NEW YORK — STUDENTS, very fashionably dressed and representing many nationalities, are racing to and from classes on the campus of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), located on 25th Street and 7th Avenue at one end of the New York City's garment district.
FIT was founded in 1944 to train people to work and manage the garment industry, says Marvin Feldman, president of FIT.
Today it hosts 12,000 students, female and male, and offers 17 different majors.
The institute has campuses abroad in Italy, Japan, and Israel, and is setting one up in Egypt.
FIT trains people for every area in the industry, but the most popular major, says Mr. Feldman, is fashion buying and merchandising.
Next is international marketing. He says he would guess that a full 30 percent of FIT graduates own their own businesses. Calvin Klein, Norma Kamali, and Randy Fezza are FIT graduates.
Feldman says FIT has a Department of Commerce grant for more than $250,000 for developing jobs for Chinese immigrants - like pattern marking, grading, and sewing. FIT also teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for immigrants from China, Greece, Spanish-speaking countries, and others.
The Garment Industry Development Corporation (GIDC) is also very involved in training workers already in the industry. "About 800 people have gone through our training courses so far," says Bruce Herman, president of GIDC.
Currently, five classes are sponsored, including a super-sewers program for sewing machine operators, a sewing machine maintenance and repair course, and a computerized pattern grading and marking course.
One of their most successful programs is the machine maintenance and repair course.
"The average shop size is about 40 people," says Herman, "so we take either the owners or managers and teach them how to troubleshoot their own machinery so they don't have to call in a mechanic."