Assistant Vice President of CIS, Nina Fiddian-Green, recently told WWD: “Fashion Forward is an industry-focused, project-based career development experience that delivers robust, meaningful career development with or without a traditional internship. The program delivers a sequential pathway of five career education courses that impart the knowledge, experiences, and skills students need to complete their career education requirements, regardless of how the industry responds to COVID-19.”
This year saw the discontinuation of many internships LIM students needed to complete their undergraduate requirements; CIS quickly developed this program to provide those students with career experience. Throughout the program, they went through entrepreneurial processes: ideation, research, and presenting projects. They brainstormed, conducted interviews, and some even developed prototypes, all before presenting their processes and concepts to industry leaders from the area of fashion they chose in a two-day “Fashion Forward LIVE” event.
The first day of presentations consisted of projects that focused on the customer shopping experience, sustainability, and branding. To kick off the presentations and welcome the industry judges, LIM President Elizabeth Marcuse shared opening remarks, addressing how resilient the students were to take part in this new program during challenging times. Many great projects were then presented, such as new apps for shopping online and experiential concepts for existing brands.
Some of the industry speakers on this day included:
- Alan Spalter, President of Retail Assistance Corp
- Robert Bronstein: Former President, of Leon Max/Max Studio & BCBG Max Azria
- Julie Verdugo Director of Sustainability + Social Impact at Free People
- Fatima Anwar the founder and CEO of ethical & sustainable sourcing
It was evident through the presentations and feedback from the judges that the students had worked hard and developed concepts that they could follow through with in their careers.
“I loved the feedback from the industry professionals, and the short nature of the presentation helped me to only discuss what was truly important,” said Andrew Fischer, a Fashion Marketing student who presented a sustainable packaging concept.
On the second and final day of presentations, projects focused on Technology (AR & VR, digital platforms), Beauty, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and more. These presentations were inspiring and innovative, as many featured new products and apps. With more notable industry judges— like Nicole Pizzaro, Photo & Film Producer at Shiseido—and others, the students received great feedback to further develop their concepts to be used as business ventures or portfolio builders. Just like the first round of presentations, it was evident that the students worked hard and came up with great fashion-forward concepts. LIM Provost Lisa Springer made closing remarks both days, highlighting the hard work and dedication of the students.
Without the guidance of the LIM professors and the CIS office, this program and this wonderful event would not have been possible. “My professors definitely helped me to stay on track this summer, as online learning amidst a pandemic proved difficult.” Fischer continued.
Professors were very proud of their students’ final work too, as they got to watch them grow throughout. Fashion Merchandising Professor Terance Coffee said, “My students developed skills in this course that they can use wherever they end up in fashion or other industries. I am ecstatic about the creativity and academic excellence exhibited by my students who were thrown into this new experience.” It was amazing to see the final product of their projects and the interaction between students and industry leaders through the Fashion Forward LIVE event.”
This new project-based internship course was a great alternative to traditional internships and something LIM students may take part in in the future regardless of the need to work or study virtually.