7 Fashion Insiders Share Where They Went to College and What They Studied

Rebecca Suhrawardi
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Are you heading to college with dreams of breaking into the fashion industry? Ever wonder what to study in order to get there? We asked some of our favorite fashion insiders where they went to university and what they look for, education-wise, in the people they hire. Here’s what they had to say.

Alice + Olivia Stacey Bendet

Stacey Bendet, Designer and Founder, Alice + Olivia

Alma Mater: University Of Pennsylvania

“I did not come from the traditional fashion school background, studying International Relations and French at the University of Pennsylvania. When we hire for design positions, we do generally recruit from design schools. But in other areas of the company—sales, marketing, digital, e-comm, etc., I always look for diverse backgrounds and I love students from Ivy League schools who have studied internationally and have a unique perspective and interest in the fashion world. Enthusiasm, creativity and a positive attitude are the most important features for me in a candidate for any job!”

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 13: Editor at Nylon Magazine Faran Krentcil attends the Karen Walker Autumn/Winter 2010 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Altman Building on February 13, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Karen Walker)

Source: Getty Images

Faran Krentcil, Editor-at-Large, ELLE.com and Contributing Editor, Yahoo Style 

Alma Mater: Duke University

“I went to Duke University, and threw myself into two things: drama and the school newspaper. From both, I learned the importance of deadlines, teamwork, patience, focus, and taking creative risks—even if at first, I seemed crazy. My university experience was amazing, but unfortunately in this country, you have to be both smart and fortunate to easily attend a ‘good’ school. That’s why when hiring, I look at things like internships, clips, and the candidate’s initial email asking about a job. That tells me so much about their writing skills!”

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Source: Shashi Menon

Shashi Menon, Publisher, Style.com (Arabia)

Alma Mater: University of Southern California

“I attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where, after beginning as a Computer Engineering major, I ended up doing a dual major in Strategy and Finance. In terms of education, I look for candidates that have practical experience, much of which I believe is gained outside of the classroom. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for experience.”

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Timo Weiland attends All Aboard! as W Hotels toasts the upcoming opening of W Amsterdam with 'Captains' Taylor Schilling, Erin Heatherton, Chanel Iman, Coco Rocha and more on the Grand Banks on August 18, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for W Hotels Worldwide)

Source: Getty Images

Timo Weiland, Designer, Timo Weiland

Alma Mater: Vanderbilt University

“I graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2005. At Timo Weiland, we always look for people who have a balance of core curriculum—not necessarily fashion—and extracurriculars that are long-term involvements. Also, those that take initiative to attend courses outside their major, i.e. a WashU grad in Liberal Arts who also audited fashion courses there or attended courses at FIT after graduation.”

attends the Bionda Castana Store Opening on Elizabeth Street on June 4, 2015 in London, England.

Source: Getty Images

Natalia Barbieri, Co-Founder and Designer, Bionda Castana

Alma Mater: University of Westminster

“I went to university in London at the University of Westminster. What we expect is the right balance of creative courses and business studies on a candidate’s CV, as our business requires that. Also, to be honest, what is even more important is their level of work experience. The real world is the true education.”

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 26: Producer Shruti Ganguly poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald's McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

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Shruti Ganguly, Vice President Television and Video, NYLON

Alma Mater: Northwestern University (undergraduate), NYU (graduate)

“I went to Northwestern University for my undergrad, where I started off with a double major in Economics and Fine Arts, and ended up with a Communications Studies and Art double major and business minor. And really, in undergrad, what I learned the most, especially being at a university in America, is that you can explore and expand, try new things and find surprises in the classes that seem interesting. And that’s how I ended up working in the film and entertainment business—it’s because of a class I took called ‘Women in Indian Cinema’ that just sounded interesting.

The ironic thing is that years later, I went to NYU for my Masters and got an MBA at Stern, and an MFA in film at Tisch, which in an odd way is like the accelerated version of what I was studying when I first moved to the States.

For potential candidates, I would want to see their curiosity piqued and there being a great willingness to learn. Hard work and determination are also key. To some extent education helps, but a lot of the time it’s about their persistence and following up—if they meet you at a panel or event or seek you out—or their references and previous work experience.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02: Mandi Lennard attends the #Grazia10 talk "The Changing Face Of Celebrity" with Mandi Lennard, Simon Jones, Ella Gregory, Dave Benett and chaired by Gaby Roslin at Getty Images Gallery on March 2, 2015 in London, England. The #Grazia10 is an exhibition to celebrate ten years of the iconic weekly magazine with a series of talks and events hosted at Getty Images Gallery. (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for #Grazia10)

Source: Getty Images

Mandi Lennard, London PR Maven and Tastemaker, Founder Mandi’s Basement

Alma Mater: None

“I didn’t go to university. However, just lately I’ve been struck by the innate professionalism of several women I am dealing with who work for such places as M.A.C Cosmetics and Ace Hotel, and realize they have been to university. Which is not something you usually pick up on, but nevertheless, for me, they stand out, much the same way that a Royal College of Art graduate stands out from a Central Saint Martin’s one—there’s a greater formality and discipline—and in that respect, I have realized and appreciate the advantage of such a formal education.

What I look for in a potential candidate is not just their knowledge, but a well-rounded character, too. It’s the way in which they operate professionally and also how they interact with people, how they can appreciate the greater picture, and how grounded they are.”

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