An Inside Look at Teen Vogue Fashion U

Want to know what to expect at Teen Vogue Fashion U? A student shares her experience at the conference.
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Want to know what to expect at Teen Vogue Fashion U? A student shares her experience at the conference.

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending Teen Vogue Fashion University for a weekend in New York City. This event gave 500 students from around the world an inside look at the fashion industry from those currently at its helm.

Below, I've detailed my day-to-day experience at Fashion U, to give you an inside look at what it's like to attend. I've also listed the most important tips I gained from the mentors I heard speak. Interested to learn more about this program? Read on!

Teen Vogue Fashion U: My Experience

The line-up for this year included Editor in Chief of American Vogue Anna Wintour as the opening speaker, designer Vera Wang as the key note speaker, and seminars featuring designers Rachel Roy, Zac Posen, Richard Chai, Charlotte Ronson, Justin Guinta, Erin Fetherston, Alexis Bittar, Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, models Stacey McKenzie and Ali Michael, president of J. Crew Jenna Lyons, and the editors of Teen Vogue, along with many other fashion leaders.

amy astley and vera wang

Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue Amy Astley and Vera Wang answer questions from students.

The day before the seminars, Teen Vogue hosts a kick-off event to welcome everyone to NYC. This year's event was at Juicy Couture. Everyone was given a wristband to get into the second floor of the store where the party would take place. I loved the discount we received, plus fun things like popcorn and rootbeer floats, pictures in front of the Teen Vogue backdrop, and a free concert by The Downtown Fiction!

zac posen

Zac Posen's birthday was the next day, so he was presented with a birthday cake while we sang Happy Birthday to him!

Saturday was a whirlwind of seminars, filled with the excitement of seeing my fashion idols in person and meeting other students as obsessed with fashion as I am! I was able to attend the seminars of Anna Wintour, Vera Wang, Rachel Roy, Justin Guinta, Jenna Lyons, Zac Posen, and Stacey McKenzie and Ali Michael.

I had to pinch myself when I realized I was in the same room as Anna Wintour, listening to her talk about the start of her career. It was also amazing to attend seminars in the Conde Nast building, where the offices of Teen Vogue and Vogue are housed. You could even sign up for a tour of the Teen Vogue editorial floor and see the fashion closet, but unfortunately they were all full by the time I could register.

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour presenting a sneak preview of the cover of this year's Vogue Best Dressed Issue featuring Blake Lively.

After Vera Wang's keynote speech, there was another shopping event at H&M. This party was also a lot of fun, and included a great discount of course! Sunday morning consisted of a confidence and body image workshop with models Stacey McKenzie and Ali Michael, and then it was time for diplomas and graduation photos. I had such a blast at this whole event, and am definitely going to apply next year. I encourage anyone dreaming of a career in fashion to do the same!

justin guinta

Me and jewelry designer Justin Guinta, the new design director of jewelry for Tory Burch.

Top Five Tips from the Pros:

I could write a book filled with all the tips I learned from the designers over the weekend, but I thought I'd just condense some of the most important words of advice in the list below.

  1. Opportunities are everywhere- don't let anything pass you by! Any chance to learn anything about your industry, no matter how small, could help you out in the future. Vera Wang was working as a salesgirl in Yves Saint Laurent when she was offered a job at Vogue, so even that retail job you had over the summer could have a big payoff!
  2. Have confidence in yourself and your goals. Model Stacey McKenzie told us how she wanted to be a model since she was a child, but was told by many agencies she wasn't pretty enough to be a model. Instead of abandoning her dream, she embraced the qualities that set her apart from other models and eventually landed a job walking for Jean Paul Gaultier in Paris during her first season.
  3. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Working for an established designer helps you learn the basics of the job while providing many networking opportunities. Rachel Roy started as an intern at Rocawear and eventually became Creative Director of the company. Show your employer that you can handle any tasks you are assigned, show up to work with a positive, can-do attitude, be willing to work as many hours as it takes to get the job done, and you will be noticed.
  4. Be unique. In order to be a successful fashion designer, you must have your own point of view that sets you apart from the rest. Embrace your own personal style, and set more trends than you follow. Jewelry designer Justin Guinta was inspired by lighting design and decided to use old buttons and trinkets in his impressive necklaces. Soon, people were flocking to his designs since they were so innovative.
  5. Network. If you want to have a successful career in any industry, it is important to get your foot in the door first. If you are attending Teen Vogue Fashion U, look at each event, too, as a networking opportunity. One Teen Vogue intern I talked to said she got the job from attending Fashion U previously. Don't be afraid to talk to editors, designers, and interns - they will be glad to talk about their jobs, and will be impressed by your initiative!
Ali Michael and Stacey McKenzie

Models Ali Michael and Stacey McKenzie discuss the pressures they face in the modeling industry.

Want to be a member of next year's Teen Vogue Fashion U class?

If you think you'd love to experience Teen Vogue Fashion U for yourself, all you have to do is submit an application! Application forms usually go up on the Fashion U Website in the spring or summer prior to the sessions. You must be between 16 and 22 years old to apply, but they accept students from all over the world!

My application consisted of a few essay questions, a list of my experiences with fashion, some photos and sketches of my work, and what my future goals were for my career. My best tip: Apply as early as you can, as spots will fill up fast (this year about 500 people were accepted). The earlier you apply, the sooner you can RSVP for special events. Check the website and keep an eye out in Teen Vogue for ads for next year's event.

jenna lyons

Jenna Lyons presents a slideshow of J. Crew's past catalogue covers.

Thoughts? Questions?

Have you been to Teen Vogue Fashion U? How did you like it? Thinking about applying next year and have questions about the program? Leave a comment!