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Current and former Apparel and Textiles Design students gain VIP access to New York Fashion Week

September 14, 2017

After creating fashion collections that best incorporate the Spartan brand, MSU apparel and textiles design senior Emily Bankes and MSU alumnus Mitch Fehrle both won an opportunity of a lifetime, to spend the weekend behind the scenes at the nation’s largest fashion event.The two Spartan fashionistas won VIP passes to attend the renowned New York Fashion Week in New York City on Sept. 9 in a contest created by the Apparel and Textiles Design Program

Altogether, 11 students from six schools enjoyed VIP seating at a runway show, a private backstage tour and a networking dinner. Of all the schools, MSU was the only Big Ten school represented. 

The New York Fashion Week Experience was made available to MSU and other universities represented by The Collegiate Licensing Co., the licensing affiliate of IMG College. They are part of the WWE/IMG family, which also manages NYFW. 

The contest was open to IMG College schools that have fashion design programs. Each school’s student selection process was different, but MSU hosted an avant-garde design challenge and was the only school of the six to require students to create a collection, consisting of 11 illustrations and one concept piece. MSU’s Office of Licensing provided students Spartan-branded materials. 

Bankes, being relatively new to the program, was both ecstatic and emotional when she learned the news. Her hard work had paid off. 

“I honestly couldn’t believe it,” Bankes said. “I cried. I was so happy. I am actually pretty new to the apparel program at MSU. I had to change my major a lot. I wasn’t completely set on apparel and textiles design. I had taken one class a year and last year actually made the commitment to apparel and textiles design. ... I was like I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t at least give it a shot. I was just so in awe that it was going to happen.” 

To attend NYFW, one can't simply purchase a ticket, it's invite only. When looking at the weekend altogether, Bankes’ favorite part was two-fold. 

“Two really big things stuck out to me, one was just attending the fashion show in general," Bankes said. "It was something that I was so honored to do so just experiencing it in real time was so emotional. I almost cried several times throughout the show. I was in awe that it was actually happening. Second thing would be connecting with the different people with this love for fashion, all coming from different places.” 

Bankes and Fehrle collaborated with Academic Specialist, Rebecca Schuiling. Her connection with MSU Licensing Office helped give background on how the idea for the competition had originally been concocted. 

“The Director, Samantha Stevens, had been given an opportunity," Schuiling said. "There’s lots of people involved, but IMG and WME and basically the licensed college apparel, wanted to do something with the program. IMG was working with various universities, to have students submit some form of work to be accepted to go to NYFW. It was a competition, but it was basically up to each school to do what they wanted to do.” 

Bankes’ winning piece was a Spartan dress created from fleece, poplin and tulle, and incorporates different elements of the song “MSU Shadows.” 

Fehrles’ collection was inspired by a Spartan warrior. The seam lines are the major roads throughout campus, the 3D printed elements are notable landmarks and the translucent white panels represent the Red Cedar River. 

A 2017 graduate of MSU's Apparel and Textiles Design Program, Fehrle, now an alumnus, had won the contest right before graduation. Also currently a resident of Queens, NY, he happened to be in town at the right time. 

"The contest had happened at the very end of school, and so when I was applying, there was a selection process to be in the competition itself, it wasn't all students," Fehrle said. "When I was sending in the paperwork to be part of the competition, there was a month of school still. When I had signed up for the competition, I was still a student." 

"I felt appreciated that people had looked at my work and thought that it was valuable," Fehrle said. "I felt satisfied, because entering the competition, we had put in at least 100 hours in the drawing and  basically constructing the garment. It was sort of like a payoff having all that work mean something and be recognized." 

Both students show promise in their endeavors. The experience of gaining VIP passes to NYFW was surreal enough, which make this a stepping-stone in what experiences are held in their future.

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