Thanks to the support of Tommy Hilfiger, founder of his namesake brand, students in Elmira College’s Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School program recently had some hands-on experiences in New York City, including a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) and attendance at the Tommy Factory Fall ‘22 Runway Show during New York Fashion Week.

At The Met, students went on a guided tour of a two-part exhibition called “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” and “In America: An Anthology of Fashion.” The students explored the history of American clothing with displays going back as far as the eighteenth century. The exhibits highlighted how clothing connects to feelings as well as changes in trends and fashions over time.

Students then experienced New York City’s Fashion Week at the Tommy Factory Fall ‘22 Runway Show, hosted by Tommy Hilfiger (the company), which is owned by PVH Corp. The show unveiled the new TH Monogram, created in partnership with illustrator and graphic designer Fergus Purcell.

After the trips, the students discussed their experiences and the different themes they noticed.

“The Met exhibit showed me how there has been a movement away from color over time,” said Abigail Gouldin ’26. “Newer items have more white and beige but in the older designs, color helped make a name for the brand. It highlighted how designers often go in a similar direction but how they also find ways to differentiate their brand.”

“Looking at the pieces and reading the accompanying statements made me think about some of the reasons I purchase items,” said Marisa Woodley ’23 of The Met exhibit. “For example, I have a bracelet that I bought because the proceeds are used to protect the oceans. People in the fashion industry have to think about what will strike people.”

The students also noticed the role of gender in the industry. Some of the male students felt men’s fashion was underrepresented in The Met’s exhibits compared to the women’s and unisex items. Other students wondered if this was purposeful since the industry is generally dominated by male designers.

When comparing the two experiences, the students talked about how each showed them important concepts around marketing and merchandising, but in very different ways.

“When I went to the Met, I felt like a student. When I went to Tommy Factory, I felt like a member of the high-fashion society,” said Olivia Volino ’24. “Both were informative experiences but it was like we went from watching something amazing to being a part of something amazing.”

“For me, I felt like a celebrity, a student, and a fanboy,” said Bryan Adams ’25. At the show, Adams saw one of the biggest names in today’s music industry and an NBA player among other celebrities.

The students discussed how the invitation list reflected the Tommy Hilfiger brand that actively fuses music, sports, and fashion. They also noticed how the celebrities wore clothing with the new TH Monogram, an important marketing strategy that adds to the buzz and visibility of the new logo.

The students also tied the lessons they learned from The Met to aspects of the runway show. For example, at The Met, students recognized the importance of connecting a brand to a purpose. Then they noted how the models in the runway show represented a broad spectrum of ages, genders, and sizes, reflecting the inclusive mission of the Tommy Hilfiger brand.

Each experience also gave the students an important insight into the depth and breadth of the fashion industry, opening their eyes to new career possibilities.

“I got to see how large the fashion industry is and how it can take you wherever you want,” said Harry Ravitz '23.

“There are so many different ways to be involved in fashion,” said Woodley.

“The students and I are so grateful to Tommy Hilfiger for providing the travel funds for the experiential learning experiences,” said Dr. Alison Wolfe, Business and Economics Chair and Director of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School. “These types of experiential learning experiences provide unique ways to illustrate many of the concepts we are discussing in class."

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