The Fashion Institute of Technology may be the top school to study any aspect of the fashion industry. However, some students prefer to go to schools with notable reputations that are typical, four-year colleges. I wanted to know just what it’s like to attend one of these as a fashion student.
Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY is one of those schools. Known for its high standards in academics and beautiful campus along the Hudson River, this private institution is home to a small, up-and-coming fashion department. The experience these students have is different than those like myself who go to specialized schools for the fashion industry in the heart of NYC. Two of my good friends are prime examples of this: Kim Trentalange and Kevin Crowley.
Kim and Kevin went to high school with me and each have a background in performing arts. Kim has been a dancer for nearly all of her life, telling me, “Dance literally made me who I am right now.” She was also on our high school Drama Club’s Costume Crew for three years, allowing her to show her creativity in a different side of theater.
Kevin, on the other hand, started performing in musicals in middle school, and later, had the incredible honor of performing at both the Gershwin and Jimmy Awards as Pippin from his senior musical of the same name. He was one of the competition’s only raw talents, something he prides himself on. Though he didn’t win, he later took home a local performing arts award for his outstanding role that year.
Whether it was competing in dance or in theater, both students agree that they each learned how to work as a team during their days of performing. Kevin explains, “I think team work, in fashion and theater, [you have to realize] there’s no way you’re going to be one person putting on a show.” Agreeing with this, Kim added, “I learned to work on a team as a team… which I think is very important in this industry.”
If the two were so involved in theater and performing, why did they go into fashion?
Kim chose fashion because she “didn’t know what else to do.” It worked out because she fell in love with the industry and is now interning at the product development company, Riviera, as well as working at Old Navy. She was influenced to go into product development from her high school days of working on costumes.
Kevin, on the other, was influenced to go into majoring in Fashion Design because of drag queens. “These masculine men can be such feminine women and… make their outfits look so fabulous or even fashion forward.” Just like Kim, he also works at Old Navy and even minors in Fashion Merchandising.
For two people who both took fashion classes in high school, why did they both chose Marist as opposed to a school in the fashion capital of the world?
Kim chose Marist because she didn’t know if fashion was what she’d stick with, allowing her to easily changer her major. She also felt incredibly comfortable on the campus.Though he attended Summer Live classes at FIT, Kevin chose Marist because he liked the fact that the school “provides a very liberal arts-style environment.”
Does being on a big college campus change the fashion student’s style? Kim’s response was that people don’t judge you based on your clothing. She is quite happy wearing her sweatpants to class because “you’re going to get a better grade on your test anyway” as opposed to those who may try a little too hard with their style. She even credits the Director of the Fashion Department, telling me that “he has a very laid-back attitude.”
Kevin decided to not answer this question because he didn’t spend his freshman year in Poughkeepsie. Instead, Kevin studied abroad in Florence, Italy for eight months at the college’s sister campus. The experience gave him a whole new outlook on fashion overseas. “We talk about European fashion… but just being able to experience it more than just look at it… is like a postcard: you can see it, but you don’t have the idea unless you’ve actually been there before.”
Kim was lucky enough to have a similar experience this year when she headed over to Paris, France to take merchandising classes for two weeks. “We basically went to the FIT of Paris. We took a merchandising class with the head of merchandising at Louis Vuitton for all of Europe.”
After graduating and working in the industry for some time, the two best friends hope to open their own shop… for drag queens. Maybe Kim will even dance around the shop for customers. With these two, you never know what is to come. Though the three of us are in the same industry at two different schools, it is clear that these two know the path they want to take towards success in an industry that’s incredibly fast-paced and challenging. Their drive and determination is no different than those at FIT or Parsons. The only difference is that they’re getting to experience college in a different light.