Wharton retail center aids students' fashion careers
January 28, 2011, 3:01 am · Updated January 28, 2011, 12:00 am·
A $25,000 prize and a night with designer Diane von Furstenberg at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York sounds like a fantasy to most Penn students. This January, the dream became a reality for Wharton junior Tony Wang.
This year, Wang was one of eight recipients of the Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship, and one of only four to receive $25,000. On Jan. 11, he was honored at the 45th Annual YMA Scholarship Fund Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Dinner in New York.
Wang first became involved with retail at Penn through the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center, which recently received a $15 million donation from Patty and Jay Baker.
Wang hopes to see this money “go into making retail a more formalized presence on campus.”
Currently, retail is only a secondary concentration in the Wharton School. Students can only concentrate in this area as a subset of the marketing concentration, according to Director of the Center Barbara Kahn, who added that the creation of a primary retail concentration is a “possibility.”
“We are becoming more student-focused. We want to make sure we have the right courses, the right curriculum, and the right internships,” she added.
One way the Center helps students is by preparing them for the Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship.
Students competing for the scholarship are required to submit a proposal for a “Store of the Future.” Wang’s winning proposal — Savant — “is a digital brand that offers competitively priced, designer-quality clothing online,” he wrote in an e-mail.
“What makes my brand special is that the clothing is unique, made by top-notch designers,” Wang wrote. “The store also will be technologically savvy — using new Web 2.0 technologies and social media tools to engage with consumers.”
Wang added that he plans to use his prize money to pay for college and clothes, and to finance his blog, postfashionism.com.
Although most of Wang’s “fashion stuff” is “removed from the Penn community,” he said that the Center, which helped him qualify and enter the competition, is “a great resource that a lot of people don’t know about it.”
The Center is on its way toward becoming “the preeminent place for retail,” Kahn said.
Another student involved with the Center is Wharton junior Marlena Filipowska, who is the recent recipient of the Jim Edelman/Macy’s Scholarship in conjunction with the YMA Scholarship Fund.
Filipowska, who is president of the Wharton Retail Club, says the presence of the retail industry at Penn is “still growing.”
“I don’t know how many Wharton students think about retailing,” Kahn said, “but it is a very exciting career.”