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November 25, 2019

Students earn credits for high fashion courses in Italy, Vegas and NYC

It was the summer of 2019. Savana Freeman could hardly believe she was standing on a street corner in Florence, Italy, about to enter a Gucci store in the luxury brand's birthplace.

She was there as part of JCCC’s first Study Abroad program at Florence University of the Arts (FUA). “When I learned I could get credit toward my degree while studying in Florence, I knew I had to go,” she says. “I loved the idea of learning about fashion while seeing firsthand where so much of it started.”

During her three weeks in Florence, instead of studying in a classroom, Savana's class would go into the city and observe and talk about the local fashion and culture. “Italy helped me learn how culture is such an important part of fashion and gave me new eyes to appreciate every culture and its fashion,” Savana says. “Without culture, fashion would be lifeless.”

Fashioning a future

"Don’t let the fear hold you back from studying abroad; the reward is so great." Savana F., Fashion Merchandising and Marketing

Joy Rhodes, Fashion Merchandising & Design Chair, says it’s unique for fashion students at a two-year school to have the opportunity to study abroad after their first year. “It was such an incredible cultural and educational experience for the students who went; we plan to expand our offerings so more students can benefit from studying in Italy, one of the largest fashion capitals in the world,” says Rhodes.

Right now, students take the FUA course Fashion, Media and Culture (FTFCFM 300), an intensive three-week, 3-credit-hour course that fulfills the History of Costume (FASH 224) requirement for JCCC. But Rhodes has in mind more FUA classes and possible internships. She adds that students gain as much personally from the cultural experience of traveling abroad as they do from the educational aspects of the program.

International hands-on

Fashion Design student Chelsey Davis agrees.

Chelsey took two classes while studying at FUA: FTFCFM 300 and a three-week course that traveled between some of Italy’s top fashion destinations. She learned she was far more independent than before she studied abroad. “I loved the traveling class because I got to experience so many parts of Italy,” she says.

FTFCFM 300 is set up so students attend class Monday through Thursday and then have free time to hop on the Eurail and travel wherever they want Friday through Sunday. Both Chelsey and Savana traveled with students who were at FUA from all over the world. “Expect to make way better friends than you think you will!” Chelsey says.

MAGICal experience

Florence isn’t the only non-classroom experience where students can earn Fashion Design credit during the summer. In August, Rhodes led a group to Las Vegas to attend MAGIC (Men’s Apparel Guild in California), North America’s largest fashion tradeshow.

At MAGIC, students saw how apparel goes from wholesale to retail. According to Rhodes, the miles of vendor booths and numerous seminars barely scratch the surface of learning opportunities. In Vegas, almost every high-end major fashion brand has a boutique where students could see and touch products from designers they had studied in class. Double-degree seeker Michelle Lopez attended MAGIC, and says her dream is to one day return as a buyer for her own store.

The Fashion program also takes a trip to New York City every year. The next Field Study: The Market Center (FASH 268) course is in spring 2020, but is already filled. If you’re interested in this field study experience, check with Rhodes to get information on the next one.

Fashion dreams can come true

While FASH 215 (the Las Vegas field study class) and the Florence University of the Arts courses have additional costs beyond the credit hour fee, students who have participated in out-of-classroom courses agree it’s more than worth the expense. To help with costs, you can apply for a JCCC Study Abroad scholarship or a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

“Absolutely do it, and stay for as long as you can!” says Chelsey. “At the end of your course, you’ll wish you could do more. And it’s a fantastic thing to show future employers!”

If your dream goes beyond simply visiting an Italian Gucci store to one day working for the designer, check out our Fashion Merchandising & Design program.