Fashion Intelligence Symposium: Fashion + Technology

Fashion Intelligence Symposium: Fashion + Technology

By Amber Griggs 

This weekend was Murray Hill Institute's 5th annual Fashion Intelligence Symposium. The Fashion Institute of Technology was once again a gracious host for these cutting-edge conversations. It was a lively and informative afternoon with over 50 people in attendance. Our world is rapidly transforming. The three speakers addressed various areas where technology is bringing exciting changes to the fashion industry. The topics of sustainability, privacy, transparency and shifts in consumers’ taste came up again and again.


The first speaker, Janine Just, of Janine Just, Inc, a PR firm, spoke to us about blockchain. IBM recently mentioned that “blockchain will do for business what the internet did for communication.” She explained that blockchain is a complete ledger of all transactions that take place for a particular ecosystem. In other words, we will now be able to quickly see the lifecycle of products from where the materials originated to the point of sale by the consumer. While this still is a very new system and not yet widespread the implications are massive. Since blockchain is centralized in a database and updated in realtime it can be used to tackle counterfeits, track inventory, manage sales coupons and customer information and help enforce labor rights along the supply chain. Tasks that once took weeks will now take less than a few hours. The hope is that this new transparency will create a more ethical environment for every person involved. 


The second speaker was Michael Ferraro, the Executive Director of the FIT/Infor Design and Technology Lab also known as DTech. He explained how students nowadays, especially millennials, are demanding transparency and sustainability. Students and faculty at DTech lab have been working on a handful of exciting projects.  Michael spoke about a recent partnership with the brand Tommy Hilfiger called "Reimagining Retail." Over 600,000 images from social media, the runways and magazines were analyzed along with another 15,000 from the Tommy Hilfiger archives. They developed a program that instantly provides a visual recognition of trends in cognitive pattern, color, style and silhouette. It is like having a brilliant design assistant with you at all times. 

Michael mentioned how designers understand that apparel is going to start doing more than merely clothe the body but also interact with it. We are moving towards smart clothes. Another project they are working on with designers from Scandinavia is a backpack with a removable fannypack for cyclists. You, the rider, will be able to download directions to your destination and the smart backpack would buzz letting you know which way to turn while simultaneously signaling your movements to anyone behind you. He also stressed how the motivation behind buying is changing. We will start seeing more of a rental economy and less items being produced. It seems that companies like Rent the Runway are just one answer to the cries for more sustainability. 


The final speaker Ilaria Varoli came all the way from Toronto to speak to us about the groundbreaking future of textiles. As the executive Vice President and Co-founder of Myant, Inc she reminded us that fabric is what connects humans to technology. It literally touches 100% of the population. We all have an emotional attachment to textiles. They protect us. Ilaria spoke of how this can be a corrective towards present society’s movement towards disconnection. Oftentimes the most marginalized members of society: the elderly, the very young, the remote and the sick are often the most removed. The textiles used in clothing can be one way of uniting us.  

Myant has end-to-end capabilities. They have created a space for collaboration between engineers and textile designers. They have an in-house brand called Skiin (the double i stands for intelligent interface). Among the many fascinating projects that she spoke about I will just mention a few. They have designed a shirt that continuously monitors blood pressure, a knee brace that can create heat and electronic stimulation, an eye mask that tracks rem cycles and sleep patterns, they are developing a pregnancy band which could check the vital signs of both the mother and the baby. Just as the iPhone consolidated the need to own many devices into one, they hope that these smart e-textiles will soon sync up and streamline our devices. With these technologies the hope is that this baseline knowledge will help prevent medical episodes before they happen as well as monitor symptoms.    


Between the presentations, questions and answers, networking and exploring vendor displays, everyone walked away with new food for thought. Murray Hill Institute encourages person-oriented leadership and keeping the dignity of the human person at the center of importance. We saw how the new waves of technology are showing us that mass solutions do not always work and we need personalization and transparency to help foster the high levels of ethics and sustainability that many consumers are craving. We are just starting to see the positive social impact that blockchain and smart clothes have provided. It was an exciting day and we are already looking forward to next year’s cutting-edge conference. 


Building a Professional Network

Building a Professional Network

Photos by Mia F. Antonio

It has probably happened to most of us at some time or other—we are standing at the door of a “networking event” filled with animated people deep in conversation and suddenly nothing seems more appealing than heading as quickly as possible in the other direction. Of course, networking is so much more than those awkward-feeling introductions that are needed at times. On November 29, Ann Brennan shared her experience and suggestions on how to build a network of valuable partners who will help you achieve your goals at any point in your career. Ann is founder and Managing Partner of Brennan Executive Benefits, an insurance brokerage firm. She spoke to us from her own experience in building and maintaining trusted relations with business clients and strategic partners across multiple industries.   


Building these relationships takes time, planning, preparation, and organization. However, Ann’s strategies can be implemented little by little to help build a strong professional network in a purposeful way. Ann has kindly given us permission to link her presentation slides, “Cultivating Contacts and Influential Professional Relationships” to our website. You may be pleasantly surprised to see that you have already implemented some of her suggestions—if not, choose a starting point for yourself! You will help your own professional growth and in turn become a valuable resource for connecting many people who can benefit each other. 

After Ann's talk I left encouraged and empowered to pursue relationships with individuals of different professional backgrounds as a way of building up my own skill set and building a positive community of professionals pursuing excellence. As someone who works remotely with a national team, I was encouraged Thursday night by experiencing the local community that is being built up through the Murray Hill Institute. A reminder that I am not alone in wanting to pursue authentic and strategic relationships that are mutually beneficial and built on respect
—Michaela Brooks, Development Officer, St. Paul’s Outreach 


The advice that helped me the most is to keep a list of influential people and having meetings with them to build a relationship. It's important to note how helpful these people are to your industry, and if they aren't then to weed them out and continue to the build up a network. It's important to have meetings by phone, and/or in person. The conversations should be blunt and direct with why you are meeting with this particular person. 

I believe that a challenge would be to know who is an influential person in a list of many contacts one has? How to start a direct conversation with that influential person without being too pushy or rude? As well as not having an impostor syndrome of encountering that influential person. I think that as women we tend to over-think and over-analyze when encountering people as well as being self-judgmental.
Jacqueline Casquero, Educator specializing in urban children with disabilities and MHI mentee 

Focus Your Fears Into Action

Focus Your Fears Into Action

Photos by Mia F. Antonio 

By Maria Buckley    

We’ve heard it all before. I don’t have enough time, I don’t know if I actually want to, I don’t know if I’m good enough, if I do succeed then what…the list goes on and on. These and other fears were confronted at the Murray Hill Institute’s most recent event: Focus Your Fears Into Action. The podcast style conversation was led by Bevin Prince and Brittney Levine who recently launched their own podcast project, Be My Neighbor. Both Bevin and Brittney have found professional success in New York City after being in the limelight, dealing with rejection, and repeatedly putting themselves out there in order to go after their goals. Their shared experiences laid the groundwork for a deep friendship in which each one has learned, grown, and been supported by the other. A desire to share all they were learning from each other led them to create the Be My Neighbor podcast—a challenge riddled with plenty of fears. Bevin and Brittney led a conversation in which they shared how they confronted their own fears, so that those listening could leverage the tools they used in order to take their fears and turn them into action.


At this MHI event, each attendee was met with a pen and paper on her chair on which to write a goal or dream. Then, each one was invited to write down what has stopped them from achieving that goal or at least taking action--cue the laundry list from above. All of the reasons that went down on the paper are aptly called “blockers.” Unpacking how they got past their own blockers, Brittney and Bevin revealed that blockers aren't usually a real hindrance to progress. More than likely they're just an excuse to hide behind. This is the moment to examine each blocker and ask, “Is this true?” Ask yourself if the fear that is holding you back is something true and grounded in reality. This is tool #1 on your road to success.

Lack of time was the most commonly cited blocker, but is also the least grounded in reality. If there is something you care about doing you will make time for it. As a good friend would, Brittney bragged for Bevin about the amount of activities she is now involved in versus the many fewer obligations she juggled when they first met and Bevin claimed she had no time. When properly motivated by a goal greater than herself, Bevin was able to make time. The key to making time is to take the necessary steps to carve out and protect that time. Herein lies tool #2.

Find someone with a strength that is your weakness. Bevin quickly responded to Brittney’s compliment to explain that she can now do so many things because she learned time management, calendaring, and order from Brittney. If you can identify your weakness you are already on the way to mitigating it since you can seek out the appropriate solution. This exchange also illustrated a common theme of the conversation. People, especially women, should rely on each other as supports, to lift one another up; not to see each other exclusively as competition.

This is where tool #3 comes into play. Sometimes to get things done you have to put on “blinders” in order to ignore the competition, the nay-sayers, and negative criticism. If you put on your blinders and see that no friends or colleagues are left, get to work to surround yourself with good friends. Seek out this invaluable tool. People need other people who will help lift them up, encourage them, and offer constructive criticism.


Mindset was the last tool employed by Bevin and Brittney to make Be My Neighbor  happen. Both shared how they had to let go of their inhibitions and ego in order to fully engage in this project. Adopting a more playful and creative attitude allowed them both to enjoy the project and freely experiment with it to make it as good as possible. Bevin and Brittney were free to experiment and take risks because they were convinced that their success or failure in the venture was not what would give them dignity and worth. They were each already secure in their value as people and as friends, and this gave them the freedom to chase down their goal without getting sidetracked by the opinions of others. The last part of the good mindset tool was a piece of wisdom Brittney learned from her mother, who was quietly listening to the conversation from the back of the room. Pace and patience are essential to forming a success-oriented mindset. Brittney explained how she would make lists of her various priorities in A, B, C categories based on importance. If one persists and protects time, as happened to her, you will find that the A list priorities are accomplished, which makes the B list items the new A list and so on. Eventually you’ve accomplished the items on list C and new, previously undreamt of ideas and goals have taken their place.

The evening closed with other attendees sharing how they too eventually worked through their C list priorities and achieved success. Not only did everyone leave inspired and encouraged, but more importantly, each one left better equipped to pinpoint her goal and turn whatever fears were lingering before into action.


Art for Africa

Art for Africa


Although many had never tried their hand at painting before, 17 wannabe artists attended “Paint Night," an interactive fundraiser sponsored by Harambee USA. The benefit was held on Sept 14, 2018 at Stone Creek Bar in New York. The enthusiastic group was expertly guided by Ms. SoJung Kim, a professional artist, in painting an African-themed landscape. Everyone got to bring home their prized artwork, and participants clamored for another Paint Night that would include African food and music. Proceeds of the event will support the Harambee USA Foundation. Many thanks to our attendees and supporters as well as volunteers (Shu, Emily and Vangie) who did so much to make Harambee USA’s First Paint Night a special and fun evening. Murray Hill Institute was honored to promote this event and to welcome SoJung Kim, the gifted instructor, as a new mentee in our Mentoring Program. 


Fashion Intelligence Symposium 2018: Fashion in the Workplace

Fashion Intelligence Symposium 2018: Fashion in the Workplace

By Maria Buckley; Photo credit: Mia F. Antonio   

Once again, the last weekend in April brought a respite of sunshine and the fourth annual Murray Hill Institute Fashion Intelligence Symposium. The theme that MHI and the Fashion Institute of Technology used to build this year’s program was especially timely: Fashion in the Workplace. In a culture where the dynamic and standards in the workplace are changing faster than ever, this theme offered a moment to pause, reflect, and reassess. 

The topic of fashion and work has universal appeal as all women work, and many work at more than one type of job. What was so helpful about the Symposium was the emphasis on the specific needs of the individual. Each woman needs to look at and define what her workplace (or workplaces) are and what is required of her in each. A woman working in a bank is going to build a different wardrobe than a woman who works at home with her children throughout the day. Increasingly, more women need to build a wardrobe that will let them do both and seamlessly transition from one role to the other. Regardless of your job, you can argue that traditionally women have had more freedom and flexibility in their attire than men. Even the most conservative dress codes leave room for the elegant details of jewelry, nail polish, or a silk scarf on a briefcase. Women have the unique opportunity to use fashion as a tool in the workplace, as a way to teach without words. Every detail and every choice are ways to communicate who you are, what you stand for, and the standards you expect. 


A huge thank you is owed to the Fashion Institute of Technology for partnering on this event and adding so much from their rich and varied experience. FIT has seen the industry change and evolve and has adapted in response. Joanne Arbuckle, Deputy to the President for Industry Partnerships and Collaborative Programs, shared how the focus remains on the future as the school seeks to educate and shape the next generation of leaders in the industry. Ms. Arbuckle commented that the current moment finds the fashion industry collaborating with different industries and focusing on applying new advances in technology. 


Ms. Arbuckle also confirmed and explained two trends that you’ve likely experienced. First, consumers are demanding experiences to bring them into a brick and mortar store. When you can find anything online with just a few clicks, there needs to be something more exciting than the products themselves in a store. This is just one example of a perfect opportunity to collaborate with different industries, whether it is musicians, artists, or charities. Secondly, purchasing is down even though spending is up. Whether people are conscience of the environment or the size of their wallets, more and more individuals are starting to see the value in paying more to invest in something of higher quality that will last longer. (Click here for a longer summary of Joanne’s talk). 


On this same note, Taly Russell, Founder and CEO of SilverChair Partners spoke about the importance of investing in a few staple pieces, including: shoes, a black dress, and a quality rain jacket. After five years running her own executive search firm, Taly’s advice to dress simply and elegantly, so your colleagues or clients can focus on you, was very well received. Taly took the time to address several questions from the audience reminding everyone that while there are a few standard guidelines, no uniform set of fashion rules can fully apply to an individual situation. Questions ranged from what size earrings are appropriate in the office, if it is ok to dress more formally than your boss, and if nude pantyhose are really necessary or still in style. 


Karen Tai, founder of OnePointSix, built on the theme of the individual, encouraging consumers to demand more of the industry. She started her womenswear brand that “brings reimagined classics to today’s discerning and dynamic woman” as a result of her time working abroad where she saw the customizability of suiting available to her male colleagues. Believing that women deserve the same quality and function in their clothes, not shortcuts, she set about to found a brand for women that focuses on cut, proportion, construction, and quality. Getting these elements right is the key to dressing with confidence, which is paramount in the workplace.

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Attendees were reminded of the importance of the symposium’s theme when Melissa Norden gave testimony of how clothes and image really do communicate and reflect confidence, especially when it is most needed: Not that clothes themselves validate or give confidence, but they can and should reflect an interior confidence. Norden is the Executive Director at Bottomless Closest, a non-profit that “provides professional clothing, shoes, and accessories; resume help and interview preparation; workshops and other resources to women in need.” Without proper interview clothes how can you expect to nail an interview? But, the clothes are just one step in helping Bottomless Closet’s clients see themselves in a new professional position. Bottomless Closet builds on that initial confidence to provide the other necessary training and skills needed, accounting for the needs of the whole person. 


Carla Vázquez Jones, Director of Communication at Delpozo, closed out the afternoon by bringing us back to the top. She has worked at the international level of the fashion industry, with top luxury brands, and shared how the major fashion houses still shape and influence fashion in the workplace. This was a great transition out of the auditorium at FIT and back onto the streets of Manhattan where their influence is seen at nearly every turn. 


Attendees from all over the city, country, and even Canada, left the symposium with a better understanding of why fashion in the workplace matters, plus lots of practical advice. As spring warms up into summer and you change over your wardrobe, it is worth casting a discerning eye over all your various pieces to see how they fit into what you want to communicate and the confidence you feel and project. And, as was repeated many times, it is always ok to ask for help. 


The Future of Fashion Education


The keynote speaker at Murray Hill Institute’s April 28 Fashion Intelligence Symposium was Joanne Arbuckle, Deputy to the President for Industry Partnerships and Collaborative Programs, Fashion Institute of Technology. Joanne gave an engaging account of the future of Fashion Education. She has kindly given us permission to include a shortened version of her talk here on our website. Her talk gave us a chance to step back and look at the big picture of where fashion is today and how the educators of new fashion entrepreneurs are preparing them for the years to come. Joanne began by giving a brief but entertaining walk through history, beginning with prehistoric humans who were making clothing from animal skins, tree bark and leaves, and took us up to the Industrial Revolution, with the onset of clothing manufacturing. 

“With the Industrial Revolution, mass manufacturing was born and fashion as an industry was transformed. By 1850, the US alone had over 4,000 clothing manufacturers. Macy’s opened in NYC in 1858 and soon after, a parade of grand department stores arrived on what was called New York’s Ladies Mile—B. Altman, Arnold Constable, Lord & Taylor. These stores introduced two changes: first, the concept of merchandising, and second, a whole new kind of retail experience for the customer. They became a destination not only for purchasing but also for connecting to fashion. For the affluent female shopper or even the aspiring shopper department stores came to define a way of life, sharing the latest trends. There were weekly fashion shows to anticipate as well as lunch and afternoon tea in elegant settings. By the 1920’s and 30’s, designers and department stores were intimately intertwined and the marketing and promotion of fashion took on a whole new level of importance. Then came World War II. More and more women were entering the workforce, creating a need for simpler, more utilitarian garments and this also provided a unique opportunity for American designers. It also provided a unique opportunity for fashion education.”

At this time FIT was founded by a group of tradesmen, manufacturers, and labor leaders who realized the need for a trade school to educate high school graduates for careers in fashion.

“Collaborative in approach, FIT’s pedagogy blended theory with hands-on practice. Internship programs sent students into nearby plants and studios and faculty were all practicing professionals, as they are to this day. Even though FIT was founded as an advanced trade school, its curriculum included a strong liberal arts component because its founders wanted their future employees to be ‘cultured and enlightened.’ 

FIT’s evolution reflects the evolution and expansion of the fashion industry. Today, FIT offers almost 50 degree programs in fields such as textiles, cosmetics, packaging design, toy design, advertising, home products development, accessories, computer animation, fashion business management, illustration, photography, entrepreneurship, international trade, film and media, fine arts and of course, fashion design. FIT reinvents itself all the time, adapting to changes in the industry. Indeed, by its very nature fashion exemplifies change. And in today’s fashion industry, the change is dramatic. Globalization and the revolution in technology have transformed our world and certainly the world of fashion education.  

For decades, marketing has played a leading role in fashion trends. Then there is street culture: the flower children of the 1960’s…mod…grunge, punk and hip-hop. All of these fads quickly infiltrated the industry and the clothing that we wear not to mention, fashion education.”

Joanne then turned to the revolution in technology, describing ways it has affected aspects of the fashion industry and fashion education. 

“Until the turn of the 21st century, you and I shopped in stores department stores, boutiques, mom and pops or from catalogues. Technology the internet has changed that forever. Not only did the internet provide a front-facing portal for fashion houses to advertise and promote their brands, but the emergence of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat directly connected brands with the consumer. Luxury and mainstream brands have evolved their social media channels to meet the needs of the current consumer. Fashion influencers such as the Blonde Salad, Bryan Boy and Leanne Medine of the Man Repellar begin to make an impact in the way only print publications could in the past. Brick and mortar stores are in such peril today that the recent opening of a Nordstrom’s branch near Columbus Circle is being treated like a supreme act of bravery.

Just as social media has forever changed how fashion engages with customers, all aspects of the fashion industry have been forever changed by the breathtaking, constantly changing tools that technology makes available. Designers, for instance, now regularly engage with tools that provide 3-D images of new designs. They use 3-D animated story boards instead of the old-fashioned real-life models to test fit and movement. They use augmented reality and virtual reality to see the way their bridal gown, for instance, really looks as it glides down the aisle on the bride. These are such important new tools that hiring for positions in virtual reality and augmented reality has skyrocketed by 350 percent since 2012.

Along with technology, there are two other dynamics having a major impact on the fashion industry and with it, fashion education. One is globalization and the other is sustainability.

Today, a designer located in Brooklyn might work for a French brand whose garments are made in Mexico from fabrics developed in India and sold in Asia. And if the designer’s brand is socially responsible as some are starting to be today then every aspect of sustainability comes into play. The public doesn’t necessarily think about the back end of the fashion industry, but today’s designers and others in the industry do and must.  

There is a whole world of fashion professionals who do not work in the studios with those animated story boards, but rather are involved with what we call the “supply chain”—the raw materials, the development of textiles from those raw materials, the factories where the textiles are turned into garments, the distribution network through which the garments are delivered to stores or customers. Each of these are critical steps leading to the clothes that all of us are wearing right now. And again sustainability is an issue every step of the supply chain.”

Joanne described ways that educators are preparing students today to lead the complex fashion industry of tomorrow: first, by shifting to a newer pedagogical model—from teaching to learning.  Rather than focusing on lecturing, the professors strive to create environments and experiences that allow students to discover and construct knowledge for themselves, becoming active participants in their own learning. They also are striving to integrate design thinking into their pedagogy so that, through critical thinking based on logic, empathy, and imagination, the students can better understand customer needs.  

“It is a way of thinking that can be applied in every area of the industry design and business and should be taught in every discipline. While we want our students to develop the skills called for in their majors, we know that fashion design is no longer a siloed vocation. Indeed, the industry has benefitted by partnering designers, engineers and architects, textile and traditional scientists to create the textiles and clothing of tomorrow. As educators, we must introduce more and more interdisciplinary courses into the curriculum and ensure that our students have ample opportunity to work in teams which is a common practice in fashion and collaborate with others across disciplines.”

Joanne concluded by talking about social responsibility.

“Today, when we talk about social responsibility and the fashion industry, we almost automatically think of sustainability. We understand too well fashion’s dire impact on the world’s resources and the urgent need to change the way we make and use our clothes. The synthetics we have all grown to love and to consider a necessity pass through our filtering systems and pollute our oceans. If we continue with a business as usual model, by 2050, the industry will have released over 20 million tons of plastic micro fibers into the ocean. The time has long come for the industry to focus on exploring new materials, pioneering new business design and technology to work to achieve these goals. 

Students today know this. They are passionate about the environment and actively embrace the challenge sustainability presents. Our textile students have developed and nurtured a natural dye garden. Others have created campus-wide compost systems; still others have created a digital bookscan station in the library that has saved hundreds of thousands of pages of paper. In the last few years, teams of FIT students banded together to make shoe leather from organic matter; they used algae to develop yarn which they then knit into a garment. With this growing awareness of the impact of fashion on the environment, I believe that careers never conceived of before will be developed and we want our students to be ready for them.

As passionate as students are today about the environment, we must remember that they are also consumers—fashionistas who are easily overcome by amnesia when they walk into Top Shop or H&M. They want the latest, they want the least expensive and they want it now. So it is also our job as educators to keep them alert to this ethical paradox and to help them navigate its contradictions so we do not end up producing what one educator has called ‘non-reflecting highly competent technicians.’ It is imperative for us to help our students make sense of the world and to galvanize them into becoming caring citizens who can contribute to a productive society. That is why it is important that career-oriented students such as those at design and business schools like FIT be exposed to liberal arts learning: history, economics, literature, science, world affairs. They will be working in a global economy and must learn to be knowledgeable about and sensitive to people and cultures other than their own. It is through the liberal arts they learn to analyze, interpret, synthesize information and communicate. It is through the liberal arts they become critical thinkers. It is through the liberal arts that we broaden their intellectual awareness and prepare them to make informed judgments and choices as citizens, as consumers, and as professionals faced with profoundly important responsibilities, including those we are discussing today.

We send our graduates out into industry hoping that they will leave us as nimble thinkers—able to take advantage of the unknown adventures ahead—hoping too that what they have learned is an appreciation of all they do not yet know, and a lifetime love of learning. Because that is what they will need more than anything to confront the complexities of an ever-changing industry and to identify and contribute to its future.

Women in Music: Celebrating Women Composers

Reported by Alice Trimmer

Over the years, women composers of concert music have been neglected when it comes to the usual means of recognition: concert programming, inclusion in music histories, textbooks, and general scholarly acknowledgements. With very few exceptions, they have been mostly acknowledged in footnotes or causal mentions, as wives or sisters of famous composers who were their husbands (Clara and Robert Schumann) or brothers (Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn).     

In recent decades, more efforts have been made to program works by women composers, partly out of social pressures, and partly because of the outstanding achievements of the composers themselves—for example, the awarding of the 1983 Pulitzer prize to Ellen Taaffe Zwilich for her “Symphony No. 1: Three Movements for Orchestra.” Although substantial gains have been made, the percentage of works by women composers programmed on concerts remains appallingly small, somewhere between 1 and 3%.

This situation is certainly not for lack of superb music, as was demonstrated so forcefully on January 24, 2018 at the “Women in Music” concert, Bruno Walter Auditorium, Lincoln Center.  Murray Hill Institute was honored to support this event, which was initiated by Anna Tonna, mezzo soprano, and Isabel Pérez Dobarro, pianist. Anna and Isabel met at the Música en Compostela Festival (Spain) in the summer of 2015 and created a project which they titled “Women in Music/Mujeres en Música.” The idea behind this project is to showcase works by living women composers, at the same time opening opportunities for discussions and cultural exchanges around the globe. Through support from New York Women Composers, Inc. as well as Asociación de Mujeres en la Música (Spain), two concerts were planned, one which took place in Madrid in the spring of 2017 and the other in New York on January 24, 2018.  

The New York concert had the added collaboration of the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers program and Young Women Social Entrepreneurs. Anna and Isabel were joined by guest artists Nan-Maro Babakhanian, mezzo soprano, and 2Flutes: Pamela Sklar and Laura Falzon. The music spanned a wide range of contemporary compositional styles with works by Alexa Babakhanian, Consuelo Díez, Mary Ann Joyce, Diana Pérez Custodio, Marga Richter, Rosa María Rodríguez Hernández, Pamela Sklar, and Mercedes Zavala. Thanks to the innovative programming of Anna and Isabel, each song and instrumental work on the program was based on the texts of either Shakespeare or Cervantes, thus incorporating a literary connection as an additional point of interest.   

The concert began with two works for flute and piano composed by high school women who have studied composition through the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers (VYC) program. Jon Deak, founder of VYC, explained its inception and goals. The program gives public school students an opportunity to compose their own music. Madeline Schmidt and Cassandra Stevens, the two students whose music was performed that evening, gave brief descriptions of their works. It is clear that the future of women composers is a bright one indeed. 

The audience included guests from the Rosedale Achievement Center, a supplementary educational center in the Bronx that offers academic tutoring, leadership training, and music lessons to young women of middle school and high school age. Murray Hill Institute has been in partnership with Rosedale since MHI’s beginnings, and we were happy that some of the students were able to join us for the evening.

The Women in Music concert had as its theme “A Musical Conversation between the United States and Spain.” The evening brought together many positive themes—achievements of multiple generations, the ties between great literature from the past and contemporary music, and most of all, an opportunity to hear such dynamic and powerful works, all written by women.   

The following video and photos are by Aisha Kamara.

The reception desk

The reception desk

A Rosedale student and her family await the concert.

A Rosedale student and her family await the concert.

Cassandra Stavens (left) and Madeline Schmidt (right), members of the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers program

Cassandra Stavens (left) and Madeline Schmidt (right), members of the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers program

Jon Deak, founder of New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers

Jon Deak, founder of New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers

Pam Sklar and Isabel Pérez Dobarro

Pam Sklar and Isabel Pérez Dobarro

Laura Falzon

Laura Falzon

Anna Tonna

Anna Tonna

Anna Tonna and Isabel Pérez Dobarro

Anna Tonna and Isabel Pérez Dobarro

Isabel Pérez Dobarro

Isabel Pérez Dobarro

Nan-Maro Babakhanian

Nan-Maro Babakhanian

Nan-Maro Babakhanian and Isabel Pérez Dobarro

Nan-Maro Babakhanian and Isabel Pérez Dobarro

The composers and performers take a bow

The composers and performers take a bow

Personal Brand Workshop

Personal Brand Workshop

The 2017-2018 programming season at Murray Hill Institute opened with an inspiring workshop that challenged us to think hard about more effective ways of presenting ourselves in today’s information-laden professional and cultural environments. Our Personal Brand workshop was held at the Global Brands Group headquarters in the Empire State Building on September 13, 2017. The Board of Directors of Murray Hill Institute is most grateful to Deneille Dewar, Vice President of Global Brands Group, for her warm welcome.  

Katharine English, President and Founder of Transformer-in-Chief, LLC, began by introducing the concept of branding in general, then moved on to define personal brands, which by shining the spotlight on one’s unique value, move far beyond the information traditionally found in a resume. As she defined it, “A brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.” Katharine led the participants in a series of interactive activities and worksheets that helped everyone to think of what constitutes their authenticity, vision, unique value, and persona. She also gave some valuable tips on the most effective use of social media. 

Katharine has generously sent us her presentation slides so that those who attended will be able to review the points we discussed, and those who were unable to come can get a glimpse of the ideas and considerations that she presented in order to help each person define themselves as they reach out to new professional opportunities. Click here for the presentation.


MHI 2017 Fashion Intelligence Symposium: Fashion and Social Impact

THANK YOU to all who participated in the recently concluded Fashion Intelligence Symposium, with the theme, Fashion and Social Impact. We were delighted with the turnout, the feedback, and the suggestions for the 2017 symposium. We welcome any additional comments you may have.

Murray Hill Institute is grateful for our on-going collaboration with the Fashion Institute of Technology Center for Continuing and Professional Studies, represented by the managing coordinator, Joan Volpe, and Arthur Dunn, the assistant coordinator, and with Villanueva University, represented by Paloma Diaz-Soloaga. A special thank you to the speakers who shared their vast experience and helpful advice: Jean-Emmanuel Shein, Director, Global Corporate Social Responsibility, UNIQLO USA, Laticha Brown of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Mary Sheehan Warren, Owner of ISYFashion and Adjunct Professor, CUA Business School, Jenny Chen of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Kara Eschbach, Co-Founder, CEO & Editor In Chief, Verily, Alida Boer, founder of MARIA’S Bags, Judi Limbers, Social Entrepreneur and Founder, The Dress Shoppe, Manuela di Prima, founder of Maison Di Prima.

Fashion and Social Impact    
April 29, 2017

Paloma Díaz Soloaga, Complutense University

The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry. Production of raw material, textile manufacture, clothing construction, shipping and finally, retail: besides other contaminants, all those phases mean a big carbon footprint on the environment.

But today we have heard so many professionals who are conscious of this impact and want to make a difference. This has given us a renewed awareness of how important it is to change the way we have been doing things for decades.

As a matter of fact, there are many initiatives around the world that are trying to look at fashion from a different perspective. In particular, many young designers and entrepreneurs are paying attention to all these facts and applying their knowledge to this amazing industry, creating new concepts and business which give priority to not only to what benefits themselves, but also to what helps them make a positive contribution to society.

As Jean-Emmanuel Schein from UNIQLO has said, our mission in this moment of history, is not only to be “nice people” but to understand and apply social responsibility to solve problems. Their vision at UNIQLO is to "make the world a better place through our business." Solving problems, as Laticha Brown explained this morning, has also to do with the way digital technology is solving problems for the consumer (for example, designing slacks with phone chargers built in). On a deeper note, Mary Sheehan Warren pointed how shopping for fewer quality items or vintage clothing—as opposed to fast fashion which has little staying power—can be a smart response to the negative impact that too much fashion consumerism can have on our personal life and happiness. 

This means that we must each try to find new ways of realizing that we are part of a whole and that it is necessary to look at the big picture rather than merely looking out for our own personal interests. This is not only an emotional reaction but also a realization that our actions affect the common good and that we all have a responsibility to work together to make a better world for everyone. 

I want to give thanks to all the speakers for their contributions that made possible the Third Fashion Intelligence Symposium and to the Fashion Institute of Technology and Murray Hill Institute for their efforts in continuing the collaboration of three different institutions with same interests and goals (FIT, MH and Villanueva University): to form students and young professionals and prepare them to become the next generation of leaders in the fashion industry.

And special thanks to Teresa Carale, the President of Murray Hill Institute, since she is the real soul of this wonderful event that has as its main goal to mentor young professionals and encourage them to make a positive impact on the fashion industry. To all of you, many thanks and see you here, next year, at our Fashion Intelligence Symposium 2018!

Women's Leadership Conference 2016

A short video about our November 5, 2016 conference, Reinvention, Retooling, RePurposing: Leading Your Career in a World of Change is now online. 

Thank you to Arko Creative for the filming and production of this video.