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Penn Campus Gets Into Fashion Fray

The University of Pennsylvania held its first fashion week on campus last week, bringing the Ivy League campus into the fashion fold.

PHILADELPHIA — The University of Pennsylvania held its first fashion week on campus last week, bringing the Ivy League campus into the fashion fold.

Penn Fashion Week 2007 included 10 events, such as a GlamShots Photo Shoot fund-raiser, allowing students to have their makeup done by professional makeup artists and have their photos taken by a photographer, and the fourth annual Dzine2Show fashion show titled Duael, featuring both student designs and local boutiques, held at Penn’s Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. There also was a fashion and retailing career panel discussion featuring such speakers as Jacky Clyman, executive vice president of Cockpit; Joan Shepp, owner of the high-end Philadelphia boutique bearing her name, and Stacey Monsen, men’s design director at Steve & Barry’s.

Fashion week was organized by a committee made up of members from Dzine2Show, Fashion Fashion Society, the Wharton Retail Club and Delta Sigma Pi.

The panel discussion was moderated by Bill Cody, managing director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative at the Wharton School and a lecturer in the marketing department. The panelists described the divergent paths they each took to become successful fashion executives and offered insights into today’s retail environment. Panelists were in agreement that it’s best to train at an established department or specialty store, or apparel manufacturer, before striking out on one’s own. Steve & Barry’s Monsen said that, this way, you learn other companies’ best practices. She also believes it’s easier to go from a larger retailer to a smaller one than the other way around, since you learn how to manage a much more complex business.

Shepp, who runs a designer specialty boutique on Rittenhouse Square, recalled that when she first started out in Philadelphia, she used to travel to New York to buy handbags from department stores such as Bloomingdale’s to sell at her store until she began going directly to the wholesaler. Noting how things have come full circle, Wharton’s Cody pointed out that several weeks ago, Terry Lundgren, chairman and chief executive of Federated, was in town and wanted to see Shepp’s Rittenhouse Square store and windows.

The highlight of fashion week came Friday night, when student models took to the runways showcasing both student designs and local boutique clothing. Shoes were designed by Andrew White, a Penn junior who paints designs on high-heeled shoes and sneakers. On Saturday, Design2Sell held a trunk show, clothing drive and corporate charity auction, where the Penn designers and boutiques sold their clothing that was shown on the runways.

This story first appeared in the April 2, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Tying in with fashion week is Penn’s new fashion magazine titled The Walk, which launched last November and currently is out with its spring issue. In it, Penn students model the clothes, shoot the layouts and write features. It is supported by advertising from companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch.