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Fashion Industry Pros Share Insight with Academy of Art University Students

Speaking to a full house, fashion designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright of brand Rag & Bone and Creative Director of eBay Fashion Andrea Linett shared their experience in the industry. School of Fashion students were eager to learn from the guests’ valuable insights and to ask a few questions of their own.

Presentation of Rag & Bone's Collection

The event was the second in April to host fashion icons at Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion. At the beginning of the month, famous New York Dandy Patrick McDonald and Jim Howard, author of Four Famous Dandies, participated in a question and answer session with students.

Moderated by Fashion Marketing instructor Gabriel Gima, the recent event featuring Neville, Wainwright and Linett included a conversation and a question and answer session as well as a presentation of Rag & Bone's collection.

This exclusive event came just as students were working especially hard to prepare for the second half of the semester, inspiring and motivating them, noted Gima. “The timing of the event was perfect,” he said. “It made them realize why they are putting in all this work.”

David Neville and Marcus Wainwright
of Rag & Bone

Hearing Neville and Wainwright’s story had a profound impact on the students. Though they began their line with no formal fashion training, their goal to create clothes that they and their friends would love to wear every day quickly resonated with the market.

Since launching their brand in 2002, the pair has won the Swarovski Emerging Talent Award in Menswear and been named the 2010 Menswear Designers of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Their brand now operates four flagship stores and encompasses men’s and women’s clothing, footwear and accessories collections, which are sold in high-end boutiques and department stores around the world.

Fashion Merchandising student Laura Wolfe was drawn to the event to listen to the two Rag & Bone founders. “I’ve never attended an event where a famous designer spoke, so I was curious,” she said. “I am trying to expand my knowledge of the fashion world as much as possible.”

School of Fashion Students

As designers who began their collection without formal training, the Rag & Bone designers’ experience was enlightening for both Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising students.

“Design students and art students don’t always realize the impact that consumer access and marketing can have on the opportunity to sell products in a brand’s line,” said Gima. “Rag & Bone brought the importance of marketing to their brand, hiring a PR and ad agency very early on. They also make sure they take care of their collections.”

That dual focus, particularly on display in the company’s new DIY ad campaign, impressed Fashion student Darma Saptura. The campaign put cameras in the hands of four female models, each of whom documented their daily lives while wearing the Rag & Bone collection.

“It is really interesting because it’s a new idea,” said Darma. “This kind of advertisement makes the brand really relate to us, and that’s what attracts people to buy the products.”

Andrea Linett,
Creative Director of eBay Fashion

Andrea Linett brought a different background to the event. She is currently the Creative Director of eBay Fashion, and previously, she worked as the Creative Director of fashion magazine Lucky. From her time at the innovative shopping magazine, Linett has been able to bring a glossy, editorial feel to eBay Fashion.

A chance to hear from Linett attracted student Jen Cremer to the event. “Andrea’s story was most intriguing to me,” said Jen. “She didn’t study to become what she is today. She worked her way up in the industry and made a name for herself, which is what I plan on doing.”

During the question and answer session, speakers Wainwright, Neville and Linett answered numerous questions from the audience. They then graciously stayed to speak with students and instructors.

“They were very kind and generous with their time, staying until the bitter end talking with students,” said Gima.

At the event students were also invited to participate in the “Color Collection T-shirt Design Contest” hosted by CFDA and vitaminwater®. Students can design a T-shirt in one of the signature vitaminwater colors and enter to win the chance to have their design sold alongside T-shirts by CFDA designers and a $5,000 grant to help start their fashion career.

Gabriel Gima, School of Fashion Instructor

In keeping with the event’s inspiring and motivating tone, Darma Saptura was especially impressed with Wainwright’s response to her question, “Have you ever given up on the path to be ‘you’ now?”

Wainwright told her that he had given up on a different career path to get to where he is today. He had previously been working at a telecommunications company, which he left to become a designer.

For Darma, his answer reinforced her commitment to her dreams. “The conclusion I get from his answer is that when you feel horrible doing something, it is OK to give up, but then you have to make a change. Not just give up and do nothing,” she said.


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