APPLY YOURSELF: Aspiring fashion designers, who prefer to hold off on their job search until the economy gains some strength, now have the option of enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology’s new Fashion Design M.F.A. program. Available to students in a range of sectors including apparel design, architecture, engineering and software development, the two-year, full-time program will be built around each accepted student’s proposal that they define in his or her application.

Rather than race to graduation, FIT faculty will focus on a measured pace in order to encourage students to give more thought to their career objectives. Classes will include such unexpected ones as “The Fashion Activist,” to help students consider new ways of thinking about sustainability and design ethics and “Craft:ology” to try to instill creative confidence through craft and technology.

The program’s creator, chair and professor Jonathan Kyle Farmer, said the aim is to have students present ideas that could potentially impact the fashion world, and help them achieve that goal. “The relentless pace of fashion can hinder innovation, so here the design process will slow down to allow experimentation and reflection, and ultimately, a different way of looking at it.”

Through his work at FIT, Farmer will spur on participants to consider design concepts in relation to history/future, theory, philosophy and practice within a structured format with the support of mentors. The curriculum will zero in on research methods and critical thinking meant to encourage innovation in design, fit and construction, among other areas. His game plan includes four core concepts — “Play” will involve brainstorming with faculty to bring their thesis to realization, “Focus” will partner students with an industry contact who will help them fine-tune their ideas, “Edit” to develop the strongest prototypes and “Conclude” — a finale of sorts that will feature about 12 looks, a thesis worth defending and presentations with investors and fashion leaders.

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