FSU named top fashion school in New England

Bailey Morrison / THE GATEPOST

FSU’s fashion design and retailing major was ranked 38th on a list of the top 50 fashion design schools in the U.S. by the nonprofit website Fashion Schools.

FSU was ranked first among schools in New England and 9th among schools in the East.

Fashion-schools.org focuses on connecting up-and-coming fashion designers interested in undergraduate programs with information about schools that offer studies in design, merchandising and retail.

Each year, the website puts out lists of the best fashion design programs in the country. The organization uses information such as number of courses offered, admissions selectivity, academic reputation, and cost to attend the school to determine if a university qualifies for a ranking.

FSU’s fashion design and retailing major is known around campus for the extravagant fashion show put together by students in the fashion club every year. Students are responsible for spending hours in the sewing labs designing their garments and creating their own brands to fit the theme of the fashion show.

Additionally, the program at FSU is unique in offering both fashion design and fashion merchandising, according to Pamela Sebor-Cable, chair of the program.

Sebor-Cable believes the program is so successful due to the internship and career opportunities in the MetroWest and Boston areas, in addition to the small class sizes and resources made available to students. “This [ranking] shows that we have a really strong department with hard-working students and faculty.”

On Sept. 12, the department hosted a meet and greet for faculty and students. While students rifled through stacks of fabric that were donated, they socialized with their professors and peers, and discussed upcoming projects they would tackle this semester.

Sebor-Cable said they host this annual event so students can benefit from the free materials, as well as get to know the professors outside of their classes.

She said some of the fabric was donated by businesses such as Talbots in addition to individuals in the community who have ties to the fashion department.

Tayah DuBois, a junior fashion design and retailing major, said, “The fashion department at Framingham has a really well-curated group of faculty who are experienced in the field and super helpful.”

She added, “My professors provide insider knowledge and apply personal experiences to what is being taught, which is cool. The major really relies heavily on experience, between the field study and the required internship for merchandise majors, which I think is crucial to the learning process.”

Fashion design and retailing professor Seunghye Cho has been teaching at FSU for nine years. Her areas of expertise are design, garment construction, and the history of fashion.

Cho believes the department received the accreditation due to the faculty’s focus on “academic excellence. … We have developed and maintained excellent alumni relationships. Many alums working at leading fashion companies and academia have provided links for our students within the fashion industry.”

She added, “Fashion is a cultural phenomenon. Studying fashion is learning not only to create garments or develop fashion businesses, but more importantly, how to help people to communicate their identity and ideas using fashion.

“I am so proud for the recognition of the academic excellence that our faculty members and students have strived to accomplish,” Cho said.

Rachel Noel, a senior and fashion merchandising major, said she “chose fashion at Framingham State because whenever I mentioned it was my major [choice], countless people told me how good the program was here. When I came here for freshman orientation, I was blown away and impressed with the selection of classes available.”

Virginia Noon, a professor in the fashion design and retailing department, has been working at FSU for ten years and has focused her efforts on exposing her students to “the real world” of fashion.

Before working at Framingham State, Noon said she worked in the fashion industry for 20 years on the “business side.” Her classes provide information to students regarding the financial and practical aspects of fashion design and merchandising.

She said through the internship program, she is able to offer students real-world experience in the fashion industry. In addition, the capstone course for all fashion design and retailing students requires them to build their own business plan and present it to a banker.

She said the accreditation the department received is a sign of recognition for all the hard work of the students and faculty.

Noon said, “Recognition, for us, really comes when we see our students’ success. The success really is when you help that student get that interview and they’re prepared and they go on that interview and they get that job.”

Ruirui Zhang, another professor in the fashion design and retailing department, has worked at FSU for four years. Due to the demand for fashion and the resources needed, Zhang focuses on sustainability efforts within the field of fashion and teaches classes that help students develop eco-conscious designs.

Zhang said she really enjoys the hands-on curriculum the department developed for students. “We really devote our time to the students’ learning from the beginning until the end.”

She said the department has earned the ranking and all the student and professors “work hard every day.”

President F. Javier Cevallos said the ranking the program received is a “testament to our outstanding faculty and talented students.”

He added, “You never want to put too much stock in one ranking – because they’re very subjective and different organizations use different criteria to establish their rankings – but the fact we are showing up in these rankings is a sign that people are taking notice of our programs.”

Junior fashion design major Kevin Follis said he initially chose Framingham State due to the campus size and short distance from his home, but added, “After working with the professors and faculty here, I really began to enjoy my time” at FSU.

He added, “Growing up, I realized I started to actually care about how I looked and what I wore. It became fun for me to put my outfits together and to really think about what I was wearing on my body.

“I figured I would try fashion and see if I liked it. It sounds cheesy – but I fell in love,” Follis said.

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