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From the Pitch to the Runway

by Brad Muller

South Carolina women’s soccer sophomore Dru Drake took a break from the pitch to check out the runway for New York Fashion Week earlier this month. Through a partnership with CLC, the nation’s leading collegiate licensing company, and IMG, a global leader in sports, fashion, events, and media, 27 students from 18 universities around the country were able to take part in this unique educational experience which provides students a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry. The students are able to take in runway shows, panel discussions, and networking opportunities with industry leaders.

“I thought this would be an incredible opportunity to experience things that I would never be able to do on my own,” said Drake, who is studying retail management. “When we first got there, we probably walked seven miles that day! This was a really unique opportunity.”

The students attended runway shows with iconic fashion brand Badgley Mischka and top Korean designer Son Jung Wan, as well as a tour of curated fashion showrooms. They enjoyed a backstage experience that included special access to the TRESemmé Style Studios, an IMG Models Photo Studio, and an exploration of the creation of runway looks. They also took part in a Q&A with representatives from WME Fashion.

“We went to the show, and there were so many influencers,” Drake said. “I saw Kelly Rutherford, who is an icon in the fashion industry. The show was awesome. After that, we went to the IMG and WME Fashion headquarters. We spoke with a lot of the professionals there, and they talked to us about how they got to where they are now. It was cool to hear from people so high up in the industry. I would say that was my favorite part.”

Dru Drake New York Fashion Week 2024
“The most important thing I got out of this was networking. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in. When you know people, that’s how you get jobs.”
Dru Drake  . 

Drake and her fellow students also spent a day with collegiate licensee Champion where they learned how a clothing line is developed and merchandised and had the opportunity to collaborate with the store team to customize their own garment.

“We designed our own sweatshirts and picked out what designs we wanted on it,” Drake said. “Then we went to Champion headquarters and had the chance see behind the scenes of everything there. I didn’t know this, but Under Armour and Champion are affiliated with Hanes, so there was all this Carolina gear in there. At first, I thought, did they do this for me?”

As Drake continues navigate her next two-plus years of college and soccer, she’s happy to have some insight into a career when her playing days are over.

“The most important thing I got out of this was networking,” Drake said. “It doesn’t matter what industry you are in. When you know people, that’s how you get jobs. Just creating relationships is so important and can go such a long way. That’s why this was so incredibly useful for me to do.”

New York Fashion Week with Dru Drake