On April 12, the second annual Michigan Fashion Media Summit was hosted at the Ross School of Business. The atmosphere could be described as passionate, stylistic and above all exciting. The level of planning and dedication of the team was visible in each detail. Be it the aesthetically pleasing gift bags, the photo booth or even the panels highlighting the features of the event, each piece complemented the other perfectly.
Ali Gropper, one of the founders, said MFMS intends to “break the fashion stigma in academia.” This daylong event offered a rather rare opportunity to bridge the seemingly large gap between the University of Michigan, an institution known for educational excellence, and the complex but commonly misunderstood world of fashion and media. The morning keynote was hosted by Sophia Macks (founder of Beyond the Mag) and featured Jennifer Powell who is a manager for some of the most influential social media personalities including Chiara Ferragni. Listening to Powell speak about building one’s brand but more importantly prioritizing “intention and potential” struck a chord with me for she truly embodies the spirit of taking the risk and relentlessly following the path you see best for yourself. This is reflected in the fact that Powell was one of the first agents to revolutionize the space of social media as a business.
Out of the three panels held, the one that stood out to me the most was “The Art of Storytelling,” hosted by Sophia Chabbott (Digital Director at Women Wear Daily). The speaker was Aliza Licht (former DKNY PR head) — the mind behind the infamous DKNY PR Girl who took Twitter by storm. I thoroughly enjoyed this panel due its focus on as Aliza described building a “multi-pronged” personal narrative, something that is crucial but not always touched upon through our college education. Furthermore, it was an enthralling time to listen to Aliza’s experiences in the fashion industry over the last 20 years. She is a woman who has done it all right from working at DKNY to Alice + Olivia to writing her own book and even launching her own company. Thus, it is safe to say that Licht’s insights were invaluable but when she said, “if it doesn’t hurt a little, it isn’t change,” it remained with me, because as students trying to navigate their careers, this was something that all of us could benefit from learning.
I am so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to attend the Michigan Fashion Media Summit because it was educational, inspiring and of course, fashionable. Being able to listen to professionals from a varied range of areas of such a diverse industry enabled one to go so much deeper in comprehending the world of fashion. Moreover, the event also offered the opportunity to advance professionally through its networking sessions while highlighting the fashion space at the University with the Fashion Forward Showcase (presented by Steve Madden) that recognized the work of students in the industry. MFMS highlighted the possibilities that lie in lesser explored fields while gradually transforming the relationship between the University and the world of fashion. I believe that anyone with even a brief interest in related industries or even those simply in need for motivation should definitely attend the MFMS next year to gain novel perspectives from those who have not only excelled but have rather re-defined what they do.