"Students upset with lack of fashion classes, clubs at UB create their own paths"
Jillian Redash has wanted to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology's State University of New York (FIT) since she was in middle school. But because getting accepted is competitive, she decided to go to UB.
She regretted her decision.
UB does not offer a fashion major, and there is currently not a fashion club. Students are voicing their concerns about the lack of a fashion-forward community at UB. Some expected the university to offer experiences in the fashion industry during their undergraduate college career.
Redash, then a psychology major, transferred from UB to FIT after her freshman year.
"I knew that in four years I'd end up with a degree in something I wasn't truly passionate about," Redash said. "I'm very happy I'm now going to school for what I love: fashion."
Redash now has her associate's degree in Fashion Buying and Merchandising and is working to receive a bachelor's degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications.
Allison Deutschman, a senior English major, had a different experience. She attended Herkimer County Community College, where she studied Fashion Buying and Merchandising and debated between transferring to UB or FIT. She chose UB.
"Ultimately, I want to write fashion editorials and there isn't really a major for that here, so I had to make my own," Deutschman said. "UB doesn't seem motivated to embrace fashion or the fashion world, which surprised me."
Deutschman considered starting a fashion club but was discouraged when she heard about the last Student Association fashion club, which never grew during its temporary status.
Desiree Hill, who graduated from UB in May, attempted to resurrect the Fashion Student Association (FSA) during her time at UB. She was president of the group.
"I noticed there is a natural and free-flowing style amongst us UB students," Hill said. "To not have an open forum of creativity to share our inspirations came as a shock to me."
When Hill was president of FSA, she wanted members to be in touch with trends, so she led a small, fashion-forward group of people who had cultural influences from all over the world, she said.
Building a club took time, according to Hill, but her group managed to form an e-board. But nearly every member was either a junior or senior and had to focus more on studies than on FSA, she said.
Talia Foster, a sophomore communication major, wishes Hill's efforts resulted in a long-term group. She hopes to work in the fashion industry upon graduating and feels as though majoring in communication is "settling."
She chose to attend UB because she didn't want to attend FIT, so close to her home on Long Island. She is upset she couldn't have the "college experience" away from home while simultaneously studying what she loves.
Foster has found a way to advance in the field, though. Last summer, she interned at a fashion showroom called Ilene Oren & Company in New York City. This summer, she plans to do the same. But she still wishes she had the chance to take fashion classes throughout the year.
"Not only would it teach me more, but also I would enjoy coming to class so much more," Foster said.
Deutschman, too, finds her own ways to remain part of the fashion industry in the Queen City. She said she misses learning about the industry through classes, but Buffalo has provided her with alternative methods of learning.
Some of Deutschman's professors allow her to integrate her knowledge about fashion into her final papers. Also, her blog has gained exposure outside of the classroom.
"I was so excited to sit front row at Buffalo Fashion Week in September," Deutschman said. "I've also had the opportunity to attend various charitable fashion shows locally. It's the little things - fashion is here if you hunt for it."
Deutschman is not upset about choosing UB over FIT. Here, she is one of the only fashion bloggers, so she gets invitations to events because she can engage with a niche market: Western New York Fashionistas.
She also works in retail and style floor sets, giving her the ability to experiment with fashion creatively on a daily basis.
"It's all about being open-minded and working your way up," Deutschman said. "I had to acknowledge the fact I was going to be in Western New York when I transferred in - not a booming fashion metropolis. I had to work with it."
Hill said she would love to see a creative and energetic group of freshmen and sophomores bring back FSA.
The club is necessary on campus, Hill said.
"There are so many creative and stylish people who grace the halls daily at UB," Hill said. "There is a simplistic and unique style about a lot of students that you don't see anywhere in this area. A demographic like that must be shared."