FIT: Expectations versus Fantastically Incredible Truth

alivia-cooneyHey city starlets! It’s time for another poast in which I toast FIT’s Precollege Program for opening me up to a world of coexisting creativity and focus that I didn’t know existed, let alone could enter before college!

I had high hopes in signing up for my Product Development class this fall. After five weeks of immersing myself in the program, the school, and the surrounding culture of Chelsea, I can say with all honesty that my experiences have exceeded even the highest of my expectations.

Stepping off of the LIRR train and onto the Penn Station platform, my first day began a little astray from schedule, but nonetheless in an Average Alivia fashion: Immediately after finding my way out of Penn (harder than you’d think, considering there’s literally hundreds of directory signs) into the hustling-bustling habitat that New York City is so renowned for, I walked a full two blocks in the opposite direction from FIT. The only unfortunate unexpected part of my experience at FIT thus far? Navigating the city without a sense of direction!

Entering the concrete, blue business building (poetry is alive) into class, I anticipated entering a community of like-minded artists and up-and-coming enterprisers. I wanted to view these potential friendships as networking opportunities, with equal parts potential for creative collaborations and business collaborations. Within minutes of starting the class and meeting my peers who I would be spending the next 11 weeks with, I knew my anticipation proved accurate!

While I expected to value these classmates from a business standpoint, I did not expect to form such natural friendships so quickly and easily. These friendships are not just all-business; they are honest and fun as well.  It wasn’t even two classes in before I started having kinds of conversations with these girls that I don’t even have with friends at school who I’ve known for years. I went out after class to stores with these girls without any prior plans, so fluidly and without any initial awkwardness. There is a natural kinship: we are all one tribe. Even apart from the amazing girls in my class, I’ve had inspiring and promising interactions with many other millennials in the area, from store clerks to fellow shoppers. I don’t make friends nearly as easily and quickly with people in the suburbs as I do with city people. Such a refreshing vibe that I didn’t even know I needed. My (cliché) advice for anyone in the precollege program? Don’t be afraid to talk to people!

Another thing I didn’t expect about the program was the time commitment. I knew it would be an all-day project once a week, but I did not expect the lingering influence it has in my life all week long, each week. I’m not just talking about assignments and projects; this class has honestly changed my worldview. I’m much more focused. I no longer let petty daily high school happenings weigh me down, because I have an inner drive that gives me strength. Now that I’ve been exposed to such a great environment, it is all I can concentrate on. I’m constantly working on posts for this blog, projects for my class, and seeking out opportunities to be in the city as much as possible. This concept is so important to me and many of the other girls in my class. The gift never leaves.

I think the most major part of my experience at FIT that I didn’t expect was the fun and fantasy-like adventures that I go on before and after, whether it be for food, shopping, or entertainment.

Generally, I don’t stray too far from seventh avenue (my route from Penn to FIT), partly because of convenience, partly because I have strict parents, and partly because I still have no sense of direction.

As far as shopping is concerned (and I know from personal experience that it is a major concern for many FIT students), there are literally tons of diverse options within walking distance. Listed below are some of my favorites, sorted into categories, and complete with the respective price ranges (according to Yelp). Also important to note is that these are not all clothing stores, but rather unique stores of all kinds that are hard to find dupes of outside of the city.

Buffalo Exchange – 114 W 26th St ($$)

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(reposted from pinterest.com/buffaloexchange)

I’ve mentioned this store before, and I will mention it again. Buy, sell, and exchange unique, trendy, seasonal apparel. Must be 18 or older to sell/exchange, unless you are accompanied by an adult with ID.

Lasting Art – 110 W 28th St ($$)

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(reposted from yelp.com)

I’ve recently discovered one of the most underrated, beautiful streets in Manhattan; West 28th Street, also known as the FLOWER DISTRICT! So lovely! This store in particular is known for their authentic artificial flowers.

New Dragon Toy Wholesale Inc. – 101 W 27th St ($)

One of my favorite things about the FIT area is the huge amount of specialized wholesale stores. This one is a toy store, so it’s a bit more niche-y. I went here to buy my ten year old sister  some birthday presents just last week. (Thankfully, my economic choice was worth it, as she loved her new chachkis!) These stores may not be known for their quality, but they are great for quantity. When I took a class at FIT in eighth grade, I once got about five packs of printed leggings (all the rage at the time) in bulk for just twenty-something dollars. Sadly, I never took note of the specific name of that store, but if you take a quick stroll down this block alone there are several stores that can satisfy this purpose.

Rock Star Crystals – 146 W 26th St ($$)

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(reposted from yelp.com)

Just a few stores down from Buffalo Exchange, this store sells exclusively crystals of all kinds, in both raw and jewelry form. The idea is that crystals possess certain healing powers. I literally gasped when I first walked past it, it is so strikingly beautiful. It is stores like this that remind me how much money I need in order to live out all my impractical whims.

Strand Bookstore (in Club Monaco) – 160 5th Ave ($$)

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(reposted from pinterest.com/shienru)

Our class visited Club Monaco on a field trip a few weeks ago in an effort to study their floor plan and its relationship with product development. However, I was quickly whisked away by a strong fragrant scent toward the far side of the store. I’ve always loved and appreciated bookstores as a whole, and this one is easily my new favorite. It has such a vibe! Filled with rare collectible books all about art, feminism, fashion, and other liberal arts, I would be completely content living there for weeks on end with no outside interaction. It also had one of those wheely ladders like in Beauty and the Beast. Easily the most aesthetically pleasing bookstore I’ve ever been to. I’m in love!

Truemart Discount Fabrics – 261 7th Ave ($$)

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(reposted from commonthreadupholstery.com)

What fashion student wouldn’t appreciate a fabric store? I have yet to go inside, but being directly across from the FIT campus, it is so tempting AND convenient.

Uniqlo – 31 W 34th St ($$)

A store specializing in basic clothing essentials ranging from t-shirts to leggings to socks. It’s one of my personal favorite stores because of its practicality, which has granted it locations all over the world. From a product development standpoint, I appreciate the business model.

Whole Body at Whole Foods Market – 260 7th Ave ($$)

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(reposted from nytimes.com)

A whole store dedicated to carrying on Whole Foods’ value of the all-natural and organic, but with a focus on health, beauty, and homeopathy (another branch of liberal faux-science akin to crystals in which I am a sucker for)? Sign me UP!

In addition to shopping, there are also some sick local galleries that you need to visit. I could write a whole separate post about them, but for now I will just plant the seed.

Last Rites (325 W 38th St)

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(reposted from art-nerd.com)

Popaganda NYC Pop-Up (72 Gansevoort St)dscf4069

(reposted from streetartnews.net)

A long day of commuting, working hard in class, and navigating the city is tiring. Below I’ve listed some cool restaurants great for a pre-class startup, mid-class break, or post-class pick-me-up. I’ve bolded the places I’ve been to, and the others I frequently walk past and hope to stop at soon.

  • Argo Tea Café – 275 7th Ave (at W 26th St)
  • brgr – 287 7th Avenue
  • Broadway Bites – Greeley Square, Broadway
  • Cafe 27 – 250 W 27th St
  • Fresh & Co – 363 7th Ave
  • Gigi Cafe – 307 7th Ave (directly across from Pomerants Art & Design Building)
  • Gregory’s Coffee – 356 7th Ave
  • The Juice Shop – 7 Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Just Salad – 291 7th Ave (They just sell bagels… just kidding. It’s just… salad.)
  • Pret A Manger – 342 7th Ave
  • RARE Bar & Grill – 152 W 26th St
  • VLife NYC – 348 7th Ave

That’s the word on the street for this week! Check back next week as we continue to “Liv” The Dream in NYC, brought to you by FIT’s Precollege Program.

Instructor Spotlight: Abby Verbosky

Abby Verbosky’s roots are in social documentary and street photography. She has been a Teaching Artist since 2014 with International Center of Photography and Magic Box Productions with residencies in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Verbosky graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Photojournalism and Anthropology from Ohio University and enjoys storytelling through visuals.

Website: www.abbyverbosky.com

Abby Verbosky teaches:
JSX 006 Basic Digital Photography: Portraits 
JSX 007 Basic Digital Photography: Environments

Teaching Philosophy:
I have a passion for life and its moments—laughter, tears, intimacy, and despair, community and seclusion. I share this passion with my students through the power of photography.

On Precollege Programs:
I enjoy teaching driven students come into a college setting; it’s a new creative space to learn advanced skills and explore what their cameras can capture. With the tools they learn and their current environment, students will have an opportunity to go home with striking photographs. More importantly, teaching Precollege is a great pleasure as I get to help develop talent at a very early state. The skills my students learn will be helpful to them moving from middle school into high school and beyond.

 

Where The Locals Go

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Though I am no local, I do know my way around the city pretty well. This comes at an advantage when I am trying to find a new place to shop or eat. In order for my fellow non-local students to make the best of their trip to the city or for those Manhattanites who want to expand their go-to stops; I have compiled a list of my five favorite places to stop at near FIT. I strongly recommend taking a look so you never have to leave the city bored, wishing you could have stayed just a bit longer to add to your already awesome day at FIT.

1.The Smith: On the corner of 27th street and Broadway, one of my personal favorites, The Smith serves up some highly satisfying bites for people of all ages. With an underground photo booth and a classic yet rustic aesthetic, you can’t go wrong. I would 10 out of 10 recommend this restaurant as your next lunch or dinner destination after a hard day’s work at FIT.

The Smith

The Smith

2. Chelsea Market: At 72 9th ave between 16th and 27th street, this indoor marketplace is a melting pot of food junkies and shopaholics. With a variety of small businesses and great pit stops to chow down at, there is something for everybody. If you are in the mood for crêpes, American classics, Italian cuisine or any other food imaginable, Chelsea Market has you covered. And whether you want to find the latest trend or the next best thing there are countless stores to browse around in. These include Anthropologie, various pop-ups, local artist vendors and a variety of other eclectic shops to find what you are looking for.

Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market

3.The High Line: On a beautiful sunny day this is the perfect spot to spend your afternoon. Running from Gansevoort street in the Meatpacking district to West 34th street between 10th and 12th; you can walk through what is almost two miles long of an old train track, admiring the classic skyline of Manhattan. The best part is, it’s free!

The High Line

The High Line

4.The Whitney: This museum that is strictly devoted to American art is located at 99 Gansevoort street. It is chock full of amazing artwork from some of today’s most popular American artists. If you are a sucker for anything modern or contemporary then I am sure you will fall in love with something, and if not the art, then you definitely will obsess over the view The Whitney has to offer overlooking the ever-changing skyline. When you are done drooling over all the museum has to offer, you can browse their awesome gift shop and sit down at The Whitney’s prestigious restaurant, Untitled. (Do not forget to use your FIT ID for a student discount on admission!)

The Whitney Museum

The Whitney Museum

Untitled at The Whitney

5.The Style Shop: Full of funky vintage finds, designer jewelry, and awesome FIT apparel there is no way you can leave this remarkable boutique without falling in love. Located right here on campus in the Dubinsky lobby, The Style Shop, run by actual students, is the heart of the Merchandising Society here at FIT. This savvy team does everything from buying to selling and makes sure every customer leaves with a bag in their hand a smile on their face.

The Style Shop via @The_styleshop instagram

The Style Shop via @The_styleshop instagram

Thanks for reading,

-Faith

Instructor Spotlight: Isolina Perez

finalsmallIsolina Perez is the Department/Industry Project Coordinator for the Jewelry Design department at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She also teaches part time through the school’s Center for Professional Studies and the Precollege Program. She is a frequent guest artist at the Guilded Lynx Studio in Connecticut and offers private workshops at Studio 134 in NYC.

Isolina is also a jewelry and mixed-media artist who likes to bend the rules and push the envelope when creating innovative pieces. Why not think outside the box and re-purpose a device that embosses paper or utilize ordinary items like paper clips to texture metal? She uses these techniques and a variety of others to create her concepts in resin, metal, paper, and enamel.

Classes Taught:
HSX 010: Beaded and Wire-wrapped Jewelry Design
JSX 070 Jewelry Design: Wire-Forming and Beaded Techniques
JSX 071 Jewelry Design: Metal Jewelry Techniques
JSX 072 Jewelry Design: Clay, Resin and Polymer Techniques

isolinaperez
On Precollege Programs:
The Precollege Program is a wonderful opportunity for middle school and high students to take a class they love in a college setting. It’s most rewarding when the students complete a piece above and beyond their expectations.

Teaching Philosophy:
Whether someone is a  novice or experienced jewelry designer, I remind them that making jewelry should be fun.  I encourage students to ask as many questions as possible, it doesn’t matter how many times I repeat myself as long as they get the concept.  I tell the students they are only limited by their imagination, and by the end of the class they will be walking out with as many pieces of jewelry as they have created.  That’s Priceless!

Industry Experience:
Isolina has been featured in several issues of Stampington Magazine, Just Steampunk Magazine and in the Lark book “Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry.”

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The Best DIY Halloween Costume: You

alivia-cooney

Alivia

Hey guys and ghouls! It’s the Halloween season, a time to celebrate individuality, theatricality, and plain old absurdity. What better time to experiment with new styles, based on some of your favorite icons? Make every look a costume! Treat your wardrobe like it’s a Halloween pop-up store, not a uniform factory!

It has been four classes and one field trip into my weekly Sunday odyssey at FIT’s Precollege Program. It’s time for a new post that might send shivers up the skinny jeans of the fashion-conservative, while making us fashion deviants scrounge the shelves of the nearest thrift shop within seconds.

Who are you supposed to be? Are you the winner of the costume contest, or are you just another stray cat?

My Product Development class has gotten me thinking about how an individual’s fashion choices come together to create a character. At a certain point, our fashion becomes our costume; we are not referred to by name or number, but by “girl-with-heavy-contour-and-heels-she-can’t-walk-in.”

On my first day of class at FIT, the professor started the course by going around the room and having each student say where they shop. In the context of a Product Development class, this is only logical; our goal is to meet the wants and needs of the common buyer, and what better way to learn what average buyers seek than by studying the models of successful stores? From a business standpoint, we can extract the popular stores’ models by placing their products in terms of the Pyramid; no, not Abby Lee Miller’s pyramid- the Product Development Pyramid.

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On a more personal level, this class discussion led me to consider what contributes to an individual’s style. I know what stores my peers shop at, but what brought them into that store? What has influenced their fashion sense? Who are their style icons? What did they first see that subconsciously caused them to believe that this store is the best reflection of them?

To best answer these questions, I will discuss the influences and influencers of the character whose style I know best: myself.

My style icons are mainly renowned for their bold and theatrical aesthetics. I’m very passionate about music, so most of them happen to be musicians (the context of which their dramatic aesthetics are fitting). I’ve listed a few below, along with some key examples of signature looks that should say it all:

FKA Twigs
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(FKA Twigs, reposted from stealherstyle.net, glamourmagazine.co.uk, pinterest.com/passionn5050, and elleuk.com)

Gwen Stefani
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(Gwen Stefani, reposted from cosmopolitan.co.uk, © Mark Ferguson/Rex via dailymail.co.uk, 90sgwenstefani.tumblr.com, pinterest.com/jennyelina)

Marina Diamandis
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(Marina Diamandis, reposted from pinterest.com/janbergazzi, elle.com, pinterest.com/billboard, and fanpop.com)

Nicole Richie
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(Nicole Richie, reposted from Nicole Richie for House of Harlow 1960 by Vijat Mohindra via rebloggy.com, peoplemagazine.co.za, pinterest.com/churachura, and celebitchy.com)

Stevie Nicks
befunky-collage
(Stevie Nicks, reposted from imgfave.com, pinterest.com/alanalda45, pinterest.com/mollymcisaac, and pinterest.com/9gypsy)

St. Vincent
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(St. Vincent, reposted from tumblr.com, © Ben Hassett for Harper’s Bazaar, pinterest.com/twotickets, and vanityfair.com)

Aside from public figures, I also draw a lot of the inspiration for my aesthetic from other media, like movies and TV shows. Sound similar to choosing a Halloween costume? For example, I’m greatly influenced by the aesthetic of 90s cult films like Clueless (1995) and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997), as well as Tim Burton movies like Coraline (2009) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). I love wearing hyper-feminine 90s-style crushed velvet and chokers whenever possible, and I love to style it in as whimsical a tone as possible. The theatricality! I also really love the look and feel of old school low budget films, like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). It doesn’t get spookier than that! Various television characters, for example Fran Fine from The Nanny and Samantha from Sex and the City, as well as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (QUEEN of wearing the same outfit for thirty years), have also contributed to my look. It sounds funny, but I also find unlikely inspiration from nonhuman characters like Betty Boop, Jessica Rabbit, and Miss Piggy. The more imaginary, the better! What can I say? It’s a concept!

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(Miss Piggy, reposted from femalefirst.co.uk)

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(Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, reposted from sugarrockcatwalk.com)

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(Texas Chainsaw Massacre, reposted from evilontwolegs.com)

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(Fran Fine from The Nanny, reposted from racked.com)

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(Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, reposted from buzzfeed.com)

To best express the influence of such nouns (people, places, things) on my vibe and aesthetic, I shop mainly at local and online boutiques (mainly for statement pieces, which would fall under the top “fashion” part of the pyramid).

These stores include:

~Buffalo Exchange (locations all over the U.S., including five in NY, one being a block away from FIT in Chelsea at 114 W 26th St)
~Dolls Kill (dollskill.com)
~Fashion Nova (fashionnova.com)
~Free People (freepeople.com, locations all over the U.S., Canada, and U.K.)
~House of Harlow 1960 (houseofharlow1960.com)
~Mystique Boutiqe NYC (mystiqueboutiquenyc.com, locations in Manhattan and Long Island)
~Nasty Gal (nastygal.com)
~O-MIGHTY (o-mighty.com)
~Ruby and Jenna (rubyandjenna.com, locations in NY and NJ)
~So Aesthetic Shop (soaestheticshop.com) ~ use the promo code “Harmony” for 10% off
~Twenty5A (twenty5a.com, located on Long Island)

Where will you buy your daily costumes? Will you mix-and-match and DIY, or will you choose a prepackaged number off the wall? What character will you be? Will you masquerade as the most convenient persona, or will you take the time to develop the best product, a conglomerate of all your favorite icons and influences- you? Creep in the comment section below and tell your tale!

Join me next week as we continue to “Liv” On The Edge of true enterprising artistry, brought to you by FIT’s Precollege Program!

~Alivia