A pair of South Carolina student-athletes hit “the Big Apple” recently for a chance learn more about their prospective careers by taking part in New York Fashion Week. CLC, the nation’s leading collegiate licensing company, and IMG, the operator of New York Fashion Week, partner to provide this one-of-a-kind educational experience to more than two dozen students from around the country each year.
“I wanted to go because I wanted confirmation to see if I wanted to continue in retail and fashion design,” said Jalen Clark, a junior on the track and field team, who is majoring in retail management. “This offered me that confirmation, and I want to continue to pursue it. I’ve always wanted to own my own business or maybe even get into modeling, so I thought this was a great major for me to pursue. I’ve done some designs myself, and I’d like to continue to work on that as well.”
“I have family friends who are in the fashion industry, and they started the Obey Clothing Company,” said Misa Malkin, a junior on the women’s tennis team, who is studying sport management. “That sort of opened my eyes to what I wanted to do. Going into sport management, I didn’t think about going into the fashion industry, but this past year I had the opportunity to dabble in it a little bit at an event for (student-athletes) sophomores, and I was able to do their makeup, and that sort of got me excited about it. I was getting interested in the marketing of it. When I found out about this, I thought it was a great opportunity to tie in marketing, fashion, and media. I would eventually like to start my own clothing brand.”
The unique program gives future fashion leaders a behind-the-scenes look at the industry as students have opportunities to attend a runway show, meet with industry executives, and enjoy panel discussions. Clark had visited the city several times before, while it was Malkin’s first trip to New York, but they were equally excited about the experience.
“We spoke with a lot of the directors, managers, designers, and everyone that was part of the fashion industry at Champion headquarters,” Malkin said. “We toured their facility, and they showed us what we could possibly do in the future. We were able to customize our own hoodies and apparel. So, that gave me a little taste of what it could be like to be a designer. That was really awesome. The following day, we went to the fashion show, and my jaw just dropped! That lit a spark where I felt like I was falling in love with the fashion industry.”
“I really liked it when we met with fashion experts at Champion. We also toured places like Times Square, and attended fashion shows,” Clark said. “We met with the creative director at Champion, and I learned a lot from him. He broke down the fashion industry and told us what it takes to run a business. With the fashion shows, it was amazing to see all the different styles on the runways and see people express their style. I was surprised at how laid back a lot of people were. I thought it would be more of an uptight kind of business, but it was the opposite.”
“It was a once in a lifetime experience. It gave me more insight into what I want to do.”
For Clark and Malkin, the opportunity to meet leading fashion designers, production teams, and others in the business created a truly immersive experience that they intend to carry forward as they pursue a career and life after sports.
“The main thing I learned was that everybody’s time doesn’t come at the same time,” Clark said. “You have to stay patient, and your time will come eventually. As human beings, we always want our time to come right now, but you have to stay patient and keep working at your craft.”
“I’m just thankful to South Carolina for giving me the opportunity to do this!”
“It was incredible,” Malkin said. “Seeing everyone behind the scenes of the fashion show, seeing them working to put on something so special, and then seeing the show come together was so amazing. It was a once in a lifetime experience. It gave me more insight into what I want to do. It was more inspiring than anything else! I felt very grateful and blessed to have that opportunity.”