Fashion Forward

Men take over the ‘runway’ in fashion design class

A new generation of aspiring fashion designers is looking to one day make their mark on the fashion industry. Inspired by the likes of Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger, this year there is an abundance of young men studying Fashion Design and Merchandising.

The young men in Carmen Galiano’s class said they have one simple goal: create their own brand.

Geavanni Escobedo, a junior at New Rochelle High School, said he wants to make clothes that he wants to wear with the hope that others will too.

“I’m thinking, like, street clothes,” he said of what he hopes to create one day. “Maybe tracksuits.”

“I agree, I want to make something I would wear,” said Anthony Orozco, a junior at Harrison High School.

“I’m interested in my own brand,” added David Gonzalez, a junior at Woodlands High School.

Geavanni said his friends were excited for him when he enrolled at Southern Westchester BOCES’ fashion design program and asked if he was going to be a fashion designer. His family, he said, asked why he didn’t go into the trades, like an apprentice to become a plumber.

“I don’t want to work with my hands like that,” he said. “I want to do my own thing.”

While David aspires to one day design his own brand, he said he knew it would be beneficial to learn about the history of fashion too, which is one of the reasons he enrolled.

Anthony’s mother, he said, was thinking he might enroll in auto mechanics or the construction/electrical program.

“But she was supportive,” he said. “She knows I like to look good.”

Malachi Medina, a senior at New Rochelle High School, said his love of fashion began when he was a child and has not waned. He knew about BOCES and said since his freshman year he was waiting to enroll. He initially began in the Graphic Art and Design program as that was creative too, but quickly switched.

“I’ve always loved fashion,” he said, adding he has been creating his clothes for years, taking thrift shop finds and making them his own. The pants he was wearing were hand-painted by him, with images of superheroes. “I think I made the right choice.”

“I’m not going to lie, when I was first getting into fashion friends said ‘oh, but you’re a male,’ a response he did not let bother him, he said.

“I was like, I really enjoy this, I enjoy getting dressed up. When you put on clothes you can change your whole mood. I really like selecting my clothes. It makes my day,” he said.

His family has been supportive. His older brother, who also takes care in how he dresses, Malachi said, was a big influence, as is one of his favorite designers, Jeremy Scott.

Last year one of his favorite projects was when he designed his own pants. He said he put a lot of details into them. 

Like his classmates, he also wants to create his own brand.

“Everywhere I go, people say ‘you can do this, you are good at it,’ I just have to believe in myself,” he said. Malachi is looking to study at SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology or the Pratt Institute. 

White Plains High School junior Sean DuBois knew fashion was exactly where he would end up. He loves putting styles together for himself and one day sees himself working as a stylist so he can do the same for others.

“I think I have a decent style. I’d be an asset to the fashion industry,” Sean said.

His friends told him they could see him working in fashion, and his family was at first curious as to why he would take this course, but when he told them his reasons, they were on board.

“Everyone around me is like, I can see you doing this,” he said.

Sean said he appreciates designers like Louis Vitton and Prada and said he prefers styles that are more on trend. He likes to match his ensembles, for example, wearing brown shoes when he has on a brown shirt.

“The important thing to know about fashion is you don’t have to care what other people say. Just do it,” he said.

Since September students have been learning about style silhouettes, colors and textures. They were looking forward to when they got to use the classroom sewing machines and begin to learn how to actually make an article of clothing.

“I think my favorite so far is drawing our clothes,” Geavonni said of the assignment he likes best so far. He added that he and his classmates all talk to one another about their ideas.

Geavonni said it did feel a little odd for him as a young man to walk into the fashion classroom on the first day of class, having joined a few weeks after school started. He was originally in the culinary program. He said the awkwardness came from not knowing anyone. But now he knows everyone there and he realized they all love to talk about clothing just as much as he does.

“This is a place where you can express yourself,” Geavonni said.

David said he is tuned in to fashion and often reads up on the latest trends. He said KAWS, a street-wear brand, was among his favorites, and he likes Off White.

“They make weird stuff,” he said.

Fashion can change seemingly on a whim, but one constant in the industry is male fashion designers. While women like Chanel and Vera Wang have certainly made their mark throughout history, male designers have been at the forefront, often designing for women.

“Historically they were the business people,” teacher Carmen Galiano said of men in the industry.

The number of young men in her classes has gone up and down. There have been some years, Ms. Galiano said, when she had more male students than females.

“They are just as dedicated, creative and motivated as anyone else,” she said. “When you love fashion, it doesn’t matter.”