NC State Students Experience New York Fashion Week
By Sarah Stone
Twice a year, New York City becomes the fashion capital of the world as it welcomes designers, models, buyers and more for New York Fashion Week (NYFW). This semester, more than half a dozen students at the Wilson College of Textiles had the opportunity to experience one of the industry’s most important events in-person.
From interning to student programming and even designing, see how these students returned to Raleigh with valuable lessons and connections.
Seven students complete runway production internships
This spring marked Riley Warpula’s second NYFW. The brand management and marketing senior earned a production assistant internship at a NYFW venue called TheLab. This year, she got promoted to a team leader position, which meant the opportunity to build her own team; she brought six other Wilson College students along with her to New York City.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself, my leadership style and my work ethic,” Warpula says. “I’ve learned that I don’t want to work in a tense, cutthroat environment like NYFW day in and day out, but I’ve enjoyed the times that I’ve done it.”
During her internship, Warpula managed her team and also coordinated with models, designers and behind the scenes scheduling. The production assistants she oversaw did a little bit of everything, from dressing models and ensuring they walked down the runway in the right order and at the right time to setting up the venue for the next show.
“There’s so much that goes into the whole production of every aspect of New York Fashion Week,” Alix Parsons, a senior in brand management and marketing, says. “If you’re in the audience or if you’re watching a fashion show, you’re looking at models and they look incredible, but you’re not thinking about everything that goes on behind the scenes. That’s something I really wouldn’t have thought about before I had this experience.”
Meredith Howell: Growing her business
Senior Meredith Howell’s designs sold at two different pop up shops during NYFW this spring. Howell, who is studying fashion development and product management, designed a set of bucket hats for A. Kings in her signature tapestry style. She designed a similar set for Hip Hop group EarthGang last year.
Howell also developed a new line of t-shirts to sell in a separate pop up shop that she co-hosted with J. Reid. She found out about the opportunity last minute, and credits the Wilson College’s labs and Professor Andre West for helping her make it happen.
“I usually screen print my t-shirts by hand, but by the time I got the t-shirts back from the manufacturer, I was only going to have a week to get them all printed, so it just wasn’t feasible for me to do it all myself,” she says. “I contacted Dr. West because he taught one of my first-year courses. I asked him if there was anything they could help us out with, and he was just so nice and so open to helping us.”
Ultimately, West used the digital printing lab to get Howell’s t-shirts ready for NYFW in just a few days.
She says the opportunity with J. Reid also gave her real-world experience handling larger pop ups and selling to clients who are less familiar with her work.
“I think the main thing that I learned was how to work with others so that you’re both making the most out of your skill set,” she says. “Because I was one of the youngest people participating in most of the events, I had to learn to take myself seriously and also to not take it personally if I don’t make a sale.”
Despite the learning curve, Howell counts the opportunity as a success. She ultimately sold out of almost all of the inventory she brought with her to Manhattan.
“This shop was a whole different experience than the pop up shops I’ve done before in North Carolina. A lot of my friends came and helped out. I learned that being a fashion entrepreneur at this level takes much more than I thought it would, but I also felt really well received by New York, which was a big deal to me because it’s the fashion capital of America. So it made me feel like my brand is bigger than like North Carolina and can expand past only selling streetwear.”
Jasmine VanBlon: Learning from U of NYFW
Sophomore Jasmine VanBlon spent three days exploring all sides of the industry through the U of NYFW program. A partnership between the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State University’s Trademark Licensing Office made the all-expenses-paid experience possible.
“Attending New York Fashion Week has always been a really big dream of mine,” says VanBlon, who is pursuing a bachelor’s in fashion and textile design (FTD) with a concentration in fashion design.
In addition to attending two fashion shows, including a look behind the scenes at hair and makeup, VanBlon also had the opportunity to explore other parts of the fashion industry. She toured Champion headquarters, where she got a sneak peek at the brand’s 2025 collection, learned more about their creative design process and even designed her own set of custom sweats.
U of NYFW also held two different panels with executives from across the industry to allow students to learn and ask questions. VanBlon heard from professionals in the design, merchandising and marketing fields.
“I felt like I learned a lot from the trip itself by taking notes from the other students around me,” she says. “I learned a lot about networking, and the panelists gave a lot of great advice about how to interview and follow up with connections.”