Where Fashion People Actually Went to College

Not every fashion industry hopeful can go to Parsons, Saint Martins or FIT, and not everyone should. Just for you, we asked a bunch of fashion insiders -- from designers to public relations professionals -- where they went to college and what they learned there.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
7188
Not every fashion industry hopeful can go to Parsons, Saint Martins or FIT, and not everyone should. Just for you, we asked a bunch of fashion insiders -- from designers to public relations professionals -- where they went to college and what they learned there.
Andy Lyons/Getty

Andy Lyons/Getty

As Thanksgiving looms, so do early-admission college applications. If you're as on top of things as we're betting most Fashionista readers are, you've most likely already started writing your essays -- or better yet, you're done.

While we highly suggest perusing our list of the 50 top fashion schools in the world before sending out that final application, we also think it's good to know that there isn't one perfect college or university. Not every fashion industry hopeful can go to Parsons, Saint Martins or FIT, and not everyone should. Just for you, we asked a bunch of fashion insiders -- from fashion editors such as Harper Bazaar's Kerry Pieri to designers like Trina Turk -- where they went to college and what they learned there.

Image Title2

Mickey Boardman, Editorial Director, Paper

School: Purdue University, Parsons School of Design

Major: BA in Spanish from Purdue. Almost BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons (I failed one class my senior year so never graduated).

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned that college is really about personal growth and development and that in life it sort of doesn't matter what you've studied or what you're an expert in, you can always try new things and don't need to feel limited. Unless of course you're talking about medicine. In which case you really do need to be an official doctor.

Image Title3

Taylor Tomasi Hill, Chief Coffee Runner, TTH LLC

School: Pratt Institute

Major: Industrial Design

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today?It's easy to overlook the most simple solution.

Image Title4

Kerry Pieri, Senior Digital Editor, Harper's Bazaar

School: Loyola University in Maryland

Major: Double Major in Journalism and Fine Arts with a Concentration in Photography

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? Obviously I utilize the journalism and creative writing aspects of my education and knowledge of photography and photographers goes a long way in fashion and online in particular—though I don't shoot personally. However, I think that going to a liberal arts school was advantageous overall because my job covers so many topics daily, from culture to art and literature -- I find I mentally reference so many works I learned about in school regularly.

Image Title5

Matthew Bires, Senior Publicity Director, KCD

School: Bowling Green State University (in Bowling Green, Ohio), Fashion Institute of Technology

Major: Apparel Merchandising and Product Development at Bowling Green; Applied Science, Advertising and Marketing Communications at FIT

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? Fake it till you make it...kidding!!! Hard work and a little midwest Ohio charm goes a long way.

Image Title6

Michelle Smith, Founder and Designer, Milly

School: Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC; ESMOD, Paris

Major: Fashion Design

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned how to deal with pressure--staying up sewing term garments and engaging in some healthy competition certainly prepared me for my runway shows!

Image Title7

Kerry Diamond, Restaurateur/Editorial Director of Cherry Bombe

School: The State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Major: English

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I had an amazing desktop publishing class with Dr. Ron Davis and not a day goes by that I don't use something I learned from that class. Also, I worked for the school newspaper and radio station from my first semester 'til my last and that experience was invaluable.

Photo by Rachel Scroggins

Photo by Rachel Scroggins

Sidney Prawatyotin, VP of Fashion at Krupp Group

School: Hunter, NYC

Major: Liberal Arts with a focus on Media

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned a great deal in college, but nothing about the "industry." I actually failed History of PR. I think the best way to learn about our industry is through internships. And by that I don't mean the tasks your superiors assign you, it's the friends you make along the way. It's golden.

Image Title9

Erica Cerulo, Co-founder, Of a Kind

School: University of Chicago

Major: International Studies (which was like International Relations with a cultural emphasis)

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? How to interact with all sorts of people. There are a lot of characters at University of Chicago -- in a good way!

Image Title10

Somsack Sikhounmuong, Head of Design, Madewell

School: Parsons The New School for Design

Major: Fashion Design

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? The amount of talent that this city, and specifically Parsons, attracts is incredible and humbling.

Image Title11

Phil Oh, Photographer, StreetPeeper.com

School: NYU

Major: History

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? Ummmmmm...?

Image Title12

Trina Turk, Fashion Designer and CEO, Trina Turk

School: University of Washington

Major: Apparel Design

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I spent endless hours sewing and thrift/vintage shopping during the years I lived in Bellevue and Seattle and while attending the University of Washington. These two activities are more connected than you might think -- vintage shopping is a lesson in garment construction and fabrics, and you can’t design a garment if you don’t know how it will be put together. Textile Science at the University of Washington is the class where I learned things that I still use every day.

Image Title13

Britt Aboutaleb, Editorial Director, Byrdie.com

School: Boston University

Major: English

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I actually think the social skills I learned in college have been the most helpful, career-wise. I did a short stint in a sorority, which taught me a lot about functioning in an all-female environment, and since BU was such a massive school (and Boston itself is like one giant university) I was surrounded by so many different types of people. Also, my senior year internship at Stella McCartney in London was like fashion school 101 -- I learned the difference between Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer, Marios Sorrenti and Testino, and the value of just getting things done without asking a lot of questions.

Image Title14

Imran Amed, Founder and Editor in Chief, The Business of Fashion

School: McGill University

Major: Finance and International Business

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? Problem solving, structural thinking and of course, how to build and run my own business.

Image Title15

Claire Mazur, Co-founder, Of a Kind

School: University of Chicago

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (basically a "mix and match your own major, so it was English with an emphasis on dramatic texts, Art History and Gender Studies)

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned to think critically -- to question things, to come up with own way of thinking about them, and to craft a solid argument around it all.

Image Title16

John Jannuzzi, Senior Digital Projects Editor, Lucky

School: Muhlenberg College

Major: Studio Art

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned a lot about dealing with people and networking. Anybody who tells you that isn't important in any industry is lying. My actual curriculum included a lot of history, and the basic concepts of design which in turn formed a lot of my opinions on collections and fashion in general. It also helps me pick out inspirations much faster. Style is cyclical and there are so many parallels to pick out between the art world and the fashion world. There are a few other art majors I've met in the industry and they all sort of say the same thing.

Image Title17

Lela Rose, Designer, Lela Rose

School: University of Colorado; Parsons School of Design

Major: At the University of Colorado I majored in Painting & Sculpture. Then I earned an Associates Degree in Fashion Design at Parsons.

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? That grit, not grades, is what gets you further in work and life.

Image Title18

Ruthie Friedlander, Senior Digital Manager, The Row

School: New York University, Gallatin School of Individualized Studies

Major: Computer Science and Journalism

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? In my role, I am constantly using my computer science skills, whether it's to manage the backend of a website, or in terms of how I approach problem solving. While I'm not longer an editor in the typical sense, my classes in journalism help me when constructing emails, writing press releases...you're always writing in every job and I'm glad to have that strong background.

Image Title19

Kaelen Haworth , Designer, Kaelen

School: Dalhousie Univerisity (in Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Major: English Literature

What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? The importance of having an honest and original voice. Also a drink or two helps.