If you want to make it in the competitive world of fashion, it’s best to start early. It’s an industry that’s particularly known for its young protégés; Coco Channel first picked up a needle and thread at age twelve while Yves Saint Laurent created his first design in his early teens, and around the same age Christian Louboutin began sketching his first shoes. With that in mind, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) has been extending its Precollege Programs to include Summer Live at FIT, a summer college program designed for High School and Middle School students.
Run by FIT’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the courses are held at its West 27th Street location in New York City and designed for young artists and designers to have the opportunity to get a taste of what their future careers might look like. While the college is not denying the word ‘fashion’ in its first name, they would like perspective students to know there’s more to explore at FIT than what makes it onto the runway.
The range of courses includes subjects encompassing everything from comic-book drawing to pattern making, advertising and marketing to jewelry design, in addition to introductory workshops on the fashion industry, design and couture. While the courses that comprise the summer program are deliberately designed to be introductory, casual and fun in their presentation, the subjects are taught by an impressive roster of artists, designers, and other professionals who make up the FIT faculty. And although students learn about the FIT admissions process, the program is designed to be more of a ‘hands on’ introduction for high school and middle-school students who might be thinking about these disciplines either as a serious hobby or as part of a full-time career. “The Precollege instructors treated us the same as college students, both academically and creatively,” said former Precollege Live student Wendy Sy. “This helped make the transition from high school to college an easy one for me. Overall, Precollege Programs helped me in deciding what college and major to apply to. It was truly a great experience!”
Summer students were expected to participate fully in their courses and at the Barnes & Noble at FIT campus bookstore, manager Carla Oliver Bowens reports that the students were given a supply list, which the store was there to fulfill. “The students attending the Summer Live programs kept us busy when the campus is usually quiet through the summer holidays, coming in for everything from supplies to snacks to t-shirts,” she explains. Bowens also noted that many of these young students were already creating a strong attachment with the college. “Our summer students are the first set of eyes on our back-to-school merchandise,” she says, “and many of them were more than ready to show their school spirit by purchasing FIT logo apparel.”
Precollege Summer Live is just part of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s outreach programs. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies also runs a series of year-round programs designed for students of all ages, but Bowens is especially looking forward to seeing her summer student visitors back in her store. “I remember having a conversation with a twelve-year-old who was participating in the program.” she recalls. “She was absolutely positively coming back here to go to school — and I totally believe her.”