Responding to a growing market demand for textile, surface and graphic print designers, the Academy’s School of Fashion has created associate, undergraduate and graduate degrees in the specialized field of textile design. The three new degrees were recently certified by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
These research-based programs focus on comprehensive design development to empower the next generation of designers and prepare them for careers in a global industry.
The development of textiles has held an important role in fashion history and continues to play an integral role in today’s fashion industry. According to the School of Fashion, this is due to the mutually inclusive nature of textile and fashion design inherent in the creation of highly functional garments and objects, as well as wearable art. The discipline requires designers to understand the historical and cultural role of textiles in a global context, to gain knowledge of various types of textiles, and to learn the design and production techniques required to create the textiles of tomorrow.
Executive Director of the School of Fashion Simon Ungless, a textile designer himself, moved from London to the Academy in 1996 and created the first labs and courses for textile design. Thanks to his work, the efforts of Rhona MacKenzie, Assistant Director—Textiles, and the team working in the labs, textile design has grown into an in-demand degree.
According to MacKenzie, before textile design became a degree, students took applied textile design classes and graduated with a fashion degree specialized in textile design. “Now there are students from different schools as well as those who want to pursue textile design as a fulltime career. The program has helped many young professionals discover their true calling in the industry.”
A fascinating field of study and work, textile design requires creative discipline, she says.
“You have to be always observing, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. You need to be awake, attuned to natural changes in colors and patterns. As the textile and surface design industry continues to grow, there is a corresponding demand for talented and well-trained designers.”
Student Awards Lead to Employment Opportuniites
A number of textile design students and alumni have already received industry accolades. Most recently, Carly Dean and Sumit Gill (MFA Textile Design) were named winners of the Joy & Mario Design Competition, an environmentally conscious footwear brand.
Each year, Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) selects promising designers from all over the world as the CFDA+ Design Graduates. Academy students are frequently honored among this who’s who among future industry leaders. In 2016, the Academy was represented by Ghazaleh Khalifeh, Elizabeth Siedow, Namrata Bhandari, Jadi Haynes and Amy Yip. These students took home five out of 10 textile awards worldwide—a phenomenal result, says MacKenzie. Khalifeh’s collection was also presented at Milan Design Week during the annual ARTS THREAD and DESIGNERSBLOCK exhibition.
In 2017, Pamela Toribio (BFA Textile Design) was named a finalist for one of the two $25,000 CFDA Scholarship Awards. In May 2017, the CFDA launched the Fashion Future Graduate Showcase featuring up to 100 top fashion graduates from three New York City schools: Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, and Pratt Institute in New York. Additionally, the program invited the Rhode Island School of Design and the Fashion School at Academy of Art University to join the inaugural showcase.
The CFDA recognizes the vital need to support fashion graduates’ transition from education to career development. This curated exhibition two-day event connects exemplary graduates to professional opportunities across all design specializations including apparel, accessories, jewelry, textiles/materials, technical design and relevant emerging career pathways such as sustainable fashion. Fourteen of the Academy’s Fashion students were selected, including Carly Dean (MFA Textile Design) and Christina Miyagi (BFA Textile Design). The CFDA launched the Fashion Future Graduate Digital Showcase on CFDA.com with the portfolios of the 14 Academy students selected for the curated exhibition, as well as eight additional School of Fashion students, including Sahara Aldrich (MFA Textile Design).
Program alumni have secured design positions at top international companies, including Anthropologie, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, St. John Knits, Vera Wang and Chrysler.
“In the future, I would like that our students win all of the top prizes,” laughs MacKenzie. “We are seeing a more diversely motivated crowd in the class: people who want to design all kinds of surfaces, not only clothing, but also paper, interiors, solutions for the automotive industry and so on. We would like for this trend to grow.”
The Academy Textile Design program is structured to equip students with the latest technical skills and foster creative vision in a systematic way: 60 units for AA degree, 132 for BFA and 63 for MFA. Here’s the first group of graduates (spring and summer 2017) in Textile Design:
• Sahara Aldrich (MFA)
• Carly Dean (MFA)
• Marianne Grobman (MFA)
• Christina Miyagi (BFA)
• Nikita Ravindranath (MFA)
• Veronica Strati (BFA)
• Ashley Strunk (BFA)