ATD Student Gets Backstage Look at New York Fashion Week

India Johnson, Apparel and Textile Design major, recently got to experience two New York Fashion Week (NYFW) runway shows and was given backstage tours as part of a program designed to support innovation and the development of future leaders in the fashion industry.

This one-of-a-kind NYFW experience was made possible thanks to a collaboration between Michigan State University; CLC, the university’s exclusive trademark licensing agency; and the fashion events division of IMG, which manages some of the world’s greatest athletes and fashion icons. Johnson was one of 17 students from nine different universities who participated in the program. 

Over 5 people looking into the camera
India Johnson, third from the left, one of 17 students from 9 universities that participated in the program.

In addition to New York Fashion Week, the students spent time with key staff at sports fashion brand Champion where they customized their own gear. They also participated in an interactive panel hosted by the founders of collegiate jewelry licensee Kyle Cavan. The panel included leadership from collegiate fashion licensee Hillflint; direct-to-consumer brand Suitably; Rent the Runway, which offers online rentable fashion; and the founder of the digital media outlet, College Fashionista.

The students were asked to chronicle their experiences through social media using #UofNYFW and share these experiences with other students upon returning to campus.

India Johnson’s Winning Entry

Johnson was selected for the program based on a contest in which students were asked to create designs that reflect the MSU Spartan brand. 

For the contest, Johnson, who is a member of MSU’s cross country and track teams, choose to showcase her experience as a student-athlete by upcycling and reusing materials to create a sustainable two-piece swimsuit. She used donated tennis shoes from her teammates to create a tube top, while the bottom of the swimsuit was designed to resemble the bottoms that cross country and track athletes wear.  

Two pictures, on the left is a woman with black pants and a gray sweater standing outside and the other is bathing suit on a mannequin
India Johnson at the entrance to New York Fashion Week and her winning entry. 

“I knew that I wanted something that was going to be simple yet powerful,” Johnson said, “so what is better than choosing something that is considered revealing to many people?”  

A successful high school athlete, it was an adjustment for Johnson when she first came to MSU and wasn’t able to run for most of her first year of college. The swimsuit she created represents what she learned from that experience. At the same time, it also includes pieces from her teammates, who helped her with the transition and throughout her college career. 

“I’ve changed and grown so much since I’ve been here,” Johnson said. “I will always be India, but there are different things that I’ve learned about myself since I’ve been here. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be in an art field, but here I am and I love it.”