Alan Fishman, the son of Shirley Goodman, discusses Goodman’s role in the early days of FIT. Goodman had worked on the World’s Fair with Grover Whalen, and was eventually introduced to the group of successful businessmen who were founding the institute out of the High School of the Needle Trades. Fishman describes his mother’s intense and lasting advocacy for the institute, though she came in without fashion industry experience. Fishman began working in the FIT mail room during his high school years. He recalls putting fliers together to announce that FIT was building a new building with the firm Deyoung & Moskowitz. Fishman then launches into a colorful description of the exchange trade fair with the U.S.S.R. in Moscow. He witnessed the infamous “Kitchen Debate” between Nixon and Krushchev and performed with a host of American models to showcase the American take on fashion. Following that summer, Fishman attended Cornell and graduated in 1966 with two years spent in Italy. He was briefly drafted, but exempted from service in Vietnam due to his family situation. He returned to FIT in 1966 as a part-time faculty member in the Fine Arts Department. Fishman discusses FIT’s international involvements and his placement at the Polimoda school in Florence, Italy for 7 years at the behest of Marvin Feldman. He describes FIT’s demographics in the 1960s and how those have changed in the years since. He then discusses other roles he has held at the school including time spent working with Deyoung & Moskowitz on the development of the FIT campus. He explains the Fine Arts Department’s role at FIT and the founding of the Artisan Space Gallery. Finally, Fishman notes his mother’s involvement with the “Inner Circle,” an elite group of leading women in the fashion industry.
This interview discusses Annette Green's contributions to The Fragrance Foundation. It begins with a discussion on the history of the company, Green's initial introduction and eventual rehabilitation of the foundation, and it's current position in the industry. Green discusses her involvement with starting the Cosmetic and Fragrance Program at FIT.
Gibbs Murray, Chair of the Display and Exhibit Department at the time of this interview, talks about the origins of the program as a double degree in fashion display and photography in the 1960s. He discusses how the Display and Exhibit Department’s singular, comprehensive nature has led to exponential levels of enrollment in recent years, and mentions student exhibitions in conjunction with companies such as Chanel, Patrick Kelly, and Romeo Gigli. Murray details a close relationship with the National Association of Display Industries, and talks about how the advisory council gives valuable feedback to students. He discusses the student body and notable alumni from the program, emphasizing that FIT is uniquely situated for the study of visual merchandising. Murray then mentions industry seminars put on by the department and underscores the value of FIT’s 2-year vocational training. Murray ends the interview with his hopes for an art and design shop at the school.
Annette Piecora joined FIT in 1977 as a clerical assistant under Gladys Marcus and Jean-Ellen Gibson, the chair of the social science department. Piecora would work in both the personnel department and faculty services department before finding a long-term position in the president’s office. Piecora mentions meeting her husband, Professor Steve Harrington of the social services department, through FIT. Piecora worked with Marvin Feldman and Allan Herschfield, and discusses how she began working for the Board of Trustees as assistant secretary of the college. Piecora expresses excitement for recent funding which would allow distance learning and talks of planning an upcoming 50th anniversary holiday party. She then lists many changes at FIT in faculty and student make-up and also mentions how its rapid growth and budget cuts have led to a loss of community in some senses. However, she credits the important work of the union in restoring gain-sharing relationships and holding the college together. Picora describes her work with the Student Faculty Cooperation which determines funding for various arms of Student Life. Finally, she remembers the dedication of the Marvin Feldman Center and goes on to discuss budget cuts and her own work on the union’s executive committee.
Chair of the Marketing Department at the time of this interview, Eve Pollack explains the educational and professional trajectories that led her to a position at FIT in 1978. As her father was a textile converter, Eve found a career in buying haute couture to be a natural fit. She worked in the financial sector as well before being offered an adjunct position teaching a class called “Introduction to the Fashion Business,” at FIT. Pollack discusses the changes she has witnessed in both the student body and the industry itself. She explains her philosophy on the pedagogy of marketing and how Marvin Feldman came to appoint her head of the Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department (FBM). Pollack then discusses linkages to the marketing industry as well as connections with other schools who send her students. As faculty adviser to the Merchandise Management Society, Pollack has set up an affiliation with the American Marketing Association. Each year the association puts on a competition in New Orleans, and Pollack’s students have won several times. Pollack talks about the upper division of FIT’s Marketing Department and how it has come to be recognized as a viable business school. She emphasizes that the future of marketing education is general and addresses all aspects of the industry. Pollack mentions a close relationship with John Pomerantz, who was on the board at the time, and talks about utilizing professional connections to find exemplary adjunct professors. Finally, she discusses the state of marketing in fashion as international sourcing increases and closes with a run down of her current faculty and students.
Chair of the Manufacturing and Management Department at the time of this interview, Saul Smilowitz discusses his life at FIT. He began as a student, graduating in 1953, and returned to teach in 1965 and again in 1989 after a brief hiatus. He talks about FIT’s dress code in the 1950s and how the student body has evolved over the years. Smilowitz discusses the department’s difficulty in recruiting for middle management positions in the industry. He describes their upcoming evaluation by the American Apparel Manufacturers Association; only four colleges have been accepted by the AAMA, FIT being one of them. Smilowitz talks about how they train students for the manufacturing industry and how emphasis on swift, mass production has intensified. He mentions the various degree levels offered in his department, and their move from a factory-oriented focus to a liaison-oriented focus. Graduates of the department have high placement rates and have ended up in major manufacturers such as Liz Claiborne, Nike, and Anne Klein. He talks about how alumni come back to check in at premier industry seminars and events such as the Bobbin Show. Smilowitz then discusses ethnic changes at FIT and how many international students return home with a coveted degree. He details remedial and bridge classes that allow students to matriculate to the upper division, and then talks about how active faculty involvement and continuous evaluation of course offerings keep the department current. Smilowitz goes on to discuss issues in the industry such as sweatshops and how they educate their students on OSHA to avoid such abuses. He then talks about union support and the scholarships offered by the AAMA to FIT students. Finally, he expresses pride in the department’s ability to offer real world experience to students during their time at FIT.
Peter Scotese, the Chair of the board of trustees at FIT, joined in 1970. He discusses his appointment to the Board of Education and his advantageous textile manufacturing experience as the CEO of Spring Industries. Scotese lists board members he worked with at the start and later notes how the board has increased its reach. He describes the on-going support that the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries provides FIT and touts the unique offerings of the school such as the Shirley Goodman Resource Center. Scotese also mentions industry support and the ways in which adjunct professors provide a contemporary vocational education to the students at FIT. He then discusses various departments and how their growth is shaped by the industry. To illustrate, he mentions Andrew Goodman and the founding of the buying and merchandising department. Scotese says that the fur industry is pushing FIT to build a program, and that he sees quite a lot of opportunity in the emergence of home fashions. Finally, Scotese explains his Horatio Alger award and pays homage to successful designers such as Emilio Pucci, Nicole Miller, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein.
Elaine Stone, a professor in the Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department (FBM) at the time of this interview, also served as the coordinator of the Small Business Center and the director of the Center for Global Enterprise. She talks about her first encounters with FIT students while working at various department stores during the holiday season and her invitation to speak at the school. She was immediately taken with FIT and began teaching in 1975 after meeting Newt Godnick of the FBM department while they were buying for major department stores. She discusses the challenges of teaching and describes the close-knit nature of faculty/student relationships at FIT. She worked closely with the Taiwan Textile Federation while at FIT; and her deep international experience led her to help found FIT-affiliated programs such as the National Institute for Fashion Technology in India, Caricom in the Caribbean, Polimoda in Italy, and Shenkar College in Israel. She discusses the founding of the Small Business Center thanks to a faculty retreat put on by Marvin Feldman. With the support of Jeannette Jarnow, the FBM did a survey of alumni and found that 85% owned their own businesses, meaning there was a large gap in the department’s curriculum. What began with a class in business management became a huge cross-department program with federal grants supporting initiatives such as the Women Business Owner’s Association and the Export Assistance Service Extension. Stone describes how the center has also allowed for students to attain international internship experience and discusses linkages with national economic development associations. Stone penned three books during her time at FIT: Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Buying, and Exporting and Importing Fashion. She says a little more about her professional background and then finishes the interview with a ringing endorsement of FIT and her hopes for its future.
Richard Streiter wore many hats at FIT, but at the time of this interview he was the executive director of the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries. Streiter joined FIT from Pratt Institute as Dean of Students in 1973. He discusses his recruitment by Marvin Feldman and his immediate push for the creation of a comprehensive primary care health service at the school. Streiter fondly remembers the raucous four-year stint of Mardi Gras costume balls held in concert with other art schools as well as FIT’s own talent show. He performed a surprising jazz trumpet set his first year and ended up in the 1976 yearbook for “streaking” at that year’s show. Streiter explains the legislative struggles involved in getting the upper divisions established and commends Feldman for championing FIT’s two-year program. He then talks about how the globalization of the fashion industry is reflected in FIT’s vibrant student body. Streiter discusses the development of Polimoda in Italy and his own move to New Delhi to help establish the National Institute of Fashion Technology. It was a struggle, but Streiter had support from an advisory group in New York and fought for the school’s survival. Upon his return, Streiter held a series of leadership roles at FIT and ultimately became acting director of both the Educational Foundation and the Shirley Goodman Resource Center. He mentions early FIT exhibitions such as the retrospective on Charles James. He then discusses the structure and evolution of the Educational Foundation. Streiter ends the interview with a depiction of an FIT tour through China which he led.
Web Boodey and Audrey Meyer discuss their time with the Social Science Department. Boodey was a world affairs professor and Meyer a professor of sociology who, though retired, still taught as an adjunct at the time of the interview. They talk about the dress code upheld by Marion Brandriss in the 1960s as well as FIT’s former requirement of 30 hours of mandatory volunteer work. They discuss when FIT’s faculty shared a large office, each with their own cubicle, and the beginnings of the school's union. They talk extensively about the social justice movements of the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the aftermath of the Kent State Massacre. They mention the formation of the Soul Club and the Black Student Club, which published a paper called “Black Rap.” They also discuss the formation of an ad hoc committee on race which advocated for more faculty of color. Boodey and Meyer talk about the affective education movement and the growth of their department. In 1971 Meyer put on a one-day conference called “Dialogue on Women,” which brought in myriad activists including Florynce Kennedy and Bella Abzug. Boodey discusses his time as the chair of the faculty association. The two remember Marvin Feldman and Gladys Marcus fondly, and then discuss other professors in their department when it was coupled with Art History. They touch on linkages with the United Nations as well as student trips, including one to Riker’s Island. They have invited formerly incarcerated people to speak to their students and frequently host lectures on human rights. The two also talk about the growth of environmental activism and clubs in the 1970s.
This is an interview with three professors of the patternmaking department at FIT: Christine Pupillo, Leonard Trattner, and Harry Greenberg. At the time of the interview, Trattner was chair of the department. Greenberg started at FIT in 1947 and describes an incident that occurred during the Board of Education’s two-day exam, which was a prerequisite to patternmaking instruction. The three delve into FIT’s uniquely specialized program wherein students learn to make slopers. Trattner, a 9th generation textile worker, started as an FIT student in 1964. He discusses his upbringing and life-long connection to the garment industry. They talk about what the union has done for the industry at large and innovations of their department, including classes taught in foreign languages for international students. The three discuss the department’s highly successful VFI program which brings in students who have dropped out of high school or had minor encounters with law enforcement. Greenberg and Pupillo describe their experiences as first-generation immigrants, how that experience often relates to their students, and their own very early starts in the garment industry. As most faculty do, they remain involved in the industry to stay abreast of technological advancements. Greenberg talks about meeting his wife and how he came to be recruited for his initial position. The three discuss the minutiae of patternmaking and the skills their students take to the field. They then talk about changes in student demographics and their hopes for an upper division. Finally, they discuss the Irving Curtis Scholarship Fund and the Harry Greenberg Scholarship Fund, as well as the scholarship provided by Symphony Fabrics.
Edith Sancroft, professor of health and physical education at the time of this interview, and former Dean of Liberal Arts, joined FIT in 1964. She immediately began a large expansion of the school's dance program and talks about the introduction of an intermediate level of dance for her more advanced students. Sancroft sees choreography and dance as a natural partner to fashion design; her students benefit from the knowledge that body movement has to offer. She pays homage to the 1960s as a period of great growth for FIT. With the formation of the union and the presence of the Civil Rights Movement, the curriculum offerings at FIT grew in variety and scale. During this period, she was also able to offer master classes in dance with guests such as Syvilla Fort, Charles Wiedman, and Mary Anthony. Sancroft talks about how her department has changed and its eventual separation from the Math and Science Department. She also discusses the growth in diversity within the student body. Sancroft laments the loss of intimacy at FIT and remembers its former familial nature. That being said, she gives a lot of credit to faculty members such as Mildred [last name unknown] who wrote a series of grants to support the creation of the educational skills program, an invaluable part of FIT’s curriculum.
This is an interview with four executive members of the Union of United College Employees (UCE) at FIT: Joseph Garofalo, Judy Wood, Juliette Romano, and Arthur Levinson. The four begin by explaining their backgrounds and initial involvement with FIT in the 1960s and 1970s. They discuss how difficult it was to get promotions under the administration of Lawrence Bethel, and how the union had to fight for many rights such as faculty status for “non-classroom faculty.” They also discuss the crowded state of the FIT offices before 1976 and the steadying role the union played in such chaos. The four then describe their connections to the NYC labor movement and close relationships with the Central Labor Council and the Municipal Labor Coalition. State and federal connections also played an important role, and Judy Wood describes her active political involvement with councilman Ed Sullivan. The group then mentions their parent organization, the AFL-CIO, and further union connections with the United Federation of Teachers. They take a moment to remember a strike at Radio City Music Hall, and how they convinced a union to pause the strike to facilitate an FIT graduation, kick-starting a long friendship. The group pays homage to Marvin Feldman, an FIT president they found especially supportive. They mention an upcoming negotiation and go one to detail how union negotiations with the school and city work. Finally, the four describe the union’s relationship to students and the creation of the George Levinson Scholarship Fund in fond memory of his legacy.
Dean Emeritus at the Department of Business and Technology at the time of this interview, Jack Rittenberg discusses his many roles while at FIT between the years of 1963 and 1992. He talks of the development of degrees within the baccalaureate program such as those in advertising and menswear, the latter being a degree that Rittenberg co-developed with Ted Roberts. He talks extensively about the school’s early existence in the C Building and the growth of the physical campus as FIT became more than a commuter school. Rittenberg remembers the building of the library and how space for the clothing collection allowed them to split from a storage arrangement with the Brooklyn Museum. Formerly a buyer for Bond Stores, Rittenberg has enjoyed showing FIT’s collections off to friends and visitors. Though Rittenberg was retired at the time of the interview, he was still teaching a spring merchandising course as well as industry seminars. He talks about strong relationships with alumni of the school and how retirement has allowed him to keep in touch with many of them through travel. Rittenberg talks about the faculty tendency to continue to work in the Industry so as to remain current. He also discusses the uniquely driven nature of the FIT student body. Rittenberg then goes into detail about the liberal arts program and gives a deep history of the founding and development of FIT from its roots as the Central High School of Needle Trades. He briefly discusses international students and changing demographics of the school and then launches into a discussion of the evolution of attitudes within the industry in regards to race and sex. The interview ends with a brief discussion of the decline of the fur industry.
Coordinator for the Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing Program at the time of this interview, Peg Smith joined FIT as a part-time professor in the Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department (FBM) in 1977. She came with a background in buying and merchandising for large companies such as Bloomingdale’s. Smith came on full-time in 1981 and, in 1988, was offered chairmanship of the burgeoning 4-year Bachelor of Science degree in Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing. She discusses the history of the program. Dean Jack Rittenberg asked Hazel Bishop to found the program and she formulated the original curriculum which was primarily science-based. Smith details close working relationships with the Industry that have helped the program thrive, especially thanks to the efforts of Annette Green, who formed the Action Council for their department. Smith talks about the benefits of their mentorship program, which was the first at the college. She discusses various funding sources such as a luncheon during Fragrance Week wherein they netted $90,000 in scholarship money for their students in 1994. She also discusses the industry support that has allowed for the Gladys Marcus Library to purchase relevant materials as well as the funding brought in by the Action Council to build the Annette Green Fragrance Foundation Studio in 1994. She talks about changes in the curriculum over time and how she remains connected to the Industry to stay current. The department had recently added a fine arts course, a social science elective, and now requires French. Smith is hoping the department will be removed from their larger marketing umbrella so that they can continue their growth. Smith states that their industry has always been globally-minded, given that essential oils are sourced from all over the world. Each year they take their students on a summer study in the United Kingdom and France. Smith details their site visits at Estee Lauder, Revlon, Givenchy, Hermes, and L'Oreal as well as visits to family-owned essential oil houses in the south of France. Thanks to further grants, most of their students are able to go on this trip. Smith then talks about the demographics of her students and alumni placement. Finally, she discusses changes in the industry and the cosmetic industry’s need to diversify their market.
In this interview, FIT professor, Jeff Buchman, talks about how he came to work at FIT. He then discusses the successes students in the advertising and communications department have experienced, such as their high employability and their scholarly and extracurricular activities. He also discusses emerging technology with a focus on videography; and how it relates to advertising, marketing, and communications.
This is an interview with Doctors Joe Costelli and Barry Ginsberg of FIT. Costelli was the chair of the math and science department at the time of the interview and Ginsberg a retired professor emeritus. Ginsberg begins by describing his start at the institute in 1956 under former Department Chair Bill Leider. At the time there were approximately 20 faculty members and 200 students. He describes the tight-knit quality of FIT and weekend trips to the Hotel Grossinger. In tandem with his work as a math teacher, Ginsberg worked as the director of admissions alongside Marion Brandriss. He explains various internal leadership posts such as his time as the department chair and his time with the faculty committee. He goes on to detail the creation of rudimentary, and ultimately mandatory, arithmetic classes for pupils based on the prompting of Jeannette Jarnow. He then explains the selection process by committee of President Jarvie and his return to teaching, his “first love.” Costelli takes over the interview and describes his educational background in biology and subsequent start at FIT in 1975. Costelli explains the heavy involvement of the math and science department in the running of the school. He goes on to describe the middle states review and the writing of his textbook, Introductory Biology and Molecular Approach. He details the lineages of FIT’s liberal arts deans as well as the chairs of his department, and how the institute used industry input to evolve its coursework. Costelli remembers FIT being run as a tight ship with a hard-line dress code and also recalls the institute’s struggle to procure air conditioning from New York state. Finally, Costelli describes how the demographics of the school have changed and how they move ever deeper into computer-centered learning.
Newton Everett Godnick, 18 year Chair of the Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department (FBM) at the time of this interview, discusses his introduction to the school and its close-knit nature. He describes the 1965 groundbreaking for new buildings and various delays in their construction. He goes on to comment on how the student body and departments have evolved over the years in positive and negative ways. He mentions FIT’s former dress code and then goes into the history of the buying and merchandising department. He describes the development of the four year program and effects of the 1970s recession. Godnick then details close relationships with the industry, distinguished alumni, and how the Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department (FBM) Industry Advisory Board has affected his department’s curriculum. He discusses the social unrest of the 1960s and 1970s and how FIT changed over those years. Finally, he discusses the formation of the UCE Union and its positive effect on FIT’s standard of education.
Ellen Goldstein, the Chair of the Accessories Design and Millinery Department, started with FIT’s Fashion Design Department as a part-time instructor. In 1981, the school received a federal grant for industries affected by imports and was able to start an accessories department. With additional support from the industry, the department has taken off. Goldstein explains her beginnings as a tapestry weaver and how she got into handbag design. She then describes the demographics of her department’s diverse student body. She discusses how both the 1-year and 2-year program are feeding the accessories industry and how FIT’s millinery program has revitalized an industry thought to be dead.
Jean Ellen Giblin, the Vice President of Academic Affairs at the time of this interview, explains how she came to FIT as an economics professor in 1970. She was later Chair of the Social Science Department as well as the curriculum committee. After a time, she was asked to work on the development of the new upper division program which had a marketing option in international trade. She talks fondly of that creative work and how it led her to become the acting Dean of the Business and Technology Department, and ultimately led to her role at the time of the interview. Giblin reflects on the intimate nature of FIT when she joined and how that has evolved due to the growth of the school and its development of a 4-year program. Industry pushed for the creation of a 4-year program, though FIT maintained an upside-down approach to education wherein specialties were taught before general liberal arts. Giblin discusses FIT’s approval by the Board of Education and SUNY, and then talks about the support provided by the Educational Foundation. She talks about how industry advisory boards keep each program relevant, and then launches into a discussion about FIT’s international and domestic student body and how it has evolved through the years. FIT has also evolved its own programs to serve a wider array of industries in the city. Giblin praises the wide-ranging work of unions at FIT. She then discusses statutory campuses and FIT’s graduate program launched by Bob Gutman. Finally, she talks about the inherent creativity of the faculty and discusses the future of the school.