University Fashion Group members work NYFW, gain industry experience

Trisha Dasgupta, Senior Life&Arts Reporter

Before this year’s New York Fashion Week, Seth Brogdon, a textiles and apparels junior, had never walked down a runway as a model.

Until then, his work in fashion revolved around working backstage, directing models and coordinating logistics for shows. However, when Global Fashion Collective, a network dedicated to emerging designers worldwide, realized they didn’t have enough male models for their show, Brogdon came to the rescue and made his modeling debut at NYFW for Nolo, a luxury Mexican streetwear brand. 

“This was my first time modeling for anything, and it happened at New York Fashion Week,” Brogdon said. “It was a lot going from zero to a hundred. It felt like a lot of responsibility because you’re there to showcase someone’s artwork and their creativity.”

The spur-of-the-moment opportunity came from the University Fashion Group, which selected 19 students to attend the Spring 2023 NYFW from Feb. 9 to 13 in order to gain firsthand experience, business connections and confidence at one of the most important events in the fashion industry. 

“It makes you feel very capable,” Brogdon said. “(Modeling at NYFW showed me) you definitely can do things and meet the challenge if you really need to.” 

Every year, UFG sends students to both the fall and spring fashion weeks in New York. Selected students get to work and attend one show where they learn industry practices and network with designers. 

“I worked the show for the Global Fashion Collective, and there were designers from Japan,  Indonesia (and) all over the world,” said Eva Sharma, a business honors freshman and UFG member. “I learned so much, not only about independence but also about how to navigate with a completely new group of people that I didn’t know before.” 

While students of all majors can be selected for the opportunity, the trip provides extra help to textiles and apparels majors who are required to hold one industry internship in order to graduate. 

“New York is the epicenter of fashion, so being able to go there, network and talk to people is extremely important,” Brogdon said. “I got my internship at the last New York Fashion Week with a company in Japan, which was crazy, … so it’s definitely helped me a lot.”

Despite the glamor of high fashion, students also spend the weekend working through fast-paced and high-stress situations, such as having to get models changed into their outfits in under a minute, to ensure the shows run as seamlessly as possible. 

“It’s not all glitter and rainbows,” UFG officer Faith McNabnay said. “It’s very confusing. It’s stressful, and it’s hard work that gets these beautiful things to happen. Everyone who works behind the scenes deserves so much credit for what they do because it is not easy.”

However, students experience more than just work by bonding over their shared interests and exploring the city together.

“I was excited to make friends outside of my major and bond with my roommates,” Sharma said. “My roommates from fashion week are the closest friends that I’ve made this year. … We all share the same interests and passion for fashion.”

With spontaneous runway walks and hectic backstage environments, NYFW promises uncertainty but also provides students with an enriching and exciting experience, McNabnay said.

“It’s something that I never thought I would ever actually do,” McNabnay said. “It’s one of those things that you see online or you see people talking about and you never think, ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna get to do that one day.’ It was such a dream come true.”