Do You Stand For The Brand? (Alivia™’s Guide To Being Greater Than The Haters)

alivia-cooneyNew FIT class, new post! New year, new me!

For some of us, it’s more like “New minute, new me!”

It’s a silly concept that so many of us stay enamored with. We think that the changing color of a leaf means that it is time for us to change as well. Is this out of insecurity, or are we just trying to remain relevant?

Do you stay on top of your public image? Or do you go by an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of philosophy, making your persona as timeless as the t-shirt?

This Sunday’s Precollege class at FIT was centered around the concept of branding. What is a brand? Why do companies work so hard to establish a certain image or reputation through billions of dollars in marketing and promotion? Why do even the youngest of children know that the Nike swoosh means the person wearing it is “cool”? We watched a documentary on such “superbrands” and had an enriching class discussion to explore these questions.

The concept of the “brand” is a very controversial one. Many people are wary of the near monopoly certain brands seem to have on the market, at the expense of smaller businesses. Even more people worry about the literal brainwashing aspect of the phenomenon.

It’s not just in fashion, or even in food and other highly marketed, factory-produced products.

Since the rise of social media, branding has taken on a new meaning. Because we now have more direct control over our image than ever, everyone is obsessed with their aesthetic, persona, and vibe. Such attributes, which were once exclusively found in the moment, in interpersonal interactions, are now highly calculated. People realize that they will not be given a chance with anyone if their social media page does not line up with the person who they want to be, or who they think they are. It’s a very interesting growing phenomenon that is unique to Generation Z.

We can see this especially in celebrities, the best example being the Kardashians. They built an empire out of nothing but decent genetics and being in the right places at the right times. They then used branding tactics to expand their images onto TV shows, ad campaigns, clothing lines, makeup lines, and more. Everyone wants in on their gold touch, which is why so many people buy their products and “keep up” with them. I consider them to be superbrand superstars. They know how to play the game and win. Even the newest addition to the clan has been named Dream Kardashian; straight out the womb, brand already on point.

Love them or hate them, you know them. They have been drilled into your mind whether you want them there or not. You can probably name each of them, list their age orders, and reference some memes about them without so much as an “um.” Some people are resentful of this factor. This “forced” factor, in which people feel as though their subconscious is being invaded, has oftentimes turned public pedestals into social stakes.

Think of that person who’s more popular than you, or who simply gets more attention than you. You get jealous, right? It’s human nature. If an additional factor comes into the scenario in which you feel they are undeserving of such recognition, you have a recipe for pure resentment. Have you ever known a person that you have come to hate, even though they’ve never technically done anything bad to you personally? It was likely due to this “forced” factor. You were expected to be obsessed with them, and you weren’t, and it burned you inside. It is the same thing with celebrities. The only difference is that they are on a much larger public platform, so it is more socially common (if not acceptable) for people to voice their discontent.

As an aspiring artist, I’ve inevitably dealt with my fair share of criticism, particularly regarding the way I brand myself to the general public. After all, art is controversy. And the way I’ve developed my character? It’s art! My public relations technique took years of training through observation of everyone (taking the good and leaving the bad from each person) and researching others who I wanted to embody. Maybe it’s because I’m an actor, and being a chameleon of sorts is only natural to me. I don’t know. Nonetheless, in order for any craft to have meaning to anyone, it must first spark some strong reaction in someone.

Due to my acting career, I’ve had to grow especially thick skin in very short amounts of time. Whether it’s criticism of my weight (which I’ve since lost, and which is an example of applying constructive criticism), or someone not “getting” my jokes, or even a risqué costume that was beyond my control but necessary for the character, you can’t please everyone. I try to live by the mantra “Don’t try to win over your haters, focus your energy into impressing those who already love you.”

In a further effort to avoid wasting my time with the naysayers, I am learning to separate art from self.

For example, if someone criticizes a performance or an article I’ve written, or even just the way I carry myself and my personality (which took years of artisanal craftsmanship to develop), I accept their statement and move on with my life.

This was a hard balance to achieve, considering I take everything I do very seriously. There were times when I’d just sit and sulk over it. I even rejected the idea of this balance at first, since my entire brand was built initially out of more of a “Be yourself, and if people don’t like it, change” sort of philosophy. (I don’t debunk this statement completely, as it was necessary for me in a different way at an earlier time).

Then I realized my own worth. I began focusing more on myself in a way that actually wasn’t selfish; I started viewing my output as a more spiritual kind of thing. God (or your spirit guide, or your parents, or whatever you do or don’t believe in) gave me these gifts, and I have no right to throw them away. In a way, I’m more humble now. This balance was so necessary to achieve in order to keep moving and inspiring others through warmth. Because you can only be warm toward others when you are well-adjusted in yourself.

You cannot stop for people who ultimately don’t actually care and are just speaking to fill up time and distract from their own lack of hustling. In the wise words of Alyssa Edwards, “Don’t get bitter, just get better.”

It’s okay if they don’t know why you do what you do. As long as you are secure and truthful in your own intentions, you can do no wrong. Never. Your conscience will be clear and so will your skin.

You don’t need to be controversial for your art to have meaning. As a matter of fact, the shock value approach is often the worst from an artistic standpoint, as it encourages extreme vapidity and lack of purpose (often from the perspective of a maladjusted artist). The real key here that separates the good shock value-ers (known as artists) from the bad (known as capitalists, exhibitionists, exploiters, etc) is the intention of the artist. This creates even greater controversy, because how are we to know this? Still, for better or worse, if your art is controversial, it guarantees some sort of meaning. Even if the people are talking poorly of your work, they’re talking. And conversation is the key to progression. Even if you took the easy way out through shock value, as an artist, you did something.

You did something.

Are you conscious of your own brand? Are you aware of others’ opinions of your brand? Should you even be aware? Do you really even care?

– Alivia

Be your own Motivation

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Is it knowing that you have a party later where you can show off your new top? That your parents promised you your favorite meal for dinner? Or that you just have a good feeling about the day you are about to embark on? For me, it is success, knowing that if I don’t get up and start my day, I will get no where and accomplish nothing. Whether it be passing a big test or achieving my life goals, I get up and just do. As a sophomore in high school and getting my foot in the door to college, I have woken up extra motivated lately, having the opportunity to start thinking about how I will make it big and display my strive for success.

For me, the only way I believe I can carry out my dreams is doing what I love. So I look at my second inspiration, fashion. This is what brought me to FIT and what made me stay. The Precollege programs have allowed me to develop new skills and a new outlook that will shape my future in the fashion industry. I can not imagine myself anywhere else and the opportunities that have risen from my time here are very valuable. I also can not picture myself working anywhere but in fashion. Like many others, I hope to one day become a successful employee of a major company, and maybe even boss of my own company, and there is no way I can get to that level of achievement without my friends, family and FIT. Especially not without my incentive to get up and trek through the adventure leading me down the path to that fulfillment.

When employers and clients look at your past and see all the great things you have done in preparation for what you are about to pursue, they are made to believe you must have a strong passion for what you do, otherwise what are you doing here. Personally, I hope one day someone will notice not only that I took my preparation very seriously but that they see the time I took away from my weekends to spend in a classroom here at FIT and why I did so. Also that it was not because someone was forcing me, not because I was bored and wanted something to do, but because I wanted to be there. I want to be swallowed up by the culture of the city and FIT, and that I love what I do and have loved it for a very long time. So if it is something like fashion or success that motivates you why not start now, find something like the Precollege Programs at FIT to begin early and get ahead of the game. Along the way do not forget to get up and start your day with intention. Be your own motivation, be your own success, and be your own ambition until it becomes a habit.

 

-Faith

Want To Be Apart Of The NYC Community? Communicate.

alivia-cooneyIn the wise words of Kylie Jenner, this really is the year of us all just “realizing things.” Based on my personal experiences in the last year alone, which have culminated into this grand 2016 finale of being a part of FIT’s Precollege Program, I can say that the universe has thrown a lot at me in a very short time.

A major key that has been a running theme for me in recent times, which also happens to be a running theme in my class at FIT, is the necessity for communication skills. The ability to articulate yourself clearly and effectively is the single factor that can unlock any door, whether it be for social, creative, or business purposes. If you can’t control your words and self-presentation in front of live human people who also have thoughts and presences, then you will always be locked out and left behind.

I’ve always been better with writing words than speaking them. Up until eighth grade, I had about two social skills, and barely two friends as a result. There came a point where I realized I’d have to learn how to speak like an approachable, relatable human person if I wanted to go anywhere in life (especially in my field of interests, in arts and entertainment). So I spoke, and I haven’t shut up since! Human connection is rewarding. 10/10, highly recommend.

This past Sunday’s class specifically is what really inspired me to start thinking about the importance of strong public speaking skills. We had to present two Power Point presentations on a retailer and fashion icon, and their respective influences on the fashion world. I presented first, because I also was asked to speak about my blogging with FIT. I stood at the front of the room for literally about a half an hour. This was a challenge that I didn’t know I needed; I had to conduct class discussions on the spot, while keeping the principle of selling myself and my ideas at the forefront. I have a decent amount of experience in presenting myself to a large group from doing theater my whole life, but this was different. I couldn’t hide behind a character or gimmick, I had to be myself in a way that was engaging and inspiring. I was talking about subjects I’m passionate about, in front of girls who I’m all friendly with, yet this was still a foreign concept to me, nerve-wracking in the moment. It was honestly a humbling experience. It made me realize that I still have a lot of room to grow, and I’m grateful I now have this forum to do so.

Class discussions are the wheels that keep the class a-turnin’. Our professor is excellent at picking out specific insights and turning them into questions, sparking further discussion and debate. Given the fact that this is a business class, it only makes sense for the class to be fueled this way, given that it is preparation for presenting our ideas in front of, say, a product development team. Even if we do not go any further in the fashion industry, the public speaking skills we’ve learned can be applied to any profession in any industry. It’s life! People talk!

anigif_enhanced-1276-1452620361-2_preview

(reposted from buzzfeed.com)

What do you have to say?

-Alivia

The trip is worth it: Abigail, 5 hrs

abigailyoung1

From rural upstate New York to the big city. This is what I have been dreaming of since my first visit to the city when I was a child. It was always an exciting time when my parents said ”lets go to New York” we would get in the car and leave early in the morning and arrive in Times Square by noon. It would usually take anywhere from 4 – 5 hours to reach the city. I remember looking out the window and waiting to get that first glimpse of the skyline. I knew then that I wanted to be in the city. I was fortunate enough to attend my first Summer Precollege Workshop at FIT this past June. It was an amazing experience and led me to sign up for another this Fall. Attending these classes is a commitment. I must get from Ticonderoga, NY to Albany, about a two hour drive, and then take the MegaBus to FIT another two and a half hours. Many of my friends would ask why are you doing that? My answer was simple and easy. I told them if you want to achieve your dream you have to remember:

The path to a dream is paved with sacrifices and lined with determination. And though it has many stumbling blocks along the way and may go in more than one direction, it is marked with faith. It is traveled by belief and courage, persistence and hard work. It is conquered with a willingness to face challenges and take chances, to fail and try again and again. Along the way, you may have to confront doubts, setbacks, and unfairness. But when the path comes to an end, you will find that there is no greater joy than making your dream come true. – Arthemia

FIT offers everything that I have strived for through out high school. While attending my class this summer I met some amazing people, met incredible instructors, and learned that I was on my way to achieving my dream. I have signed up for another course this fall entitled Public Relations/Fashion Industry and can not wait to return. Mega Bus here I come!

Guest Blogger
Abigail Young

Fashion Forecasting: Seeing into the Future

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Have you ever wondered who decides that olive is the “color of the season”? Or who says that chokers are a “thing” again? These trends are determined by Fashion Forecasters, or as I like to call them, the Fairy Godmothers of style. By collecting styles from the past and from the present, these trend detectives and fashion fortune tellers decide what the upcoming trends are and they dictate what consumers will be wearing. They attend runway shows and observe street style to create tomorrow and reinvent yesterday.

As someone who is inspired by marketing and the fashion industry, I strive to surround myself with new skills and become more involved with the ways of predicting the future of fashion. It has only been a few weeks into my class of Fashion Forecasting here at FIT, and I have already learned so much. My classmates and I study the prediction of color, fabrics, textures, materials, prints, and other styles presented on the runway and in stores. We understand how forecasters must play on the vision of a business and the target customers by analyzing the history of fashion to see into the future. In class we look at each others outfits, study street style and gather similarities in style and color from window displays, all to figure and point out current trends. Some popular styles we have talked about include…

Distressed denim:

Photo from fashionbombdaily.com

Photo from fashionbombdaily.com

Choker Necklaces:

Photo from refinery29.com

Neutral color palette:

Photo from Elle.com

Oversized clothing:

Photo from Pinterest.com

Photo from Pinterest.com

Some of these trends are new and some have been revived, but whether new or old, they always find their way back to the top, because fashion always finds a way to repeat itself.

Until next time,

-Faith