Advice for Fashion Students
“Stick with it. Practice makes perfect. We just had an intern who had no idea how to even begin drawing a fashion figure. Seeing the difference in her skills with some instruction was incredible! I did an internship while I was studying at FIT and it gave me the real-life experience I needed to get my first job.”
When she was 6 years old, Jordan Glasser ’14 would spend hours helping her grandma transform hand-me-down clothes into dress-up costumes.
She never imagined that, one day, she would be making a living turning visions of empire waists and princess seams into one-of-a-kind bridesmaid dresses.
As head designer at Bari Jay Fashions in New York City, Glasser dreams up designs for bridesmaid and flower girl dresses and oversees their creation from start to finish. What begins as a series of sketches ends as a 30-piece collection, available at bridal boutiques nationwide.
One of the most rewarding – and surreal – moments of Glasser’s career so far was wearing her own design – as a bridesmaid in a close friend’s wedding. She was one of six bridesmaids who said yes to the dress, a floor-length, dusty pink, V-neck, off-the-shoulder gown.
Glasser grew up in Albany, NY, and chose SUNY Oneonta for its proximity to home and availability of a wide variety of academic majors, including Fashion and Textiles.
“Going to Oneonta gave me the reassurance that I could pursue fashion or choose something else – it was more of an exploratory time of my life. I knew I had an interest in fashion, but I wanted to be open to other ideas.”
While at Oneonta, Glasser joined the Student Fashion Society and, during her junior year, designed a line of five dresses – black with gold and red accents – for the club’s annual fashion show. With a stacked-up schedule, she finished her core classes and fashion electives and decided to take a theatre class in costume illustration. That’s when she realized, once and for all, that she wanted to pursue a career as a fashion designer.
She applied to the Fashion Institute of Technology through SUNY Oneonta’s 3+1 visiting student program and was thrilled to be accepted. After spending a year honing her evening wear design skills, she graduated in 2014 with both a bachelor’s degree in Fashion and Textiles and an associate’s degree in Fashion Design.
The Road to a Dream Job
After graduation, Glasser tried out four different jobs, including one designing prom dresses and another designing furniture prints for a home décor firm. But none was the perfect fit.
Then, in 2018, Glasser and five friends from FIT had an entrepreneurial idea. What if they could combine fashion with philanthropy by designing a clothing exhibition reflecting the charities that mattered to them? They created a variety of garments, rented a space and planned an event that attracted more than 400 people – and some favorable media attention. “It was really well-received,” Glasser recalls. “It felt really cool to do something with fashion that wasn’t expected.”
A few days later, Glasser got an email from Bari Jay inviting her to apply for the head designer position.
A Day in the Life of a Fashion Designer
A typical day—after commuting from her Harlem apartment to the Bari Jay offices in Yonkers—involves juggling logistics for dresses in production with plans for future lines. Glasser might be sending final prototype measurements to an overseas factory one moment, and researching fashion trends the next.
Each line starts with about 70 sketches, and the transformation from sketch to dress takes more than a year. Glasser sends blueprints to the factory and waits for the first prototype. Then, there’s a back-and-forth process with design adjustments before the first dress is cut and sewn. Each piece in the line is finalized, there’s a photo shoot, and the dresses go to market.
“The most challenging thing is trusting myself,” Glasser says. “You never can be too sure of what is trending or if something is going to work, but you have to believe in it.”