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 Fashion stylist and journalist Annabel Tollman, the vice president of IMG Models, Jeni Rose; founder, creative director and editor-in-chief of College Fashionista, Amy Levin; founders and creative directors of NAHM, Alexandria Hilfiger and Nary Manivong; fashion writer and the discussion moderator, Lisa Marsh; and the executive vice president of global communications for Calvin Klein, Malcolm Carfrae
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Thursday night marked the end of my working summer in New York City with the FSF Intern Social. It was a time for all of the interns to mingle with board members of the organization and connect one more time before we end our internships. We met at The Gallatin School at NYU and snacked while talking with industry professionals and fellow interns. 
    The rest of the evening was spent with a panel of professionals at the peak of their careers in several aspects of the fashion industry. The discussion was moderated by Lisa Marsh, a fashion journalist and editor, and she asked some really insightful questions. Each panelist gave us a summary of what they do and how they have achieved their success. It was great to hear how they fell into their current career paths and what advise they had to offer us. We ended with a question and answer portion of the evening and everyone was open and happy to answer all of our questions. It was interesting to hear that above all, each panelists was in agreement that a good attitude, humility, and a diligent work ethic are the most important qualities for someone to have, yet they find it most lacking in the industry. In a seemingly cut throat industry, like fashion, it seemed that what these leaders really want is someone who can show up, prove themselves, and be gracious along the way. 
     I really felt that I learned more about what it takes to succeed in the industry by listening to the panel. It helped to solidify the idea that if you want something and genuinely work hard for it, it can be a reality. I sincerely appreciated this and all the opportunities I was able to experience this summer through the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. 

 
 
     The last three weeks of my work experience was spent in merchandising and design. It was really exciting to finally be working in the creative end of the business and to get a feel for life in that facet of the industry. 
     My time began with Fran Perez in little girls and school uniform. She was great at explaining everything to me and helping me better understand what she does. Fran has a background in design, but explained that there are many paths to merchandising. Her job is to be the mediator between the design team, sales, and the client. She has to know the store and its business to better communicate to design what it is they need to offer them. She also has to explain trends in the market and what she sees succeeding in the store to the sales team. Her biggest job, however, is the management of the team as a whole. Solidifying the seasonal calendar and establishing due dates are extremely important in the entire production process. It is the merchandisers job to make sure that everything is being effectively communicated and running like a well oiled machine. 
     After working with Fran, I spent the rest of my time under Evelyn Kang in boy's sportswear. She handles all of the sportswear brands for boys, working closely with her head designer Cecelia Liang. Evelyn's team was in the beginning stages of research and design for fall 2012. Evelyn had just come back from Austria and Belgium, where she shopped retailers to find out what is in the market for fall. Shopping European stores is a great indicator for what will be in fashion in the US because Europe tends to be at least a year ahead in regards to fashion. Most of my time was spent helping with online research, helping prepare mood boards, editing line sheets and finalizing color palettes. I was exposed to the creative process of planning for a season, as well as analyzing the merchandise that is already in the store.
     My time in merchandising was a great indicator for where I see myself in the industry. I loved the mix of design, sales, and styling that the position allowed me to do. Working in merchandising was a great way to finish my experience at Fishman & Tobin and helped complete my well rounded working experience!

 
 
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    Monday evening, I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Ralph Lauren showrooms for an event hosted by the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. Executives from the company talked with us about their respective areas of the business as we toured the beautiful showroom in groups.
    Ralph Lauren is one of the most recognizable brands of U.S. sportswear and after visiting their company it is not suprising. From the rich mahogany laden lobby to the lavish showrooms, every detail of the building exhudes Ralph. It is this attentiveness to the brand identity that has made Ralph Lauren a household name and synonymous with luxury and elegance. 
    Not only were the showrooms beautiful, but they created separate and distinct looks for each segment of the brand. Each area was outfitted with background graphics, physical structures, and props. These props help the brand communicate the look and inspiration of the current collection, as well as inspire retailers to buy more products. A conception design team is in charge of creating and executing the showrooms and change them every other month!
    Our visit to Ralph Lauren was also informative, as we listened to a variety of business professionals speak about what they do, as well as, how they achieved their success. There was also time for question and answers and some meet and greet. 
    It was great to be able to visit and was an opportunity that most do not get to do. I have been so blessed this summer for all the opportunities the YMA FSF has offered me. Ralph Lauren was only 
    
 
 
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   Today, I had the fortune of getting out of the office for a few hours to attend a textile convention here in the city called Premiere Vision. The convention is the meeting place of high end textile mills and those shopping for new fabrics. Booths are set up for each vendor and buyers are able to visit, make appointments, and place orders for production. Premiere Vision also creates their own color forecasts for the upcoming season, as well as offers seminars on new trends and techniques. For buyers and designers, conventions like Premiere Vision assist in the creative planning process by helping them determine what new trends will be appearing next year. We were able to see fall/winter 2012-2013 and even though our designers will never be able to use these fabrics, the experience was inspiring all the same. Our designers can take their inspiration and change, reinterpret, and slowly integrate those trends into their lines for next fall. 

   So for all your fashion enthusiasts, here is a little recap of what I saw and what I feel will be on trend for Fall/ Winter 12/13.

1) Continuation of the Color Contrast
    This past year we saw an emergence of two color palettes: neutrals and brights. This was still true for fall 12/13 and the color only continues to be bright. So if you wanted to buy a bright winter coat, but felt the trend was going away soon, go for it because it will be here for a while.

2) Prints Prints Prints
     Oh! So many beautiful prints, but the overwhelming majority were watercolor-like florals and geometric/ digital prints in jewel tones and bright colors.

3) All the details
    If your waiting for the embellished trend to go away, don't hold your breath. Regardless of the minimalist looks that now are in full swing, trim details are still being shown with heavy embellishments. The most common were chain details mixed with ribbon and beading. The new addition was seen working more with knitted or crocheted fabrics that were embellished to give a more handmade or vintage feel.

4) Amazing tweeds
    Tweed fabrics were very rustic and also utilized pops of bright color in unexpected ways.

5) Denim in Color
    Like we saw several seasons ago, denim is returning in color, but not in the obnoxious neon brights we saw before. Softer colors and new fabrications are being shown with the coated denim trend even more prevalent across the board. New washes and dry denim are becoming more popular as well. 

   There's just a few things I noticed, so now we will watch to see what happens in the future! 
 

 
 
I'll keep this one short and sweet. 

3) Mister Softee
   Only in New York can you find grown adult men and women unashamedly waiting in line at the ice cream truck. Now this is not your neighborhood, creepy ice cream man truck. No, this is a Dairy Queen on wheels. Let's face it, who doesn't love soft serve ice cream on a hot summers day? Or any day for that matter? I know I do and I think we should all be a little more New York, embrace the child within, and go for it regardless of your age. 
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  I was very excited to finally be able to visit one of New York's unique public parks and saved it till my boyfriend visited. Again we both felt that this was an "Only in New York" experience.

2) Highline Park, Chelsea NY
The Highline was built in the 1930's as part of the Westside Improvement project. The project was initiated to find a way to get trains off the street and make travel safer for those in the city. Tracks were built over the street for freight trains to use, enabling the neighborhood to flourish and grow to what it is today. The tracks have not been in use since the 80's and in 2005, plans were  made to turn the abandoned tracks into a usable space by the public. The park opened in 2009 and is continuing to expand further. The tracks have been repaved and wildflowers and plants are flourishing just over the city streets. Benches are scattered throughout for people to sit down and take in the city view. The tracks almost all the way to the water which will be amazing if they decide to expand that far. I loved that the city decided to use the wasted space and create a place that so many people can freely enjoy. Only in New York can you find a park made from abandoned train tracks!

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Another thing I love about this city is the over abundance of cultural diversity. Not only do millions of people from all over the world call the city home, but they have found a way to carry their culture over seas and keep their history alive. 

1) Little Italy 
   Everyone knows about China Town when they hear about New York, but hello, why does everyone fail to mention Little Italy? When walking through China town with my girlfriend who was visiting, we realized that in New York City, Asia and Italy are actually a block away from each other! Who knew? I knew Little Italy existed, but I had never been, so it was great to realize that at the corner of Mulberry and Canal, I was in the heart of it all. The thing I liked the most was that not only did things feel authentic, but I felt like I could experience a taste of the old New York. New York in the time of the great immigration when thousands flocked to our country through Ellis Island and settled in neighborhoods like this one to start new lives. Call me sentimental, but as an American it still means something to me to be able to stand on a street where generations upon generations of immigrant Americans raised children, fought adversity, and found freedom in the United States. There are only a few places in our great country that you can say have that much history and can make someone like myself with no personal connections acknowledge how special a place like that can be. Only in New York. Now just think if I were Italian!
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   Since I arrived in New York I have consistently repeated, to myself or aloud, a singular phrase, "Only in New York". I am daily delighted and sometimes horrified (naked man on the street) by the the fact that, love it or hate it, there are just some things that you can only do in New York! These things make the city truly one of a kind and so appealing that millions of people have voluntarily decided to cram themselves onto a tiny (and sometimes stinky) island of chaos. 

   Here are a few things I have enjoyed so far that only New York has been able to offer me. Don't worry, many more to come!

1) Jazz Age Lawn Party!

   My girlfriend Victoria and I were told about a great even hosted on Governor's Island every year called the Jazz Age Lawn Party while we were shopping at the Brooklyn Flea Market. Basically, tons of people dress up in their best Great Gatsby ensemble, take a ferry over to Governor's Island, and are sucked into the time warp of the 1920's. Never able to pass up a themed party (Vic), especially one commemorating one of the best eras in fashion, we were definitely going! The island was hopping and people were dressed to the nines. Vendors were there selling vintage clothing, hats, fans, and food and a jazz band set the tone as people cut loose on the dance floor. Definitely a unique experience, but nothing short of something only found in New York.
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   So, I know I am a bit behind in my blog posts, but there has been so much going on in the NYC! With visits from my two favorite people, (Taylor Renee and Trenton Starnes) followed by the holiday weekend, I am just now getting time to dedicate to my blog! Now I promise to recap and flood it with some info on what I've been working on, as well, as some of the interesting things I have been up to.

   Work wise, these past two weeks I have been working with the fabric team at Fishman & Tobin and helping them in any way I can. The fabric department is responsible for approving fabrics chosen by the design team, sending samples back and forth to the mills in which they are made, handling color trend reports and much more. Going into the department, I knew a little bit about textiles and standardization from a class I took last fall, so I didn't feel completely out of my element, but this department has proven to be extremely technical. Each time a designer creates a fabric design, whether it is a print, woven, or solid, the artwork is submitted for approval by the fabric department. Then someone inspects the design to ensure it is accurate and easily interpreted so that there will be no confusion once it is sent over seas. Once it is approved for production, the team deals with quality issues in the fabric pertaining to weight, hand, yarn count, and color after it has been sent back to our office from the mill. I learned first hand how sourcing in other countries can bring on some big problems when dealing with limited technology, miscommunication, or production issues. 


   The fabric department also orders color trend books from various color services to help facilitate designers in the creative process. Once colors are chosen, they have to be sent out to be matched so that they can create a company standard. The fabric team also maintains an extensive color and fabric library containing all the standardized fabrics so that if ever a fabric is repeated in the future, it can easily be found and manufactured.

   The more I work in the industry, the more I am realizing how intrical each department, position, and person is to running the business properly. Designers may be able to sketch and creatively come up with the finished product, but they have significant help from valuable team players like those in the fabric department. 
 
 
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             So I have been quietly following Tommy Hilfiger for the last few seasons since I read an article in Vogue, or Glamour, or somewhere (I can never remember once it's read) about how for his 25th anniversary, Tommy was revitalizing the brand and is bringing their brand back to it's origins of American sportswear. This was exciting for me because Tommy was once an American fashion powerhouse, but as some of you know, the 1990's pop culture in culmination with the support of the brand by the urban market, helped push Tommy to the edge of fashion suicide. Fortunately, they stayed afloat and Tommy Hilfiger is back with a vengence! Not only is the look modern, fashion forward, and beautiful, it oozes with the essence of historic American sportwear. Tommy stays true to American classic dress while keeping things modern and fresh. The biggest plus, the prices are not that frightening! Obviously, their runway pieces will cost you, but most of their products are affordable, especially in comparison to companies like JCREW, Banana Republic, and the like. So go check it out and for ONCE we can be proud to support some good ole' American fashion! Take that France!