This year’s Penn Fashion Week shifted away from its past focus on business, bringing in creatives from the industry and showcasing student talent.
“The goal of this year’s theme was to follow the retail process all the way from ideating the product to actually moving it onto the shelf,” Penn Fashion Week Chief Operating Officer and College junior Daniel Jacobs said.
Co-CEOs of Penn Fashion Week and Wharton seniors Cat Ding and Mindy Zou, along with Jacobs, collaborated with the Wharton Retail Club, Penn Fashion Collective and business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi to organize a week of events under the theme Fashion 360.
The week’s grand finale was the student-run fashion show, “Neo-Renaissance.” The Saturday show was organized by the Penn Fashion Collective. Student models walked the runway in outfits designed by students at Penn and other universities.
“We sought to bring together different elements from formal and informal, to old and new,” Penn Fashion Collective President Emily Cheng said. “I think this show is very different from what we have done in the past.”
Other events included a Monday keynote speaker event with Arielle Charnas, founder of SomethingNavy — a business she grew out of her personal Instagram account — and her sister, Danielle Nachmani, a stylist and business-owner. Charnas and Nachmani discussed the development of their careers in fashion, their brand strategies and achieving a work-life balance.
Jacobs moderated the discussion, posing questions to Charnas about balancing branded content with original content on her website and Instagram page. “We post as many organic posts throughout the week [as we can], and then try to add in a sponsored post or two. I think it’s hard not to turn people off with ads, but I do try to make the content as organic as possible, and maintain the trust of my following,” Charnas said.
“[Nachmani] brought an interesting perspective, and the interaction between her and her sister made for a very dynamic keynote,” Ding said. “The name recognition of our keynotes also really helped achieve our goal of reaching out to students who don’t usually come to fashion events, and expose them to an industry that they don’t know a lot about.”
Each day in the week had a designated focus on a specific segment of the retail industry. Tuesday’s event focused on design, with a visit from Design Director of fashion brand Carolina Herrera, Ludwig Heissmeyer.
Zou said Heissmeyer’s visit was reflective of the Penn Fashion Week team’s effort to branch out into different sides of the retail industry.
“We don’t get people on the creative side very often. We are so closely associated with Wharton that the people in our network usually tend to be on the business end,” Zou said. “I think it is great for students to think about retail as a creative field to enter.”
This year’s Penn Fashion Week saw a surge in overall attendance throughout the week in comparison to previous years, Zou said. Approximately 100 students attended the keynote speaker event, with between 40 and 70 students attending the following days.
Wednesday’s speakers spoke about production and merchandising, and Thursday’s panel focused on sales and buying.
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