Tag Archives: Contest


Until December 7, passersby of shoe addict heaven DSW on 34th Street will get a peek at this fancy footwear created by FIT students:

DSW shoes

Creativity meets value: FIT students’ shoes at DSW.

Over the past year, DSW, looking to nurture the next generation of accessories designers, sponsored a contest to design their dream shoe and boot; the top designs would find their way to store shelves.

“We didn’t specify the season,” says Cynthia Watson, director of merchandise initiatives at DSW, who organized the contest under the guidance of Debbie Ferrée, vice chair and chief merchandising officer. “We wanted to make sure the design was innovative but also commercially viable. We weren’t trying to hit a price point, but we wanted to make sure they would sell.”

About 30 of DSW’s buyers narrowed the 45 entrants down to 15 and then five finalists, who presented their designs to a group of the company’s executives in the spring. The winner, Sun Jeong Kang, Accessories Design ’12, took home $1,500; her Wallis Sandal and Sandy Shootie will sell for $99.95 at the 34th Street location and on DSW’s website beginning after the launch party on February 5.

DSW shoes

Two right feet: Sun Jeong Kang’s Sandy Shootie and Wallis Sandal.

It gets better. The Fashion Footwear Association of New York chipped in $10,000 to fly the five finalists to Ars Sutoria, the renowned footwear design school in Milan, for a 10-day intensive training.

Kang’s designs use basic colors but incorporate a variety of materials and textures.

“The sculpted heel isn’t your usual stiletto,” says Vasilios Christofilakos, Textile/Surface Design ’02, Fashion Design ’84, chair of FIT’s Accessories Design department, “and the trims flatter the woman’s foot, making it fun and empowering at the same time.”

But, he admits, all the finalists created gorgeous, wearable designs. “It’s kind of like Dancing With the Stars,” he says. “They’re all great, and someone gets an extra point because that’s the way it is.”


For its 40th anniversary, Carolee, the noted costume-jewelry maker, held a contest within FIT to design five collections that blend the classic, sophisticated Carolee look with a fresh, fashiony edge.

On Thursday, September 13, the winners convened at the Carolee counter at Bloomingdale’s to try on their designs. They, along with execs from Carolee, FIT, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and Nylon magazine, crowded into an aisle between jewelry cases and sipped prosecco, nibbled on macarons, and took in congratulatory remarks.

The five winners of Carolee's design contest

Carolee’s FIT Student Design Competition Winners from FIT’s Jewelry Design major, left to right: Palwasha Iqbal ’12, Prakshi Sharma ’12, Elyse Spencer ’13, Yoonji Choi ’12, and Christine Gonzalez ’13 (and Advertising and Marketing Communications ’99). (PRNewsFoto/CAROLEE)

“This store is about dreams and aspirations,” Joel Fivis, president and COO of Carolee, said. “We are very proud to have played a part in helping these students reach their aspirations.”

“The future of design is secure,” Karen O’Brien, vice president of marketing (and fellow FIT alumna), said.

Each winner received $1,000, and five dollars from the sale of each piece will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Carolee also sponsored a $2,500 annual scholarship to one Jewelry Design student. The first winner was Vanessa Marek, Jewelry Design ’13.

FIT students’ winning designs for Carolee. Clockwise from top left: Palwasha Iqbal’s Deco Jazz, Christine Gonzalez’s Bold Geometry, Yoonji Choi’s Peacock Blues, and Prakshi Sharma’s Heirloom Lace. Center: Elyse Spencer’s pieces. (PRNewsFoto/CAROLEE)

The winners were charmingly modest about their stunning works.

“I was afraid of these earrings. I didn’t think people wore earrings like this anymore,” said Prakshi Sharma, who flew in from India for the occasion. Her Heirloom Lace collection drew on the shapes that snake charmers make out of their snakes. “American style is simple and straight, but this is complex.”

Yoonji Choi based her collection, Peacock Blues, on the cockiest bird in the animal kingdom. “People will get a chance to feel like a prima donna on the stage,” Choi said. She brought in a splash of light blue to make the pieces feel younger and trendier.

The People’s Choice award went to Elyse Spencer, the youngest designer in the contest. The secret to her populist appeal? “My roommate Natalie got a lot of people to vote for me,” she said.