Italy, New York give fashion students indescribable experiences

Paige Miller

Fashion students at Kent State have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the fashion capitals of the world, while also pursuing their degree through education abroad programs in New York City and Florence, Italy.

Cooper Robar, a sophomore fashion design major, said he decided to study in Florence during the Fall 2017 term because of the city’s history, culture and art.

“I’m really inspired by Italian fashion from the Baroque and Rococo time periods,” Robar said. “The idea of incorporating that into modern and contemporary fashion is such an interest of mine. Where else to learn a lot more about it than the place it came from?”

Students studying in Florence are located in the birthplace of many fashion empires, including Gucci, while students in New York study in the heart of the Garment District. As part of both programs, Robar said students are allotted more time for their coursework in order to focus on other career-propelling and culturally-enriching opportunities.

“I heard Florence is a very lenient program, and they understand that you’re going to be traveling, so they give more time for due dates to accommodate you,” Robar said.

Enya Hennings, a junior fashion merchandising major who is currently studying in New York City, said she wanted more fashion experience after returning from London, so she decided to travel to New York.

“One of my favorite parts about the New York program are the professors. They have such an array of experiences and are the type who have settled down to teach after having incredible careers in fashion,” Hennings said. “Learning from them has been one of the most enriching and worthwhile parts of my experience.”

Hennings said the transition from Kent to a big city is overwhelming at first for most students in the program.

“The coursework in the beginning was pretty light, but relevant. As the semester (has) gone on though, the pressure has definitely increased to get projects done,” Hennings said. “Deadlines have shortened as we’ve adjusted to living here.”

Students interested in either program must complete a study abroad application, and while most students are placed in their desired city, some choose to participate in both programs.

Margaret Manning, a senior fashion merchandising major, spent the Fall 2016 term in New York City and decided to study in Florence immediately following for the current Spring 2017 term.

“I chose both because I wanted to gain an experience outside of Kent’s fashion world,” Manning said. “There’s a different aspect of fashion from state to state and country to country. I had to see it firsthand.”

Ultimately, Manning said whether students choose to study in New York or Florence, the opportunities surpass experiences in a typical classroom and create an irreplaceable memory.

“I think Italy has been the biggest breakthrough. New York was an amazing adventure, but it didn’t even come close to what I have experienced in Italy,” Manning said. “Italian fashion is authentic and holds history. Being here brings a new light into my love for fashion. It ignites an undiscovered interest I never knew I needed to know.”

Paige Miller is the fashion reporter, contact her at [email protected].