Auburn University students experience New York’s famed Fashion Week twice

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It’s one thing for an Auburn University student to work at New York’s famed Fashion Week. It’s another to do it twice.

Rebecca Schneider, an apparel design student, and Katie Gardner, an apparel merchandising student, both in the College of Human Sciences, were the second pair of Auburn students to experience the September Fashion Week through an agreement with WME-IMG Fashion, the agency in charge of the annual extravaganza.

The pair left such an impression at the Big Apple’s fall show, they were both invited by IMG to return for the spring show in February – a first for Auburn students.

“Katie and I were blown away by this opportunity and moved quickly to travel back to New York for another fast-paced immersion into fashion,” said Schneider, who graduated May 5.

Understandably, Schneider and Gardner admitted they didn’t know what to expect when they first arrived in New York last fall. They each brought a strong work ethic and knowledge of fashion, combined with, what Schneider called, “the confidence that the College of Human Sciences instills in you through coursework and various opportunities” to be successful outside the classroom.

They both said the weeklong experience was “an industry crash course,” giving them the opportunity to observe all facets of fashion — designers, marketers, buyers, influencers, and much more — working together.

When both students returned to the city a few months later, they had even more confidence. Between the two experiences, Schneider and Gardner assisted the senior director of global client services, the senior director of marketing and special projects and the director of marketing and activation. They assisted with various projects and interacted with executives of WME-IMG and sponsor companies.

The biggest difference between the fall and spring shows was that Schneider and Gardner spent that week in February working solely at Spring Studios, the site for the February shows.

“We were welcomed back by familiar faces who now trusted us with a bit more independence and responsibility,” said Schneider.

Being onsite provided the ladies with opportunities to talk with company and brand executives and representatives and learn about their experiences. This was an extra benefit for Schneider, a budding designer with an interest in marketing and branding as well.

“The opportunities in this industry are so diverse, the experiences helped me understand where my talents thrive and what piques my interest,” she said. “Overall, the weeks strengthened my self-awareness and ability to pursue a career that utilizes my strengths.”

“It was absolutely incredible to be able to meet all of the professionals and influencers that we did, but to also attend these shows before they hit Vogue [Magazine],” added Gardner. “I will never forget either of these weeks, and can definitely say I am a changed person because of them. I am not only more knowledgeable about the industry with many more professional contacts, but I am more confident in myself and what I am capable of.”

Faculty in the Department of Consumer and Design Sciences review student applications each August in hopes of sending one design student and one merchandising student to the fall Fashion Week.

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