(Filed Under Fashion News). When creative fashion students enter the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), intimate apparel isn't often their choice niche. But on October 13, Seth Morris, president of Carole Hochman Design Group (CHDG), gave students something to consider: forging head first into a profitable career in intimates.
During his talk in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater (7th Avenue at 27th Street in New York City) Morris explained how his exposure to the intimate apparel industry began at an early age. His family company, Val Mode Lingerie, started in 1937 and by the 1970's Morris' father took over the business. It was then did young Morris experience his "internship" that taught him the in's and out's of business and-as Morris shyly admits-how to sew.
"Small independent companies are more creative," said Morris. "I chose the family owned business path, but it's really about finding your comfort zone. Find the area you feel most comfortable with."
And through CHDG Morris has found his nitche.
Morris explains CHDG, owner of the intimate apparel collection OnGossamer along with several licensed designer collections including Lauren Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Betsey Johnson, Jockey, Esprit, Stan Herman, Lilly Pulitzer, Chaps, and Nine & Company has remained successful since its inception due to "pretty, quality and beautiful detailing," said Morris. "For 78 years, CHDG has figured out how to do things right. CHDG is the design guru of intimates."
As Morris addressed the ambitious students, he also instilled in them the importance of learning from their mistakes. "Failures and mistakes are most instructive, so don't be afraid to make them-just don't make them a second time."
Equally important, Morris added, is being able to move with the changing world. "Years ago, companies would manufacture domestically, but now everyone has moved overseas," says Morris. "And back then there were 126 department stores, now there are 22. But a successful company understands the importance of listening to its customers, looking for intelligent acquisitions, being product and design driven, and having a portfolio of unique brands."
With hopeful wishes to the young FIT students, it is Morris' desire that they will consider the intimate apparel industry as a future career. Thus far, CHDG has paved they way for several FIT students through its successful internship program; last year, CHDG selected 9 interns from FIT, may of which have been offered full time positions. And although the economy may currently be tough, "young graduates are in a great position, because they constantly present fresh, new ideas," said Morris. "And new designers are the lifeblood of CHDG."
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