Posted by: Staff | 10.26.2009

Teen Fashion Talk: Boston Fashion Week

TAYLOR HAYES ’12

On Saturday September, 26th I attended a discussion for local teens about the fashion industry. The event was held at the Boston Public Library and was put on by The School of Fashion Design located on Newbury Street. The School of Fashion Design is a small college that was founded seventy-five years ago and has now become a partner of Boston Fashion Week. The discussion was hosted by Boston Fashion Week Founder and Executive Director Jay Calderin. Along with him, there was a panel of people in various aspects of the fashion industry. Panelists included AJ Williams, an event planner working in Boston; Austyn Ellese Mayfield, editor of luckytoes.com, which is a popular shoe website; and Terry Mann, a prominent stylist and teacher at Mass Bay Community College. Lastly, there were two students: Justin Cote, a student at The School of Fashion Design, and Roytel Montero, a senior at Fenway High School.

The panel discussed the importance of studying business and marketing. This is a key topic because in the fashion industry today designing talent is not enough; therefore one must be educated in many fields. A designer must be the creative genius behind their line, have sewing knowledge, and be their own business person. Many young designers think that they will simply hire people to sew pieces for them and do all the marketing and publicity, but this is unrealistic in today’s world. A designer works with hundreds of people to put on a fashion show or launch a line. As a fledgling designer, it is extremely important to present yourself in a certain way in order for others to take your work seriously and to have the desire to work with you.

Due to the popularity of reality TV shows such as Project Runway, there has been an influx of people who desire to work as fashion designers. With more people in the industry, networking has become a key way of obtaining jobs. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you will have. The panelists also discussed the harshness in the industry; Justin Cote elaborated on how he was able to develop a second skin and take each criticism with a grain of salt. He recalled how he would present some ideas to his teachers that he believed were good and how they would tell him to start over; however, he believed that while it is important to listen to your teachers and mentors, your own voice must also be a part of decision making. He then told us of a specific situation when a teacher told him to change one of his designs by adding a panel in the back of his dress. He decided that would not work with his design, and he changed it in a different way. As he nervously showed his teacher the next day, she commended him on sticking with his gut.

In the last few years, Boston has become a growing hot spot for fashion. The city has become an alternative for those who do not want to live in the hectic city of New York. The panelists explained that Boston has all the benefits of New York but also has a stronger community feel. Sports are really the best example, the Red Sox Fans are unlike any other sports fans in the entire nation. Loyalty and devotion are very important to all Bostonians, which is why it is a little easier to succeed in the smaller but just as vibrant city. For example, small boutique owners have made it big in Boston, where major design houses dominate in New York City.

At the end of the event, I approached Jay Calderin and asked him a few questions. I then told him I was writing an article about the discussion for my school newspaper, to which he responded, “Really!” and smiled. I asked him what he wanted the readers of my article to know. He said, “Get to know what you love, and once you find it, learn everything you can about it.”

I walked away from the library feeling like I had a better sense of what goes on inside the fashion industry. I understand that the “behind the scenes” work is not as glamorous as the final product, but it can be just as exciting.

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