For Jinnie Kang, a member of the Class of 2012, her journey into the world of fashion design started with her not being able to find a nice dress for her eighth-grade dance.
“I remember not finding anything that I really liked,” Kang said.
That was the linchpin that set Kang on a path she’s been on ever since.
Kang is one of only a few hundred people to be accepted into the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
The institute is not for the faint of heart, something Kang already knows. She has taken courses there in the summer. Unlike most of her friends who took the summer off, Kang was often awake until four in the morning completing assignments as part of condensed curriculum designed for high school students.
“She has never stopped trying to learn,” said Laura Folenta, Kang’s fashion design teacher.
Laura Folenta has taught fashion design for seven years at Valley. She said Kang is one of only three students she has recommended pursue admission to FIT.
“The process isn’t for everyone,” Folenta said. “You have to be able to envision something that someone would want to wear and that requires a lot of creativity. You have to envision and create something that is different than everything that is already out there. Nobody wants boring in the fashion world.”
There are a lot of factors to consider when designing a new piece of clothing or an entire new line of shirts, sweaters, or nightwear. Things like color and button placement are some of the obvious ones, Folenta said.
But Kang is looking at things like thread width and other details that regular shoppers might not even consider when choosing what article of clothing to purchase. Different materials feel different on the body and to the touch.
“It comes down to the small things, they are what matter,” Kang said. “When I look at a garment or two garments that look the same, I want to turn them inside out. You’ve got to know the technical side of this business if you want to succeed. People want to buy the thing that looks clean, but that also looks nice.”
As a kind of final project, Kang did something to finish out her high school fashion career on a high note: She designed her own prom dress. The hand stitching alone took her 40 hours to complete.
Folenta said Kang has a bright future ahead of her if she keeps working as hard as she has been.
“A designer can be very creative, but if someone doesn’t want to buy what you make, you’re going to be the most creative unemployed designer out there,” Folenta said. “Or, you could have all the motivation you want but just not have the skill. [Kang] has both the skill and the drive. That’s what makes her so special.”