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Nora Abdelwahed
Springfield, Virginia

Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be creative and I’ve always had a great appreciation for art, fashion, and photography. As I got older, I fell in love with the idea of designing clothes for women. Every woman wants to feel comfortable and confident in what she wears, it is essential to love what you wear and most importantly—love how you look in it. Fashion for me does not need to be over the top to look special. Something as simple as a few stitch and seam details can make a piece eye-catching.

Chelsea Maxine Agawa
Astoria, New York

Fashion design is the creation of art for the human body. It’s like putting a paintbrush to a canvas, and that’s the way I’ve always seen it. My entire life I was in love with art. It was my childhood dream to pursue fashion, and so I did. My journey to becoming a designer has been a grand learning experience, including traveling and studying in Italy and England to broaden my understanding of the international fashion industry and new educational opportunities. Every day, I have been exposed to endless creativity that has developed my ability as a designer. I design as an art, and in celebration of the woman’s figure.

Heidi Bischoff
Orlando, Florida

I was born and raised in Venezuela until I was 10, then immigrated to Orlando, Florida. My mom raised me there until I was 18; then I made the big move to New York City. My mom is a big part of why I am a designer; she always put a big emphasis on art and culture. Growing up, I was always the big kid attending every art class at the local museum. This greatly influenced my childhood and, ultimately, my pursuit of fashion design. As I matured, I became more interested in the fashion design field than general fine arts. A lover of all things art, I think my perspective in knitwear is different because I love playing with interesting yarns and textures and I really try to make my designs as well as my sketches miniature works of art.

Yuliya Bondarenko
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

When I was eight years old, I draped a sheet over myself and created a dress. With some lipstick and accessories, I looked fabulous. Looking in the mirror I knew: I wanted to be a fashion designer. Fashion has always captivated me. I always notice the style of those around me and use their garments as inspiration to create outfit variations in my daydreams. This is part of my design process. My inspirations are about a feeling rather than objects—something physiological rather than physical. I have a personal connection with the concepts of all my collections, but I leave the interpretations to the wearer. Being creative is a gift not all people possess and it should be embraced. To me fashion design is not a job. It’s a way of life.

Blake Burnett
West Nyack, New York

As a young adult, I was immersed in a world of photography, art, and music—all of which coalesced into my inspiration for learning how to design. What is most captivating about fashion is its dual function as artistic expression and functionality. By focusing on these seemingly contrasting ideas, there is a consistent challenge to create garments with a fresh vision. The intention in design is to internalize inspiration as an exchange between literal and abstract forms. With a clarified purpose and willingness to evolve, I am prepared to contribute my talents to the fashion industry.

Aisling Camps
Trinidad and Tobago

My curiosity for design was sparked when I worked as an engineer across the street from the Fashion Institute for Technology. Every day, I got off the subway and felt like I should be spending my time on the opposite side of the street where I could have an outlet for my creativity. I started taking weekend classes for a couple of semesters and eventually left my engineering job in 2010 so I could take up fashion school full time. I think my unusual life journey thus far has made my approach to fashion unique. I was born and raised in Trinidad, watching Style with Elsa Klensch on CNN in the 1990’s. I moved to New York to study engineering at Columbia University when I was 17 and grew into adulthood here in New York where I have lived for the past 9 years. I think all aspects of my life subconsciously influence my designs.

Aimee Ciancarelli
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

As far back as I can remember, I had reams of paper in my room covered with whatever ideas spilled out of my head. It took a while for me to realize that I could have a career in fashion. Designing always seemed like a far-fetched idea. I never could find the clothes I wanted and I was always searching through magazines and online shops for my ideas. Taking the step to go to school for fashion was a big one and I believe I have only recently found my style as a designer. I believe fashion is where I belong and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.

Andy Chan
Jacksonville, Florida

Ever since I was a kid, I was very interested in the art world. I began to appreciate art and study art history at the University of North Florida. After receiving my associate’s degree, I was determined to study fashion design. There is no better place to study fashion than New York City. The only school that I applied to was the Fashion Institute of Technology and that is where my journey began. I design because through fashion, our personalities and identities are enhanced. Becoming a designer gives me a voice through which I can create a personal relationship with clothing and people. I feel that personal style is unique and through street style, individuals create their identities for the world to see.

Victoria Clemente
Goshen, New York

Much of my inspiration for my designs stems from organic shapes and textures found in nature. My senior collection is inspired by the rich colors of volcanic ash and the intricate yet forceful way it settles on the Earth. I love knitwear because I can play with different yarns, colors, gauges, stitches, dying, and knitting techniques to achieve that organic and textural feel. The silhouettes I choose to design are feminine and body-skimming—often showing back interest and a peek of skin. I hope to design knitwear for the contemporary market when I graduate the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Katharine Gray
Northport, New York

I want you to pull the wool over your own eyes. My passion for art began in early childhood, drawing stick figures in dresses on all available surfaces—sofas, antique furniture, walls—until my mother substituted paper and alternative forms of art media to satisfy my creativity. My mother’s constant refrain of “draw your own lines” motivated me to pursue my interest in fashion design. The relationship between natural elements and advances in technology drew me to the knitwear specialization at FIT, where I could combine my interests in textile and design development. The duality of my design aesthetic incorporates the idea that there should be as much beauty as there is comfort in my creations.

Soyeon Hwang
Seoul, South Korea

I have admired and enjoyed art since I was young, and I wanted to have a career related to art. However, as I grew up I wanted to do something more practical that people could appreciate in their everyday lives. That was when I realized discovered my passion for fashion design. I want to design clothes that carry humor and playfulness. I want my garments to be fun. I love wearable garments, and I would like to give them more character and whimsical details and make them stand out more. Many designers appeal to femininity, but my design philosophy is to pursue the unique characteristics of each person as an individual.

Jelena Ibrishimovikj
Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

I have seven years of experience working in the fashion design industry in Europe. I am expanding that experience in New York where I have been a resident for more than five years. After experiencing knitwear for the past two years at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I am absolutely fascinated with it! I think that owning at least one knitwear machine is a great investment to any serious and upcoming fashion designer today. I love working with textile fabrics and knits, because I like the idea of mixing textures, structures, and weights. This is why I design women's apparel using fabrics and yarns together. I have a minor in History of Art, and I love designing costumes as well. I would like to work at an inventive company, and it is important to me that they care for the environment and animals and use sustainable ways of production.

Samantha Ince
St. Vincent & the Grenadines

I’m originally from St. Vincent, a small island in the West Indies, and my love for design started as a child, fueled by my culture and surroundings. At age 17, I pursued a two-year foundation studies in Fashion Design in a neighboring island at the Barbados Community College. After completion, I spent the next four years teaching textiles at high schools in an attempt to save money so I could pursue my ambitions in a more fashion-ready environment. Due to the lack of fashion industry in the Caribbean, no one from my island has ever become a professional fashion designer. After enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology, I chose to specialize in knitwear. I am interested in the textural aspects of knitwear. Through careful research, it’s amazing how I can create intricate surfaces that aren’t typical of knitwear.

Elizabeth Joyce
New Jersey

At the age of five, I moved to London and it was a serious culture shock. I went from an American public school with no dress code to a strict British school with awful uniforms. The only common ground I had with my classmates was our fantasy about what we would wear if we weren’t stuck in our school uniforms. Fashion was my escape, I drew constantly, and every piece of schoolwork was littered with my designs. When I started knitwear classes, I discovered a whole new area of design. I am captivated by knitwear, and all the incredible possibilities and developments in the knitwear industry. I believe it is the clothing of the future. The technology is evolving at an exponential rate, and it seems the possibilities are endless.

Kinjal Katakia

As a child in India, I was always surrounded by a wealth of culture and numerous festivities. Before I knew it, I was visually drawn into the fashion industry, with its colors, textures and designs. My love for sketching, patternmaking, and fabric manipulation inspired me to enroll at the Fashion Institute of Technology and pursue a career. In 2010, I worked as a product development assistant at the House of Pearl Fashions where I thoroughly enjoyed working on lab dips, fabrics, and approving fit samples. Currently, I am interning at Nautica. After graduation I wish to start working as a designer to inspire and motivate others through my ideas and vision.

Mashal Khan
Long Beach, California

My understanding of fashion defines itself through relying heavily on concept and inspiration. My collections have buried meanings derived from social phobias, irony, and criticism. My love for film was cultivated at a young age when I filmed my siblings in self-produced, directed and written short films. I returned to film because it includes visual interpretations of larger concepts I had explored. I have translated my obsession for film and unique concepts into a love of costume design. I hope that my designs will be showcased in films that were made with a higher purpose. I am inspired by art and artists, as well as the process and the product.

Sijeo Kim
South Korea

I grew up in South Korea and moved to New York City, chasing a dream to be a fashion designer. Since she was a little girl, I enjoyed making paper dolls and dressing them up with dresses that I created. Soon it became my ultimate goal. My father, who is also an aspiring artist, influenced me to be imaginative and creative. I believe that fashion is an art, and my design aesthetic focuses on anything visually intriguing. I work with unusual materials using experimental techniques and various inspirations.

Tae Kyung Kim
Seoul, South Korea

I believe a designer can be a storyteller. Each person can interpret a story differently and sometimes the meaning can get lost in the process. To be considered a good designer, however, I think one must be able to stimulate and help the listener understand his or her creativity. This is what I am trying to do as a designer. I want to create designs so that people can understand my story easily through my garments. Mostly I am inspired by abstract things such as emotions and feelings; I like to express them in garment form.

Kathy Hweryung Kwon
Seoul, South Korea

Art and fashion are two things I always had as a child. Growing up in South Korea, I learned about my passion for art at a young age. After moving to the United States, I became exposed to a new world, new language, and a new culture of art and fashion. My parents were against my decision to pursue my dream, but I never gave up. Each day my dreams have become more certain. I now know that fashion is a part of my life regardless. I believe fashion is finding one’s own voice in this massive revolving society. It is the form of art that can easily reach people and it is the easiest way to express oneself. It’s about diversity of individuals.

Ida Lamberton
Kansas City, Kansas

Fashion has been a part of me since I was old enough to dress myself. I have always seen it as the most direct form of self-expression and one of the only means of communicating something about yourself to the world without verbalizing anything. My first fashion job was working at a retail boutique in Kansas City at age 11. The store owners mentored me and included me in everything they did. Working in fashion felt right to me even then, and I was inspired to commit myself to learning more. I have enjoyed every experience I have had learning about fashion and developing my own design aesthetic. I am thrilled to be a part of such a dynamic industry.

Hee-eun Lee
Seoul, South Korea

I like the texture of fabric, patterned fabric, and colors. This is a big reason why I am currently studying knitwear at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Creating my own fabric with beautiful yarns inspires me. I believe design is the best way to express one’s own voice. It allows me to get involved in various kinds of arts and makes people see me differently. I would say my aesthetic is elegant and reserved. My inspirations are usually come from nature—objects, color, texture, shape, etc. I want to design my clothes as an art and a science. The aim is to create beautiful silhouettes executed with unexpected yet structured design.

Wonhee Lee
Seoul, South Korea

I was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, and later moved to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. After I got my AAS degree from FIT, I decided to continue studying knitwear in the BFA program. I have been able to refine my skills in garment design and production as I increased my knowledge of knitwear. My designs are based on minimalism with a strong sense of detail. My inspiration is drawn from interesting objects or living organisms, combined with an emphasis on tailoring. My goal is to launch my own line with my husband in Los Angeles, which will be our hometown after marriage. I would like to expand my line across the world.

Katie Lewis
Syracuse, Kansas

I was born to a wheat farmer in a small town in Kansas. Growing up the youngest of five girls, it was hard to stand out, but I was determined to do something different. My journey began at the age of five. My grandmother looked after me and taught me how to sew. I fell in love with sewing and began to compete in competitions. When I was older I gave sewing lessons and put on my own fashion show. I design because I love new and smart ways of doing something. I feel like a five-year-old again every time I sketch, sew, knit, and search for something new. After a family trip to New York City, I knew I belonged here and I wanted to become a fashion designer. My drive, passion, and extremely good work ethic make me unique. Whenever I set my mind to something, I make it happen.

Claire Lung

I was born in Taiwan and moved to New York City at the age of 16. Since I was a little girl, I enjoyed drawing fashion sketches. I adore beautiful things and I love to observe what people wear. I love to incorporate geometric shapes, bold colors, and color/fabric blockings into my collections each season. I aim to provide easy and effortless fashion with a philosophy encompassing the attributes of modernity, simplicity, sophistication and femininity.

Morgan Maxwell
Miami, Florida

Art and design have been the largest influences in my life since adolescence; I learned to process information via mathematics and artistic symbolism as a way to communicate with the world around me. When I discovered fashion design as an art form I fell in love with an industry that is not only artistic, but also an outlet for artistic expression across cultures. I find fashion design to be such a creative and innovative field that thrives on abstract inspiration and constant change, which is what draws me to the industry with such intense pull. As a knitwear designer, I find I can truly create and express myself in the most pure and original way by creating something new.

Desiree Cadman Mendoza
San Diego, California

I am a citizen of the world—born in San Diego, California, but with roots in Mexico, Spain, and California. Every holiday I was inspired by family trips to different countries, a tradition that instilled in me a love for travel and a deep appreciation for architecture, art, culture, and flavors. I expressed these experiences as a child when I created castles and clothing. At 14, I opened up a small boutique. At 17, while studying architecture at a community college in California, I began interning for an athletic wear company, where I discovered found my love for prints and production. As a designer and artist, my aesthetic is largely influenced by my travels or translating daily discoveries into my designs through abstract textures, silhouettes, print, or color. I am an avid kite surfer and foodie. I am currently obsessed with India—my latest travel destination.

Yoshie Muranaka
Los Angeles, California

My journey to become a fashion major began with my love of creating—whether it was clothing, jewelry, or home furnishings. I realized in high school how much I enjoyed the design process and the eventual manifestation of a beautiful object. Mostly I would make things for myself. Sometimes my garments were a bit odd, not obviously pretty. But with encouragement from a few friends, I felt confident that I had a point of view to share through my designs. In my opinion, if a designer can express something that is true to them, it is going to be unique and interesting because each person is an individual with a distinct perspective. The gratification of an authentic creation process is why I design.

Marines Padilla
Bayamon, Puerto Rico

I am an artist and art enthusiast. I appreciate all forms of art from classical music to conceptual visual art. I knew I loved creating from a young age. I kept drawing journals and made my own jewelry. My interest in art and design led me into fashion, which eventually turned into knitwear design. Color, people, and texture have inspired my work since day one. Each knitwear piece I create embodies the meeting of organic and urban elements, which I like to think parallels my nostalgia for my home, Puerto Rico, and my present home in Manhattan.

Hannah Park
Los Angeles, California

I have always had a creative fire inside me. Ever since I can remember, I loved creating, crafting, and drawing. At a very young age, I told my parents that I wanted to be an artist. I had an irresistible urge to design and create. In the third grade, I made and sold birthday cards. In the fourth grade, I custom-designed pencils and sold them during lunch. As I grew older, I realized that my creative interests leaned toward fashion. I experimented with deconstructing and re-designing my clothes. I really look up to my mother who is also a fashion designer. I knew that having a career as a designer would feed my creative hunger.

Jongsuk Park
Seoul, South Korea

I am inspired by the roughness of things around me, from nature to artificial creation. In other words, I like to interact with things that can be seen and things that cannot be seen. For me, the result of those interactions is a garment. That is how I express myself. However, the concept means nothing if people do not understand it. I believe one cannot enjoy design without understanding it. I am trying to let people easily understand what I am saying and enjoy it, again, to interact, this time with people. This is the reason and the goal of my design.

Sanja Radulovic
Hollis, New York

I was born and raised on a farm in Serbia. I was raised by two incredibly talented people—my mother, Sinka, who is an amazing seamstress, and my grandmother, Marica, who was a genius at embroidering and crocheting. Their incredible talents inspired me to become a fashion designer. I have a deep passion for fashion and design. This passion drives me and keeps me excited about my craft. I believe it is very important to stay true to yourself as a person and to be unique with your designs. As designers, we are inspired by similar things, so it is important to be unique and so that a piece of you shines through your designs.

Noa Rennert
Tel-Aviv, Israel

As a child, I was fascinated with stories and different individuals. I began to communicate my vision of different characters through design. With time and maturity I organically explored and developed my own aesthetic for a lead character. I was inspired by culture, nature, emotions, sounds, and certain atmospheres. For me, design is a language for self-expression that allows me to directly communicate with the world. Fashion maintains the perfect balance between the practical and the conceptual. Through shape, texture, color, and idea it allows you to bring personality to life.

Danielle Ridarick
Point Pleasant, New Jersey

A woman of impeccable taste and style, my grandmother was the major influence on my future in fashion. I’m the daughter of a detective and a MedEvac flight nurse, who both worked strange hours. This resulted in my sisters and me spending most weekends with my grandmother. Whenever she took us shopping, I would eagerly show her a shirt or pair of pants I absolutely had to have. She then proceeded to ask me to make three outfits combining that new piece with garments already in my wardrobe. If I couldn’t, that shirt went back on the rack. Her profound question has significantly impacted the way I approach design today. When I was young, she taught me the fundamentals of knitting. I can remember the 11-year-old version of myself knitting an endless scarf on her back porch, never imagining it would lead to my future career.

Julie Urania Rovelo
Bay Shore, New York

I have always had an interest in fashion design. I started drawing comics at first but found more of an interest in drawing clothes. I took to altering my clothes from the sewing skills I learned from my mother. I was very influenced by my older brother who was in a punk band and I wanted clothes like his. I started by only designing very alternative fashions inspired by many punk bands and other subcultures. As I grew up, I expanded my inspiration and research to higher-end designers, still retaining my original interest in alternative fashions. As a designer, I enjoy merging classic and alternative, uniform and quirky, and elegant and youthful aspects of fashion. Knitwear was the best specialization for me as I enjoy being very experimental with my designs.

Olga Santiago
San Juan, Puerto Rico

To this day I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but by the time I was in the eighth grade I was absolutely certain that I wanted to work in the fashion industry. I would look at fashion magazines for hours and fantasize about the day I would get to play with fabric and color to create beautiful garments. During high school, I took all of the classes necessary to build my first design portfolio. In 2009, my dream of moving to New York City to study fashion design became a reality after I was accepted at the Fashion Institute of Technology. During my undergraduate studies, I participated in studied at Nottingham Trent University in England. This was program focused on the development of knitted textiles. After years of refining my design skills through the specialized courses at both schools and my internship experiences, I am excited to graduate and start working in the industry as a knitwear designer.

Isadora Scimeca
Kinnelon, New Jersey

My path to becoming a fashion designer started when I saw my grandmother create garments for all of the women in my family. I was able to see how much love and creativity she put into each of her pieces and after she passed away I knew that I wanted to continue in her footsteps. I started to take sewing and illustration classes in high school and then did two years at the Art Institute of NYC, where I was chosen to participate in their senior fashion show. I then continued my studies at FIT, finding that my strength was in knitwear. In my third year at FIT I was given the wonderful opportunity to study in Milan for the year. There I was able to experiment and see all the amazing possibilities that knitwear can do. I am able to create and see textured fabric that then becomes garments.

Jennifer Seung Yeon Sim
Chicago, Illinois

I decided to attend fashion school because I loved picking out outfits for my friends. I wanted to gain knowledge of how clothes are made, what makes them special, and why people buy and wear certain things. I believe fashion is a tool of expression. What one wears can express one’s status, beliefs, morality, personality—maybe even where someone is going. That is why fashion fascinates me. I design to create a look that expresses not only a beauty that can be seen outside but also the inside beauty that one possesses; a beauty that can be translated through clothes.

Jin Young Suh
Seoul, South Korea

My mother is a painter and an art teacher. She created an artistic environment form the time I was born. However, despite of my huge interest in art, my mother was strongly against me following the same path as her. Instead of sacrificing my artistic ability, I developed my dream further to become a clothing designer. My mother approved of this path not only because I was stubborn, but because fashion involves a significant business aspect. For me, to design is to transform and to actualize my ideas, aspirations, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. I get a sense of accomplishment as my design is executed exactly as it is pictured in my head. My design philosophy is to simply create and design something that people, including myself, will never get sick of.

Tamara Taylor
Bloomfield, New Jersey

Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, I took to art and started to draw at an early age. As a child, I would watch fashion shows on television knowing that I would one day be a part of that world. I took art and dance classes throughout high school to feed my creativity, and I became fascinated with the concept of making something tangible from an idea. Determined to become a designer, I enrolled in The Fashion Institute of Technology’s fashion design program and completed my associate’s degree at Polimoda in Florence, Italy. My time there would forever change the way I perceived design. It opened my mind to a world of knitwear and endless possibilities. As a designer, I am most inspired by nature, abstract art, and the transitioning moments of my life.

Marta Weber
Brooklyn, New York

I have been interested in the fashion industry for as long as I can remember. As a child, I was told that I was an extremely visual learner. That made me realize that I could excel in a career in the arts. I took high school classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology for several years, and developed a very strong passion for design. I realized that I could turn my interest into something more, and I envisioned myself having a career in the fashion industry. Another huge passion of mine is styling. I think that my knowledge of both design and styling makes me unique and sets me apart from others in the industry. I love being able to combine those two interests of mine and I hope to have a career where I can combine those two passions.

Jing Jing Xu
Fujian, China

Ever since I was a kid, I used my Barbie doll as a mannequin. I made a lot of clothes for my Barbie using my limited knowledge of patternmaking and sewing. As I grew older, I found myself looking at garments and having the urge to redesign them. This desire and passion to create garments to enhance and flatter the female form have inspired me to become a fashion designer. As a designer, my aesthetic changes from time to time. I never limit myself to a particular style or interest.

Jiin Yoo
South Korea

Every person has his or her own talent and that is certainly evident in my family. One sister likes math and science and wants to be a doctor. The other sister plays a traditional Korean instrument and plans to apply to music school. My brother played soccer for the junior national league in middle school, and dreams of playing professionally. And my profound interests have always been in art and fashion. I discovered my passion for art when I went to the Fine Arts High School. During middle school and high school, I was forced to wear a uniform. As I put my high school uniform into the closet, I became best friends with fashion magazines and shopping malls. I always tried to keep up with the latest trends. My dream is to design clothes that combine Oriental delicacy and Western elegance, and portray a picture of a person’s life. Just like a picture can say a thousand words, I believe fashion—clothes, accessories, and the material itself—portray a thousand different characteristics of the person who is wearing it. My dream is to become a world famous designer. I want to make clothes that are comfortable, dandy, simple, and elegant—clothes that bring out the true color of one’s personality.

Sowon Yoon (Ona)
Seoul, South Korea

I was exposed to art and fashion at the beginning of my education. It has given me a detailed understanding of fabric textures and current fashion and the ability to draw. What differentiates me from others is my extensive exposure to international fashion. I’ve worked for Michael Kors and Soho Fashion in New York, for Vogue Magazine as an intern in Korea, and for WGSN in Hong Kong as an assistant journalist. These experiences have strengthened me and kept me up to date on the fast fashion market.

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