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new york fashion study College of Design

Saturday, June 4, 2016

An Afternoon at the Met

On the last leg of our trip we had the opportunity to visit the MET. Having visited the city a couple times before, this was something that has always been on my list. If you have never visited before, I highly recommend taking an afternoon to spend just reveling in all of its beauty. Everything from its architecture, the aesthetic, and most importantly the art is enough to make one speechless (which trust me, I was).

Manus v. Machina was on display at the time and it truly took my breath away. The creativity that went into each and every piece is jaw-dropping. As i walked through the exhibit, carefully inspecting each garment and all of its wonder, I felt beyond inspired. I was in the presence of all the greats: Chanel, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga!

For someone so interested in fashion, this was the icing on the cake for this week. To see the thought put into each detail to create these beautiful pieces is what it's all about.

Plus you can't forget the other greats housed in this beautiful museum: Van Gogh, Matisse, and Monet. These artists were just as inspiring. To be in the presence of these highly valued works of art sent chills down my back.

So thankful to have experienced an afternoon at the Met, but next time I'm planning a full day to conquer the 2 millions square feet of art.


Sem Sem: Mother/Daugther Apparel

This luxury apparel design house was inspired by the bond between mothers and daughters. The collection of mostly resort wear honors the relationship between mothers and their daughters. The pieces themselves are produced with the same color schemes and detailing just in different silhouettes  for both the mom and her daughter. 

Upon walking in, you can see many workers hunched over machines and patterns making sure that each garment is executed with special care and consistency. Overlooking all of this is Susan Lam. We had the opportunity to chat with her about the brand as well as all of her responsibilities. As she is the main factory director, she has a very personalized relationship with each worker in the factory. She noted she will have workers texting her at 8 in the morning with questions. She is also running all around the city between locations to make sure that every single step is being executed correctly and efficiently.

Listening to her describe her daily activities was enough to make one ready for a nap. She stressed how important flexibility is to her. One must be ready for anything at any time. They hold selling events all over the world, which means everything must always be in place. With garments retailing on average for about $2,000, Susan said there is no room for a mistake. Everything must perfectly match the colors of the season, the fabrics must be the best quality, & everything is sourced from the best of the best. 

Her hard work & dedication was inspiring. It is refreshing to see someone passionate about their career and all of the work that they are doing. She snuck myself and a couple other girls into the room downstairs where most of the cutting for the garments is done. Right away she entered and knew everyone by name. It was such a genuine experience coming out of a company that sells luxurious garments to a high end clientele. 

I strongly encourage you to watch this  video that emphasizes the bond between mother and daughter and why the garments produced by Sem Sem are more than just a piece of clothing.


Asian Cuisine Culture Scavenger Hunts in NYC

New York is a big crowd city like a melting pot mix with different culture perspective from all over the world. Lots of migration from other countries caused the diversity of culture. Cuisine Culture is a big part of our life. As a big fan of Asian food, I can’t wait to explore the eating opportunity in the New York City. 

I originally came from Xi’an, China. Therefore, my first stop in New York is to get some Chinese food from my hometown. 
The name of the Chinese restaurant is Xi’an Famous Food, a family-run business that only based on New York City. It’s a fast-casual restaurant that serves authentic Northern Chinese dishes. Since its founding, Xi’an Famous Foods has gained much popularity. Many celebrities have been to here, and it also featured in many television shows as well as magazines. 
Since most of the dishes are originally spicy, they allow customers decide the level of spiciness, range from not spicy to very spicy. Therefore, anyone could go and try them out. 
I got spicy cold noodles and Chinese burger. They taste really good and makes me miss my hometown a lot. 


The hotel we live is close to the Korean Town, where you can find authentic Korean cuisines such as Korean barbecue and Asian dessert. Therefore, my second stop is to explore food opportunities in Korean Town.
I tried a famous BBQ restaurant called Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong.
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong established in 2012. Since it opened in Korean, it has been growing tremendously and spread to the U.S. It is a Korean-style dining with a distinctive taste and excellent service, where the server will help you do the barbecue and explain the food in detail. 
Taste Korean barbecue the way it should taste and experience the Korean cuisine culture in K-town!

Facebook page:

My third stop is a Japanese Restaurant in Manhattan. The name of the restaurant is Yakitori Totto, where you can get all kinds of grilled skewers. It is a good place to feel the Japanese skewing cuisine culture. 

Yelp website:

The day before we left NYC, I went to Flushing, where makes you feel like a small town in the city. When I get off the subway, I feel I was in the real China. Everything here is written primarily in Chinese, and you can barely hear people speak English. Since I was late when I get there, I just went to a Hong Kong restaurant to and had some dim sum as midnight snake. However, it still tastes great! 

Hope my experience will help you guys find some interesting place to eat in New York City!

Retail Merchandising

Popsicles in the Park

Popsicles in the Park
May 25th, 2016

Before beginning our adventure in NYC, I had decided that I wanted to use my spare time to explore the vast culture of New York and live like a "true New Yorker" (of course, there was some shopping too!). After our appointments were done for the day, a group of us set out to Brooklyn to relax (and people watch) at Washington Square Park. One added bonus to this adventure was that Washington Square Park is located near NYU's campus. We were able to walk around/see what a University across the country is like which was a very cool experience. 

One thing that we did not anticipate was the heat! Coming from Minnesota, we weren't expecting the sun to be shining so bright at 6 PM. We figured our best solution was to get a cold (but still yummy) treat from a food cart; popsicles! 

We spent an hour just relaxing/sitting, talking, and people watching around the fountain that was in the middle of the park. One of the most interesting things that we saw was people participating in something called "acro-yoga". There was a group of 15 people taking turns balancing on each other in yoga poses. We even got the chance to talk to one of the yogi's and he recommended we give it a try. We weren't dressed for the occasion but keep your eye's peeled for a U of M acro-yoga group next fall! ;)

-- Maggie

Sweatshops? In America?

So what exactly does "Made in America" mean anyway? Does it mean that employees are making these clothes in fancy factories? Does it mean that these employees are making enough money to support themselves and their families in an expensive city like New York City? Reality hit me after visiting SemSem as I was exposed to working conditions that I wouldn't consider "fair." I was in a factory in the United States but I immediately compared the space to factories in China where sweatshops exist.

A sweatshop  is a factory or workshop, especially in the clothing industry, where manual workers are employed at very low wages. Sweatshops often have poor working conditions, unreasonable hours, and a lack of benefits for workers.

The picture to the left was taken in the SemSem factory. This picture also resembles many sweatshops that I have seen in documentaries and protests recognizing poor labor conditions. This factory was tight, the room was small and workers had with little space to work. Not to mention, pipes, pieces of wood, and cords were hanging everywhere; it looked like a safety hazard ready to happen. It was also extremely hot in the factory, emphasizing the word 'sweat' in sweatshop. I was terribly uncomfortable in the little time that I spent in the factory, I can't even imagine how the workers felt working long hours standing in that heat and crammed area.

Although I can't say specifically what the employees in SemSem's factory are making, I can say with confidence that it isn't much. Especially compared the price that the garments they make sell for. SemSem produces garments for The Row and other high end lines. These garments sell anywhere from $495-$1500. I was surprised to learn that garments with such high value and sold at such high prices were produced in a factory like this.

When I used to think of "Made in America," I envisioned something much more glamorous. However, my trip to SemSem's factory changed my outlook completely. There are people all over the world that pacifically only purchase items made in America and there are also people who protest anything made outside the United States. It would be interesting to here what "Made in America" means to them. Have they seen what I have now seen? Are the labor conditions that much better in America?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Soho Shopping

One of my favorite parts of the trip was, you guessed it... the shopping! On our last day in NYC, a couple of my friends and I hopped on the Subway and headed to Soho, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan.  Soho is known for great trendy shopping and the area encompasses many of the stores on my list to visit while in New York as well as local boutiques, street vendors, and so much more. 


We popped into a few different stores that do not have locations back in Minnesota such as Topshop, Brandy Melville, Zara, and others. Aside from these stores, the street vendors had a variety of accessories for sale at extremely affordable and haggle-friendly prices; in fact, each one of us ended up picking up a different colored plain baseball cap for only $6 each!

Aside from the shopping, everyone wandering the Soho streets was dressed a bit different than where we were staying in Midtown. Stylish shoppers sported a variety of different trends and looks effortlessly, which created a cool environment and overall vibe to the area. The old, cast-iron architecture of the buildings in Soho is also definitely worth a mention. We even spotted (and talked to) a model easily recognizable from the 2016 H&M and Free People advertisements! I am already dying to go back.


RJM Group

RJM Group is a sales marketing and brand development company with a showroom for new and upcoming designers.  RJM is named after its three original founders: Rita, Jeffery, and May; we were lucky enough to have Rita, one of the founders and president of RJM, speak to us about RJM as well as give us her insight and advice on the industry.

Rita explained to us that RJM Group finds new designers who have not just a good product, but an idea of what they are doing and where they are going.  Prototypes are a must when Rita is looking at new designers.  Rita said she must be careful and strategic in who she takes on as clients.  Once Rita has partnered with an emerging brand, she works with them start to finish on developing their product and getting it into stores.  As for retail connections, she works with some big names including Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York and more.  She also uses trade shows and a new program called Constant Contact, which is an easy online way contact and connect with potential buyers.  Some of the brands we got to see in the RJM Group showroom include an accessories collection Rita launched in collaboration with her daughter's, the Beirn Collection, as well as other brands such as ggMAUL and Beatriz Accessories.

As for Rita herself, she began with a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing - probably not what you would expect huh? She found her way to the fashion industry by working for Saks Fifth Avenue in various roles, then moving to Badgley Mischka, and finally opening up her own business.  She gave us some useful advice based on her experiences and knowledge of the industry. "Take advantage of every opportunity ... read a lot ... work in retail ... ask questions," ... these are some of her main points which really hit home with me.  Overall, I think all of us not only enjoyed ourselves while listening to Rita, but also learned a whole lot! Thanks RJM!


Food Trucks

 I noticed one thing right away when we first started roaming the streets of NYC: the delicious smell of fried food on every street. Every food truck we passed I quick glanced over the menu keeping a mental note of which food trucks I wanted to stop at. I was amazed by the amount of food trucks on the street and the lines that crowded outside of them. My initial thought was, "How do these all survive?" I later realized that it is because the ridiculous amount of people that walk through the streets of NYC that they have no problem keeping up their business. Prior coming to New York I heard a few things about the food; they have good bagels, great pizza, and their food trucks are phenomenal. So, I wanted to test that out for myself. Like I said earlier, I scoped out a couple hundred it felt like, until I found the right one. Dollar Dogs! It was perfect. I ordered my dollar hot dog and in the first bite I realized I had chosen the right one. I was so satisfied with my decision that I quickly got a second.

 What is better than a good hot dog? A cheap and good hot dog! People in NYC seem to be always on the go, so food trucks are perfect for that lifestyle. I did enjoy my nice sit down dinners that I had, but for a quick and easy lunch, the food truck was a perfect option. I later tried the ice cream food truck. It was also wonderful. Back home in Minnesota I saw a few food trucks here and there, but I never thought to try them out. After my experience in New York, I will definitely be stopping at the next food truck that I see in Minneapolis!

Greta Crowe
Retail Merchandising
University of Minnesota

Street Art in the City

I have always been a fan of street art. Minneapolis is full of some beautiful murals, but I knew New York would also hold a huge variety of different works of art. Before our trip I stumbled upon an Instagram picture of a wall decorated in a pair of large wings that a girl was standing in front of. The wall was black and the wings were filled in with doodle and henna like designs as well as random objects. As I looked more closely at the image I noticed that the artist painted a hashtag reading #WhatLiftsYou with her Instagram handle @KelseyMontagueArt. I went to her page and website because I loved her designs. I soon found that she has painted dozens of wing murals all over the world including Sydney, Australia, Los Angeles, California, and even New York City. I became determined to find some of her street art during my time in New York.

When we got to New York I was very excited to see all the street art around the city. There was a clothing store on the corner of 35th St. and Avenue of Americas that we continued to pass called Desigual. This entire two story and corner building was a mural itself full of brightly colored mandala designs. This building was beautiful, but I was still determined to find my wings so with a little internet searching I was able to figure out what streets some of Kelsey Montague's artwork could be found on. Emily and I began our trek to little Italy to find one of the sets of wings that decorate the city, but we not successful. We did find some other lovely and very colorful murals. After a little more Instagram creeping we figured out that a pair of the wings I was in search of could be found a few blocks from the Flat Iron Building. After almost a week in the city, I finally got my picture with my wings! I was so happy that I found what I was looking for, and when I posted my picture one of my friends who studied abroad in Australia commented that she loves that artist as well and saw multiple murals of hers while she was in Sydney. As the week continued, Emily and I decided to start working on our designs by sketching in central park. We sat on a bench and I quickly noticed all the people biking, running, pushing strollers, etc. and was inspired to design an active wear line for women in the city. I immediately thought that the patterns and designs in Kelsey Montague's street art would be perfect for a variety of sports wear pieces like leggings because I saw so many women in Central Park with patterned leggings and couldn't help but to imagine the street art design as a pair of leggings. Overall, my entire trip to New York was inspiring, but my time observing and sketching in Central Park and the mural I was so excited to find ended up truly inspiring my design project.



I was ten years old when I first visited New York, and I was visiting family with my parents. I distinctly remember being afraid by the loud noises being produced by the impatient drivers waiting for what seemed to be hours navigating through the crowds of people. I was perplexed by the subway system. Yes, I had heard about the subway and understood its purpose, but I was utterly confused and slightly intimidated by my experience with it. My parents and I stayed in at the Marriott hotel near the Brooklyn bridge. Nearly eleven years later I had met Brooklyn again challenging the perception I had formed of the city.

It had been approximately two years since I had seen my family and the first time I had visited them on my own. The ferry which was a mere four dollars was the mode of transportation that I took from Uptown to Brooklyn. Upon stepping onto the dock I was pleasantly surprised that the unwelcoming perception I had formed eleven years ago had melted right in front of my eyes. First and foremost I was captivated by Jane's Carousel which is encompassed by glass walls. When I was a child the carousel was my favorite ride so of course I was going to ride it. In addition to the majestic carousel, the first visible sight once placing a foot on the dock is the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory which is the shape of a lighthouse. Neither Jane's Carousel nor the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory were attractions that I remember when I visited my family eleven years ago.

Walking through Brooklyn by the pier, I felt that I was in Europe as cobble stones pave the streets. I would have never had known this until my family had told me, but there is a popular spot where tourists come to take pictures. At this location, there is view of the Empire State building that can be seen right through the Brooklyn Bridge. Traveling alone I would have never thought to stop and take a picture, but I'm glad I did.

Visiting Brooklyn again, I formed a new impression of the city. Unlike eleven years ago I felt safe in the city and I enjoyed that although it is close to Manhattan, Brooklyn is far more relaxed.

The RJM Group

The RJM Group is a full service luxury brand development firm and show room. We got the privilege to talk with Rita Overzat who is founder and president of RJM. RJM was founded in 2001and continues to grow and expand daily. Rita helps to develop designers products and changes them to make them better. Designers come to her with a product and an idea and she works out the challenges and gets a sense of how well a product will do and what needs to change in order to make it successful. After a few months of working with a designer, she does a summary to see if the product is going to work out or not. She is very cautious with who she takes because she knows not everyone is going to be the right fit for her. She doesn't just sell to certain places, she is in hair salons, department stores, etc. She is cautious about what will be successful in a certain store. The RJM Group consistently creates accounts for their represented brands with the most prestigious retailers in the world including: Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Lane Crawford. Rita becomes a mentor to the people she is working with, she does more than just expand their brand. Speaking with Rita was a great experience. She had so much to offer us and provided us with a lot of insightful tips and information that will be helpful in our future. I am so glad we got to come learn about her life and her successful career with RJM Group.

Greta Crowe
Retail Merchandising
University of Minnesota

Harlem: African American culture

During the NY study tour, I was able to meet up with a friend in Harlem. Harlem is such an amazing place with a lot of history and culture, particular to the African American community. While in Harlem I was able to visit Sylvias, the Apollo, and a few other venues in the heart of Harlem.

Sylvias Soul Food Restaurants 

Sylvia Woods is known as the Queen of soul food, her restaurant is located in the historical village of Harlem and has been there since 1962. Sylvia has so much heart and soul within the African American community, the restaurant even hosts Sunday gospel shows. The menu consists of southern soul food; including items such as, southern fried chicken and grits, sauteed chicken livers, cornmeal dusted catfish, chicken and waffles, and many more delicious soul food items. I had the classic chicken and waffles, and my friend had chicken, greens, and macaroni. If I could eat at this place everyday I would. Obama has even visited Sylvia's. Besides having amazing southern comfort food, Sylvia's also gives back to the community by hosting events, and providing scholarships for college students.

Although I didn't get to catch a show, I was so happy to even stand outside of the building of the famous Apollo theater. This theater has seen some of the best acts of all time including,The supremes,  James Brown, Bill Cosby, Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, and many more famous acts. The Apollo theater has given many Africans Americans an opportunity to share their talents in America. It was founded in 1913 during segregation between whites and blacks. This theater means so much to the African American community, and I am so happy that I was able to see the building. I plan on going back to NY to actually see a show at the Apollo theater.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

GAP, Inc.

At the first day of our professional appointments in New York, we visited the GAP, Inc. on 55 Thomas Street.

GAP is an American worldwide clothing and accessories retailer. As we walked in the building, the bright and big title of “GAP, Inc.” caught my eyes. There is also an Ads poster next to the brand title. The smile and outfits of the model on the poster give us a fresh feeling to overcome the hot weather outside.
Ad Poster on the first floor

This office in New York is the Global Creative Center. The atmosphere is relaxing and energetic in the office. As we walk through, there are lots of slogans and posters on the wall such as “We are conduits of creative culture”, which full of passion.

There are two speakers give us a presentation about GAP company. Ashley and Natsoko are both work for Merchandising and International Franchise. Since Gap is a globally brand, they need to focus on the product development and make sure products have the same feeling in every country as well as fit different culture and seasons. 

During their presentation, they showed us lots of videos about the history and big picture of the GAP. It is interesting to see how many GAP opened all over the world and how people passionate about the brand. 

What’s more, Ashley and Natsoko shared their experience of working in a fashion retail industry. They told us that have lots of working experience is extremely important. Also, we need to keep in touch with all the profession people we met because more connection we had, more chance we will get. Besides, always be brave when working, says something is better than nothing. 

Don’t stop on one thing; always going and trying different things, and step ahead! 

Retail Merchandising

252 West 37th Street - 3rd Floor

252 West 37th Street - 3rd Floor is a small space that does an array of work to improve the garment industry. In between the four walls and steel metal windows, TrimLab successfully runs their business (along with the back room where thousands of zippers and other products are held). TrimLab has successfully impacted new and old businesses in designing and manufacturing clothing for about two and half years now. But, it wasn't until my appointment with Dave and Dave that I realized how important their work really is.

How important is a zipper, anyways? To Dave and Dave, it was important enough to create a zipper sculpture to celebrate 100 years. Trends change and new styles are introduced on a regular basis, but the zipper has always remained the same (aside from the wide variety of widths and colors, of course.) Perhaps that fact can explain just how important the zipper is to a garment and the person wearing it. 

Me, and I imagine most, are not ones to go shopping for the perfect zipper, hook, or piece of trim. Instead we look at a garment as a whole–the fabric, the design, and the fit of the apparel item. I imagine that is why consumers often overlook this important step that goes into the manufacturing process. Dave described it like a baseball game: if one player makes an error, it could cost them the whole game and that player may even be hated forever. Just like in a baseball game, if a zipper or piece of trim is done incorrectly, hundreds of garments could be ruined and consumers may not purchase that brand again.

A zipper, clasp, clip, or any piece of trim can make or break any part of an outfit. However, these small parts of a garment don't go noticed until something goes wrong. These small pieces are what hold the entire product together, without these pieces functioning properly, a garment becomes unwearable. This is what makes the TrimLab's work so important. The TrimLab provides quality products so that consumers don't even have to think about what kind of zipper is on the cute shirt they want.

So here is an appreciation post–to the TrimLab, a company that often goes unnoticed by consumers. TrimLab understands their importance to the garment industry and are an ethical business that works hard to make sure there are no errors in a baseball game. TrimLab offers over 3,500 different items and all of their products are tested and examined ethically so consumers don't have to worry about purchasing a garment with a bad zipper or a clasp that will come undone.