Skip to main content
Our People

Melis Hafizoglu ’24: From Art2Wear to Alo Yoga

Melis Hafizoglu in front of a wall of thread spools.

Landing internships with some of America’s trendiest fashion brands, sending two collections down the runway, working behind the scenes of multiple New York Fashion Week shows: these are all accomplishments Melis Hafizoglu never could have predicted when she enrolled in NC State four years ago. 

To be fair, she didn’t even know she’d graduate from the Wilson College of Textiles. 

“I started off my first year in the Exploratory Studies program, which is basically for undecided students. I had literally no idea what I wanted to do,” Hafizoglu remembers.

Behind the scenes at Platform magazine at NC State, where Hafizoglu was a stylist.
Melis with fellow show interns, all Wilson College interns, at New York Fashion Week.

When her advisor prompted her to look through NC State’s catalog and when she found out about the fashion programs, she says, there was no turning back. She immediately changed her major to fashion and textile management. 

Hafizoglu entered the fashion development and product management (FDPM) concentration with barely any sewing experience, and that learning curve could have intimidated many other students. Instead, long hours in the studio and the courage to chase after big opportunities have built an impressive college resume. 

The most recent addition to that resume? An internship with Forbes 30 Under 30 winner, and fellow FDPM alumna, Ritika Shamdasani. Hafizoglu reached out after the co-founder of Sani, a skyrocketing apparel brand whose partnerships include Nordstrom and Rent the Runway, came to speak in one of her classes. Working with such a quickly growing startup gave her invaluable experience with everything from social media to design and merchandising. 

“They gave me a lot of opportunities to take the lead on projects. By working with a smaller team, I’ve been able to gain a lot of confidence in myself professionally. It’s been really fun to get a lot of visibility in a lot of different sides of the industry.”

Next, she’ll launch her post-collegiate apparel design career with Alo Yoga in Beverly Hills. 

“If I hadn’t applied to all the things I did, I wouldn’t have gotten lucky or made the connections I made,” she says. “I wouldn’t have ended up where I am.”

What has been your most impactful experience? 

Art2Wear. It’s not that I’m necessarily obsessed with the collection I made throughout that semester, but it was during a time that my dad was sick. We found out that my dad had brain cancer in June and then throughout that year he was battling cancer, which was really tough on all of us.  

I applied to Art2Wear because I wanted to make a collection with my dad. We came up with the concept together and it was really special. He was a mathematician who didn’t understand fashion, and I love fashion but don’t understand math. The theme for that year was Kinetic, so I focused on the kinetic movement of fashion and mathematics and the intersection of it. 

Melis Hafizoglu and her mother after the Art2Wear show.

It was a really tough semester because in the spring he actually passed away, and that’s when I was creating the collection. But it ended up being all the more meaningful because I was just so determined to finish that collection no matter what. It was just really special getting to creatively express my grief and my gratitude. It was a really impactful semester.

Which class at the Wilson College has been your favorite? 

Senior Studio. It was so much fun developing my own collection to show at Threads and being in an intensive studio environment. The stress and the pressure of it all really pushes you to challenge yourself. And I was so proud of how everything I made turned out. 

Melis Hafizoglu with models
Melis (center) with her models in her collection at the Raleigh Contemporary Art Museum. Photo Courtesy: Amanda Law

You also just build such a unique connection with the other people in the class because you’re going through the same stress and spending so much time in the studio together. Dr. Law taught it and was the best professor ever. I’m really biased because she’s also been my advisor since sophomore year, but she’s really genuine and you can tell she cares so much about every individual student. 

Tell us more about your internship with American Eagle last summer! 

It was my first time living in New York City. It was a long enough time to get a feel of whether I would realistically want to live there and I loved it. I was working a stop away from Times Square and it really made me feel like I was living my own episode of Sex and The City. 

They really wanted their interns to get a feel of everything they possibly could. So even though I was on the production team, while I was there, I shadowed the fabric team, the design team and the merchandising team. I realized I didn’t want to go into the production side of the business, but it was still a really cool environment and taught me about how much I value company culture. 

With her fellow American Eagle interns.
Visiting a textile show with American Eagle.

What advice would you give to your first-year self?

Be as curious as possible. Try everything you’re slightly interested in and don’t feel stupid for applying to things that you feel like you’ll never get. Be confident in yourself and trust your ability.