. The talk was moderated by FIT alumna Karen Bromley, Principal of The Bromley Group, and panelists included Victor Vega, EVP at Wacoal and President of UnderFashion Club; Victoria Vandagriff (FMM ’11), President at D2Brands; Barbara Lipton, Group Vice President of Intimate Apparel and Activewear at Macys Merchandising Group; Sonja Winther, President of Chantelle Lingerie; Tina Wilson, Creator of Control freak; Seth Morris, President and CEO of Carole Hochman Design Group; Clelia Parisi (Textile & Apparel Marketing ’81), Vice President of Product Development Merchandising at Macra Lace Company; Amy Bittner (Fashion Design ’11), Design Assistant at Moret Group; Maureen Stabnau, SVP of Merchandising at Bare Necessities; Alexandra Frumberg (Photography ’11), Founder of ALX Creatives.

The talk was live-streamed, which expanded our reach to many others who were able to chime in on Twitter with the hashtag #FITintimates. Following the Q&A portion of the talk, alumni, students and industry professionals enjoyed a networking reception hosted by the Office of Alumni and Faculty Relations. Check out photos from the event and watch the video:

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