Michigan Fashion Media Summit inspires, educates students
Stepping into a chic, professional environment, I completely forgot I was standing in the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. On Friday, April 13, this space became the networking event of the season. It was something beyond the University, unlike anything Wolverines have ever seen: the first annual Michigan Fashion Media Summit, a daylong event dedicated to networking, advice from fashion connoisseurs and an overall conversation of fashion merchandising. The Michigan Fashion Media Summit certainly accomplished its goals to inspire, educate and break the stigma surrounding fashion at Michigan.
Hosted by Amy Levin, founder of the blog College Fashionista, along with founders of the summit, the day featured a high-profile list of speakers from the fashion world. Highlighting this list was Gary Sheinbaum, CEO of Tommy Hilfiger Americas, and Mindy Scheier, founder of charity Runway of Dreams.
All attendees started the day together for Sheinbaum’s morning keynote, along with other panels, including talks from David Cho, director of partnership activation for the NBA and Meredith Paley, vice president of relations for Talbots. Guests were then able to break off into smaller groups to attend various panels of their choice. Of the three options, “Defining Design,” “Startup Successes” and “Fashion’s Future,” I chose to sit in on the “Defining Design” panel, facilitated by Emily Blumenthal, founder of Handbag Designer 101. The conversation evolving from this session included real life industry stories from Scheier and celebrity stylist Pamela Dennis. An opportunity for learning and empowerment at every moment in the conversation, the talent and passion brought forth by each individual served as an incredible resource for all attendees. These women are a force to be reckoned with.
Blumenthal, Scheier and Dennis have taken it upon themselves to revolutionize fashion because of their personal struggles with what can be a difficult industry. “I wanted me to walk in before my dress at an event,” Dennis said.
Each woman sees problems with the design industry and has used their talents in both business and design to set out and make their goals a reality. They have changed the industry and revolutionized how fashion is consumed and the role business takes in this process.
“The future of fashion is inclusive. The future of fashion is mainstream clothing for everyone,” Scheier said.
It is this idea that truly centered my experience at the summit. Each speaker, not only those on the panel, had a vision for changing design and getting fellow Wolverines involved in this change.
This Michigan Fashion Media Summit was more than networking — it was a call for students to take action in the trajectory of this industry. This truly was the event this campus needed. It informed, challenged and prepared students to network and go out into the world as designers and business people in the fashion industry. And this is just the beginning. The Michigan Fashion Media Summit will continue to shape this campus as it evolves beyond this year’s success story.