Aug 4, 2011
Friends, I read this article in today's New York Times (you may have to click through an ad to get there, my apologies) and wanted to share it with you. It's about fashion camp -- a summer program for tweens and teens who want to become fashion designers.
During the one-week program, the young participants "dream up their own fashion brands, tour museums, learn to blog, attend lectures by stylists and editors, and barnstorm shops like Barneys and Saks in trips known as 'market visits.'"
Readers, is it me, or is something missing here -- like sewing? I mean, I recognize that the fashion industry is about a lot more than designing and manufacturing clothes (and branding is a BIG part of it), but I wonder what this program really aims to achieve. What does a fashion designer actually do today? You'd think they mainly just shopped,"styled," and blogged -- and cut pictures out of magazines.
Maybe I need to go to fashion camp myself (or start one, ha ha).
In the spirit of full disclosure, from ages 8-12, I went to a music and arts day camp run by the Y. While the kids at the "normal" Y camp did sports all day, we "creatives" spent the morning rehearsing plays, doing ceramics, and building ice-cream stick... actually, I'm not sure what we were making with those ice cream sticks; I dimly recall boxes, many boxes (like log cabins, only flatter).
Then in the afternoon we did the stuff the other kids did, like archery or playing softball or volleyball, only very, very badly. At the end of the day we had a short swim in a big pool and then piled back on the bus to go home. I had a great time, but this camp was strictly amateur hour.
I get that a lot of kids today -- particularly teen girls -- are into style and fashion in a way that kids of my generation rarely were. Fashion wasn't marketed as heavily to young people back then (the Seventies) and there was nothing like "Project Runway" or the Olsen twins.
The first thing that jumped out at me about this fashion camp is the cost, which seems high (and doesn't include room and board), and is obviously beyond the reach of most kids. The second part is that it has a pre-professional edge to it, or so it seems. These kids want to work in "fashion" and this is, for them, a way to get into it. Will they, ultimately? Who knows.
In high school, I knew kids who went to tennis camp and music camp and theater camp, and today there's computer camp, math camp, science camp... I wouldn't be surprised if there was drag camp. (In my late teens I was actually a counselor at Zoo Camp -- don't ask.)
If kids have a passion and the parents can afford to send them to a camp that helps them to cultivate it, is there anything wrong with that?
I'm reminded how differently kids today pick up skills than in the past. A century ago, if you wanted to become, say, an actor, you learned from other actors -- there were vaudeville troupes and local theaters and many opportunities to perform. There were no fancy camps (let alone MFA programs); you learned by doing and you didn't pay money for the privilege. If you were good, they paid you.
Of course, if truth be told, most kids involved in the fashion industry today ARE sewing -- but that's another blog post.
In closing, wise readers, what do you think of "fashion camp" and the Times article? If you had a child who was interested in fashion, would you send her (or him) to a program like this?
How would you support a child who wanted to enter the fashion industry today?