Philadelphia University welcomed David Sirkin ’94, president of PVH neckwear, and other industry experts and alumni from PVH to campus March 26 for Explore Fashion Day.
Nearly 200 current and prospective students filled The Tuttleman Center auditorium to hear from the panel of fashion leaders from PVH, including Sirkin; George Sanchez, director of technical design; Lisa Dudzik, product development admin manager; Rebecca Culp ’07, designer; and Nureed Saeed ’99, vice president of licensing for the Greg Norman Collection at PVH.
The panelists talked about getting started in fashion, as well as industry trends and the importance of a well-rounded education. Adrianna Corso ’13, president of FIA, and Emily Wooten, editor-in-chief of StyleLine, interviewed the guests.
“I remember being a prospective student and telling my dad that I wanted to go into fashion,” Saeed said. “He said that’s a hobby, not a job. Reluctantly, he came around and supported me. Looking back on it, it was absolutely the right decision. And both of my parents are so proud of me now. Fashion is not a hobby, it is a job. It’s a part of life; everybody needs apparel. This is where it all starts.”
The panelists emphasized how important it is to understand different facets of the industry, from accounting to design and manufacturing, distribution or sales. “Philadelphia University teaches you so much about all sides of the industry, from textile engineering to working with design and more,” Culp said. “It’s so important to understand all of the fundamentals of the business and then apply all of your creativity to that. The base I learned here allowed me to grow with PVH.”
“One thing you can really get here at the school is they will expose you to the different parts of the industry,” Saeed said. “It’s important to take advantage of that and learn everything you can.”
Others on the panel agreed. Sanchez, who started as a womenswear designer and later transitioned to menswear and later technical design, emphasized the need to be willing to reinvent yourself and continue learning. “I like the fact that you are mixing different curriculums,” he said. “The more you can bring people from different areas together with different points of view, that will make fashion so much more exciting.”
Sirkin, who toured the PhilaU campus and fashion studios with his colleagues before the panel, raved about what PhilaU has accomplished since he graduated. “What faculty and administration have done here to give students an opportunity to learn is amazing,” Sirkin said. “They’ve taken it up a notch or five.”
Culp closed the program with a reminder and a challenge. “Let us not paint too rosy of a picture for you,” she said. “When you get out of here, you have to work hard. There is a lot of competition, and nothing is going to be handed to you.” But for those who are willing to put in extra effort, she said, the industry is full of opportunities.