As a kid, I always wanted to learn how to sew. I would stand over my mom as she whipped up tank dresses on my grandmothers singer. Eventually I was introduced to a glue gun and learned how to baste from countless hours of Girl Scouts and watching PBS. There are millions of kids in around the world who dream of being a fashion designer and creating their own clothing and accessories. In New York City, The Fashion Class is a stand out amongst the many sewing schools or workshops; It’s the only company that caters mainly to children. I describe it as a Fashion University or F.I.T for tots ages 2-18. Youngsters are able to take a variety of fashion focused classes like Lil Gal Designs for (toddlers only), Fashion illustration, Fashion Design & Sewing, Accessory Design, Menswear and Eco-Friendly Fashionistas. At the end of each semester the students appear in a full fashion show. It’s a professional production complete with lighting and a kid-sized runway!
I had the opportunity to chat with Kerri Quigley the mastermind behind The Fashion Class. She described why she started The Fashion Class and what makes the company unique.
Kerri, native Brooklynite, attended Parson School of Design and majored in Business with a fashion minor. Coincidentally, we learned that we attended high school together. The High School for Leadership & Public Service shared the building with The High School for Fashion Industries after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. During college Kerri, operated a successful small women wear line and decided to move production overseas. Unfortunately, samples and finished garments weren’t constructed correctly and she decided to close the business. Kerri began freelancing and also had the opportunity to teach fashion design at a private school in New York City. She designed her own curriculum and developed a fun and educational course. When summer came, Kerri saw how popular the class was and made the decision to rent a space in Brooklyn to host Saturday classes that mimic her previous classwork.
The class filled rapidly and she began to hire staff and expand in Brooklyn as well as Manhattan. The Fashion Class has a full staff that is comprised of educators, artists and freelance designers.
Some of her favorite lesson plans are the tote & handbags, it is a simple sewing lesson but decoration and design play a big part. “This basic project becomes extra ordinary when students put their individual style stamp on their bags.” Other cool lessons are Mini top hats out of duct tape and trendy Sherpa Vests. Kerri says one of the most memorable moments at The Fashion class was in December 2012, during the last Fashion art & design class of the semester. Legendary designer Betsey Johnson came to the Manhattan studio to see her granddaughter who was enrolled in the course. “She was very nice and invited the girls to come see her studio!”
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