By: Mary Graham, Academic Coordinator, Department of Retailing and Tourism Management
Every fall semester, just prior to spring registration, Merchandising, Apparel and Textiles students anxiously wait in line at 8:00 a.m. in hopes of making the “MAT 480 list.” Writing your name on the coveted list means you are up for one of the 20 spots taking a trip to New York City during Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week!
MAT 480 is an optional study tour class which allows MAT students to travel to New York City for a week and learn about all aspects of the merchandising, apparel and textiles industries. While on the trip, students and faculty attend appointments with several retail companies ranging from small wholesale showrooms to million dollar merchandising groups. The trip is designed to give students exposure to career opportunities while learning about theories, ideas, strategies, and insight representatives from each company have to share. The students are also encouraged to bring resumes so they can network and potentially land summer internships.
This year we visited several retail operations: Macy’s Merchandising Group, Cotton Inc., Supplements Accessories, Klenfeld Bridal, Fashion Snoops, Ross Stores, Tommy Hilfiger, M&S Schamlberg, RJM Group, Magaschoni, and Frist2Print. At each appointment, we were given a tour of the facility and spoke one-on-one with employees about what the company does, how they operate as a business, how they sell their product, who is their customer, and advice on how they started in the business.
Some of the most memorable moments from this year’s appointments included being greeted by Betsy Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger’s sister! She actually gave us the grand tour of their corporate office and let us in the costume archive room, where every garment ever made by Tommy Hilfiger was displayed. In Klenfeld’s we were able to see the set where they film TLC’s hit show “Say Yes to the Dress,” our students were also able to go into the alterations room and see the entire process of what happens after the bride says “yes.” Finally, in First2Print, we saw the official Spider Man suit worn by Toby McGuire! First2Print is a textile design and manufacturing company that was approached to create the digital image printing for the blockbuster movie. Their employees showed us the process the suit went through in order to get to the final product as seen in the movie!By taking the study tour during fashion week, our goal is to attend as many fashion shows as possible. The fashion shows are a surreal experience! Watching beautiful handmade clothes come down the runway is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and our students were fortunate enough to attend three shows, one of which they actually worked! Katya Zol, a new up-and-coming designer from Mongolia, was gracious enough to let us help produce her fashion show. Our students did anything and everything from dressing models, to arranging gift bags, to checking in audience members. A whirlwind of excitement went on backstage as we all frantically changed models to make sure they made their way down the runway.
Aside from appointments and fashion shows, students have free time to explore New York City and visit places like Times Square, Union Station, 5th Avenue, and Rockefeller Center. Other activities the group enjoyed were a bus tour of the entire island of Manhattan, a family style dinner at Carmine’s, and a night on Broadway seeing Cinderella!
These five days are jammed packed with excitement, fun, and unique experiences only to be described as “when in New York…”
A special video shares student perspective about the trip. View the video at: