Joyce F Brown
President Fashion Institute of Technology
Students must also develop social media strategies and concepts for branding...
Dr. Joyce F Brown is the president of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). She speaks on the importance of social media for students in her interview with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Mary Christine Joy.
Fashion Institute of Technology is a college under State University of New York. It is an internationally recognized college for design, fashion, art, communications, and business. Founded in 1944, FIT offers Associate of Applied Science Degrees, Bachelor of Science Degrees, Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees, Master of Professional Studies Degrees, Master of Arts Degrees, and a Master of Fine Arts Degree. Today, the campus encompasses an entire city block, and serves more than 10,000 students.
Dr. Brown is the president of FIT since 1998. She has had over 30 years experience in public higher education. Prior to her appointment at FIT, she was professor of clinical psychology at the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY. Dr. Brown earned her doctorate and master's degree in counseling psychology from New York University and her bachelor's degree from Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York.
Markets are depressed, how is this impacting employment in the overall textile and fashion industry? How can aspiring candidates gear up for this scenario?
In 2012, the last time FIT surveyed recent graduates, we were able to report that of those who responded, nearly 80 percent of associate degree graduates and 90 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates were employed. And this predates the gradual economic recovery that some countries, including the United States, are experiencing.
To make our students superior job candidates, we not only provide an in-depth education in our students’ primary area of study, but also educate them to be as versatile as possible and this gives them an advantage in a bad economy. Courses are designed to broaden their understanding of the humanities, strengthen critical thinking and communication skills. The fact that markets have been challenged is, in fact, an opportunity for our students and recent graduates. They can take the innovative concepts we teach in the classroom into the marketplace. These are fresh, new ideas that will regenerate the market.
Regarding employment for FIT graduates and alumni, our graduates tend to live in consuming countries and travel to producing and trading countries to develop fabrics and related products. They work side-by-side with fashion designers, merchandisers, and the production departments to make sure that new fabrics and new products are developed or modified for every product line.
Which geographic regions are growing in terms of opportunities for fashion design students? This can be cities, countries, or any area in particular. For example, we know that many fashion design students are moving to Chinese universities because there is a lot of scope in China, nowadays. What is your opinion?
There are particular opportunities in Asia today, including in China, of course. China is changing from a manufacturing site to one where fashion designers are emerging. FIT has entered into relationships in Shanghai, which is becoming a leading fashion capitol. We have active exchange programs for our Fashion Design and Advertising and Marketing Communications students in Zhejiang Sci-Tech University outside of Shanghai and Donghua University in Shanghai. Brazil, India and Russia are other countries that are growing for fashion design. The State University of New York system, of which FIT is a college, has a presence in Seoul. Our largest international student population comes from South Korea, and therefore, we have a growing alumni population there.
Fashion equals change. In this, how can an aspiring candidate have faith in their creativity where change is constant? What do you suggest to budding designers as well as students about this?
First, we teach them well. Our students learn the technical applications of design. They also learn to develop their own aesthetic vision. They know what “works”---both from a fashion point of view and a design perspective. If they are confident and able to rely on their knowledge and exposure, they will be flexible---neither trendy nor inconsistent in their image---and able to remain current in a rapidly changing market. Creativity can flow and faith can develop when you are prepared well and have confidence in your ability.
What do you think does it take for a student to succeed in the world of fashion?
It takes talent and a point of view; it takes exposure to and embrace of the technical requirements that make design work. It takes a sensitivity to and understanding of the body (female or male) to know how to build in flexibility and comfort to accompany the statement being envisioned. It takes a knowledge of textiles and how to choose the right fabric for the design. It takes a sensibility to the importance and nuance of the appropriate color and tone to complete the execution of the vision. And if all of that is in place, it must be accompanied by an understanding of the impact of social, cultural and economic forces on fashion and the psychological response of the consumer to the product. Critical thinking and communication skills are imperative.
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