Wildcats In New York

New York Fashion Week is where some of the most prestigious designers come together to share their imaginations with passionate audiences and set the next year’s fashion trends. See what happens when two Arizona undergrads go behind the scenes.

An exciting collaboration between IMG Collegiate Licensing Company and the University of Arizona's Retailing and Consumer Sciences program and Arizona BookStores opened the door for two undergraduates, Kylee Hum and Makenna Downing, to put what they've learned to work. Not only were they challenged to create a window-display presentation for the BookStores, which they won, but they were also two of only a few selected by IMG nationally to go behind the scenes at NYFW. Here is their weekend recap.

Thursday Night — Arrival in New York

A driver picked us up at the airport and took us to the Arlo Hotel in SoHo. To our surprise, there were gift bags from IMG in our rooms and New York Fashion Week pamphlets. After settling in, we went downstairs for a group dinner and debrief at Harrold's where we met around 15 girls from other universities and the IMG team.

 

Friday 9 a.m.

After breakfast, we were split into smaller groups. Our group went off to Victoria's Secret PINK in Times Square, where we saw casting rooms, design spaces, a room for window displays and their color lab. We also met with a Victoria's Secret panel who talked about different campaigns and shared their job roles.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch

We all met back up at The Smith restaurant for a delicious three-course meal and to share all of our morning adventures. After lunch, we were off to Bloomingdale's corporate offices to meet with their executive team in a panel discussion. We took a deep dive into the Bloomingdale's office environment and how their team works to differentiate and grow their widespread, high-end brand image.

The very first executive to speak with us was the fashion director at Bloomingdale's. Her role
is the exact combination of everything I want to be doing. — Makenna Downing

5:30 p.m.

Next was Spring Studios, which is an agency that helps prestigious designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg and Calvin Klein put on their shows at Fashion Week. After a panel discussion with the IMG team, they surprised us with a fashion show in front of us in the skybox! The designer was Chiara Boni. We realized how much timing and planning goes into each show for a single run-through and one live show, only lasting between 4-12 minutes.

We had some free time that evening to explore, so we headed to Times Square. The lights were amazing. And of course, we had to end the day with a slice from Ray’s Pizza.

 

Saturday 6 a.m.

Since we didn’t need to meet the group until lunchtime, we figured we’d get more New York time in. We woke up early and headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We should have looked at their hours beforehand. There we were, in eight-degree weather, standing outside a locked museum. At least we could peek inside. Since we were there, we took a walk around Central Park. Then, it was back to the hotel.

12 p.m. — Lunch

Lunch was at Walker's with IMG followed by a full Spring Studios tour of the fashion show venues. There were rows of activation booths where models got their hair and makeup done.

2:15 p.m.

Each of us had an exclusive pass to the IMG VIP lounge to see a special panel Q&A discussion. The stage featured women from a diverse group of professions, from fashion to filmmaking. Each woman was inspiring in her own industry. And they all started from the bottom, putting in hard work and dedication to be successful.

Amelie Wang — that was my favorite. Seeing my culture in
New York City and seeing the little kids. — Kylee Hum

6 p.m.

It was time for more fashion shows! The first was Concept Korea featuring streetwear design. The show was about 15 minutes long and showcased two lines. Then at 9 p.m. was Amelie Wang’s show, which featured fashion for children.

10:30 p.m.

Instead of going out that night, we ordered in at the hotel. We were exhausted and recapped with everyone before bed. We were all crying, unable to believe what we'd experienced with new friends for life.

I couldn't stop saying 'thank you.' I didn't want it to end. — Makenna Downing

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Kylee Hum | Major: Retail Sciences
"The university gave me so much. All I had to do is just say 'yes.'"

Kylie Hum is a Retail Sciences senior, graduating in May 2019. Originally from San Diego, she came to Arizona when her mom pushed her to go and study what she loves. She says, "New York Fashion Week has always been a bucket list thing. I wanted to be on project runway but didn’t know how to sew. So that was out. Ultimately, I want a job where I love going to work and it doesn’t feel like work."

Hum has been very involved at the university, joining the club tennis team as a freshman and CALS Pals sophomore year — mentoring for a one-unit class that helps freshmen adjust to college life. And this is her third and final semester on the board as an ambassador for the Retailing Center where she acts as a liaison between students and corporate partners. Being a part of this club has helped her develop leadership, communication and time management skills.

After graduation, Hum has accepted a position at Walmart eCommerce as a category specialist, due in part to a recruitment conference hosted by the Retailing Center. “At the conference,” Hum shares, “I went up to Walmart eCommerce and learned more about the role. It seemed like something I could see myself doing so I applied online. I think interacting with them at the conference helped my online application stand out.” However, after her NYFW experience, a move to New York to work in the fashion industry could also be in the distant future.

 


 

Makenna Downing | Major: Communications | Minor: Fashion

"My fashion minor is a completely hands-on experience. It doesn't feel like I'm going to school. I'm having the time of my life."

Makenna Downing came to Arizona from Temecula in Southern California. Her mom and grandmother worked with a popular shopping center, South Coast Plaza, on their marketing campaigns, so Downing had a connection with fashion from a young age. When other kids got toys for their birthdays, she got a mannequin and sewing machine. In high school, she was in the fashion club where she designed and made garments for the school’s fashion show.

Since coming to Arizona, Downing has put her ambition to work and will graduate in three years. She is in Alpha Phi, the sorority, which she describes as "motivating." And when her fashion professor Charlotte Padilla told Downing she had to apply to the IMG window display contest, she went all in — and it paid off.

Her experience at New York Fashion Week solidified her future plans to do her master's in marketing next year and then move to New York for another master's at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She describes her NYFW trip as "Amazing. Literally the best experience of my life and I can't express enough gratitude about the opportunity."