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FIT President to Visit Tokyo in Support of Japanese Alumni and Japan Fashion Week

Cheri Fein, executive director, Public and Media Relations
press@fitnyc.edu, 212-217-4700

Historic Trip Marks the First Time the FIT President Has Visited FIT Alumni in Japan

Read the Japanese translation of this press release.

Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, will make a historic trip to Tokyo, from Monday, March 19 to Thursday, March 22, to demonstrate the college’s support for Japan’s fashion industry and FIT’s 500 Japanese alumni. Dr. Brown will also pay her respects to the Japanese people on the first anniversary of the tragic tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear events. This is the first time that a president of FIT has traveled to Tokyo to meet with alumni and the Japanese fashion industry.

Accompanying Dr. Brown will be Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT and curator of the ground-breaking exhibition, Japan Fashion Now, along with other administrators from FIT. The group will take part in a special seminar; host a reception for FIT alumni and the fashion industry, which will be sponsored by the FIT Alumni Association in partnership with Ralph Lauren; attend runway shows during Japan Fashion Week; and connect with Japan’s fashion industry.

Dr. Brown and Dr. Steele will be available for interviews with the media during their stay. Due to scheduling, interviews must be pre-arranged. Please contact Cheri Fein, executive director of Public and Media Relations, FIT, press@fitnyc.edu.

With many Japanese students attending FIT for their education and with long-standing ties to FIT alumni who return to Japan, the college has a strong relationship with the Japanese fashion industry. The Japan FIT Alumni Association (JFAA) was founded in 1969 by FIT alumni Takao Shimizu (1962), Katsuhiko Ikeda (1967), and Yoko Ohara (1967), who continues to lead the organization. Its members range in age from 20 to 78 years old and include Tsutomu Okuda, Chairman & CEO, J. Front Retailing Co., Ltd. (Daimaru and Matsuzakaya Department Stores); Tsuyoshi Monden, president of Agnes B Japan; Takahiko Miyake, president of Sanei International; and Hiroko Ito, designer and owner of HISUI. FIT’s Japanese alumni work in a wide range of fashion-related professions such as fashion design, merchandising, pattern making, fiber and textile development, sales, retail, media, and advertising.

“I am honored and excited to visit Tokyo to show support for our alumni and for the Japanese fashion industry during a time of challenges and change,” said Dr. Brown. “FIT and its Japanese alumni have maintained a close relationship for more than 43 years, thanks in large measure to the efforts of Yoko Ohara. We at FIT value these ties – and the remarkable melding of tradition and creativity that is a Japanese hallmark.”

The seminar, “Human Power Development and Japan Fashion in the Age of Globalization,” will be held on Wednesday, March 21, from 9:30 am to noon at the Midtown Conference Center, 9-7-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku (Conference Room 7). The event will proceed as follows: 

  • Yoko Ohara will give greetings and introduce Masahiko Miyake, board chairperson of Japan Fashion Week and chairman and representative director of TSI Holdings Co., LTD. 
  • Mr. Mikyake will give remarks and introduce Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., the parent company of Uniqlo. 
  • Mr. Yanai will speak about how Japanese companies and professionals can cope with the globalization challenge. 
  • Dr. Brown will follow with a keynote address on education for the fashion leaders of the future, including a discussion about FIT’s educational philosophy. 
  • Dr. Steele will discuss the evolution and significance of contemporary Japanese fashion. This will include a presentation of how the exhibition, Japan Fashion Now, which was inspired by the city of Tokyo, was designed to present the diversity of exciting new Japanese fashions to an international audience. Japan Fashion Now, the first exhibition to explore contemporary Japanese fashion in all its radical creativity – from designer fashion to street style – was on display at The Museum at FIT in New York City from September 17, 2010 through April 2, 2011. 
  • The seminar will conclude with the presentation of the FIT President’s Award to Yuzo Yagi, president, chairman, and chief executive officer of Yagi Tsusho Limited, a global marketing and merchandising company specializing in fashion, by Dr. Brown for his support of FIT, including sponsorship of Japan Fashion Now and a previous exhibition, Madame Grès. The FIT Presidential Award is rarely given and, therefore, is a significant honor.

The seminar will be live-streamed to two New York City locations. FIT students will be able to watch from the campus cafeteria, while enjoying sushi. Japanese alumni living in New York are invited to view the seminar from the SUNY Global Center, 116 East 55 Street, where they will have a sushi and saki reception and raffle alumni work to raise funds for the earthquake victims.

On the evening of March 21, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, the FIT Alumni Association will sponsor a reception for Japanese alumni, the Japan Fashion Week executive committee, industry leaders, and guests. This private event will be held at the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship store, Shibuya-ku, 4-25-15 Jingumae.

Almost prophetically, a jacket designed by Hiroko Ito (FIT Class of 1990) of Hisui has been selected as a key visual to represent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo 2012-13.

About the Fashion Institute of Technology

The Fashion Institute of Technology, a part of the State University of New York, has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology for nearly 70 years. With a curriculum that provides a singular blend of hands-on, practical experience, classroom study, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, FIT offers a wide range of outstanding programs that are affordable and relevant to today’s rapidly changing industries. Internationally renowned, FIT draws on its New York City location to provide a vibrant, creative community in which to learn. The college grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, and offers more than 45 majors in fields ranging from marketing and textiles to toy design and entrepreneurship, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the global marketplace.

FIT’s special brand of education reflects the college’s close ties to industry. Top executives serve as curriculum advisors, faculty, and mentors to students; industry members and leading companies provide scholarships, internships, and support for critical FIT initiatives. Relationships with industry enable the college to offer students experiences that mirror the marketplace and give them a competitive edge.

Unique facilities include the only professionally outfitted fragrance development lab on a U.S. college campus, and a knitting lab, which features the same equipment used in industry. The Museum at FIT, one of the world’s leading collections of fashion and textiles, houses more than 50,000 garments and accessories and more than 300,000 textiles and swatches.

FIT alumni have attained top positions in industry. Among notable alumni in fashion are Calvin Klein, Reem Acra, Francisco Costa, Norma Kamali, Nanette Lepore, and Ralph Rucci. Other prominent graduates include Leslie Blodgett, executive chairman of Bare Escentuals; international restaurant designer Tony Chi; Edward Menicheschi, vice president and publisher of Vanity Fair; and Joe Zee, creative director of Elle.  

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