Sarah Nusinow

One small area in B&J Fabrics contains bolts of fabrics piled from the floor to the ceiling.

Credit: DKS Editors

Kyle Smith, senior fashion design major, searches through an array of colorful bolts of fabric at B&J Fabrics in Manhattan. PHOTOS BY SARAH NUSINOW | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

New York–Buying fabrics and trimmings is a fact of life for fashion design students, but for the portfolio show in April, 23 seniors hit the streets in the city that never sleeps, hoping to find better fabrics and better deals for their perfect final collections.

“This trip is so important because there are no specialty fabric stores in Ohio,” said Maggie Hill, senior fashion design major. “But buying my fabric while we’re here will make my final piece look like something you would actually see in stores.”

The students and three faculty members left early Tuesday morning from Akron/Canton Airport and arrived in the garment district before 10 a.m. at Kent State’s New York studio in Manhattan, where students can spend a semester studying fashion.

The fashion school covered the majority of the air fare, $55 each way, leaving the students to pay the difference if the ticket was more expensive. Even though accommodations were made by the fashion school, students were responsible for their hotel bill. Some students think it was worth the cost.

“It’s amazing!” said Stephanie Green, senior fashion design major, “We’re getting the opportunity to see what’s really out there and we’re shopping in the same stores as Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren.”

Picture walking into a giant candy store, but replace the candy with different colors and kinds of fabrics. That is what B&J Fabrics and Mood Inc. were like. Finding them was difficult though, because both were in unmarked buildings.

“This is so much better than Jo-Ann’s because they have everything you need and a variety too,” said Sarah Bibbo, senior fashion design student.

Tuesday was devoted to getting sample swatches of fabric the students chose for their final collections. They gathered them from B&J Fabrics and Mood Inc. and sent them to the teachers for approval.

“We have big accounts here like Calvin Klein and other smaller ones too. We also have accounts for theaters, movies and magazines like Martha Stewart Living,” said Laura Rils, B&J Fabrics sales assistant.

Heading to other stores in the garment district, the students searched for cheaper fabrics that were the same, or similar, to their approved swatches so they could do all their buying Wednesday.

“I need fabrics, zippers, hook-and-eyes, buttons and elastics for my final pieces, and shopping for all of it in New York City is great because it’s cheaper and the color selection is great,” said Alicia Van Gilder, senior fashion design student.

Even though most of the trip is funded by Kent State, the actual cost of the final collection can be pricey for students.

Kayleigh Knight, senior fashion design student, was looking to buy three pelts along with the rest of her Cashmere-wool blends, cottons and knits, which alone cost her $330.

“I have loans and scholarships to help pay for it all, but even still I’m trying not to spend more than $1,000,” Knight said.

The students present somewhere between three to five final garments, which are chosen by their teachers at the portfolio show where students, faculty, community members and designers can attend to judge who they think is the next up-and-coming designer.

Contact fashion reporter Sarah Nusinow [email protected].