In this interview with Dr. Alfred Sloan, Jr. he discusses his 1958 arrival at FIT following two years of teaching at Orange County Community College, another SUNY school. He was a veteran of World War II and had spent over ten years working in the fashion industry. Sloan discusses FIT’s first home at the Central High School of Needle Trades and their eventual move to the C building. Sloan lists various founders of the school and their roots on 7th avenue in the garment industry. He describes how the fashion buying and merchandising department has grown over the years thanks to strong industry support. Sloan then mentions Rosalind Snyder and the birth of the liberal arts department at FIT. He applauds the success of FIT’s curriculum and mentions that it has served as a model for other fashion schools across the world. Sloan notes that from the 1940s to the mid-1960s, FIT had a community service requirement for students. He mentions several department Chairs and FIT’s model of requiring professional studies in the first two years in contrast to traditional liberal arts colleges. He lists the courses he teaches and mentions student placement rates. Sloan then discusses the historical success of women at FIT; a characteristic of the school he finds particularly important. Sloan describes the results of an ongoing demographic survey his department asks students to complete and FIT’s international reputation. He finishes the interview with memories of the referendum on FIT’s name in the 1970s and a brief moment of fame on the now defunct FIT baseball team.
This is an interview with David Zeigler who began at FIT’s continuing education division in 1956 following a transfer from the Board of Education. At the time, the school was still based in the Central Needle Trades High School. Zeigler discusses contentions within the English department, the formation of a union in response, and how he came to be elected as the first faculty president of FIT. Zeigler mentions various faculty in his department and emphasizes how deeply he became entrenched in faculty committees due to political forces. Zeigler oversaw the yearbook as well. He then talks about Marvin Feldman and how, coming from West Point, Feldman had to adapt to FIT’s sense of openness. Zeigler discusses the union’s positive impact on the school and what it was like to teach first-generation students, being a proud child of immigrants himself. He then delves into the design of his coursework and how pedagogy has evolved over the years. Zeigler was retired at the time of the interview, but still publishing his own writing as well as taking courses in Yiddish to reconnect with his upbringing. Zeigler returns to a discussion on his challenging time as Chair and what he looked for in faculty. He then talks about liberal arts as key in the development of citizens of a democracy, but notes that some highly successful alumni did not excel in his course. Zeigler discusses the founding of the school and personalities such as Morris Haft who gave the school a familial feel. And finally, Zeigler makes an emphatic statement on the importance of his time teaching at FIT.
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.
Jeannette Jarnow, former Chair of the Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department (FBM), discusses the small and intimate nature of FIT when she joined in 1956. She discusses the founding of the school by Morris Haft, Virginia Pope, and a handful of fashion industry insiders. She then describes the birth of the FBM department thanks to an endowment by Bergdorf Goodman as well as close relationships with Lord & Taylor, Abraham and Strauss, and Bloomingdale's. Jarnow touches on influential people from each department store and then goes into the student demographic make-up of the 1950s. Jarnow describes the changes at FIT over her 38 year career such as the former dress code. She then describes fundraising events and field trips to wholesalers and retailers. Jarnow also remembers famous speakers coming to the school such as Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy. She recalls that Virginia Pope used to take students to the opera and other public events to experience fashion and culture. Jarnow briefly touches on her time as Chair and describes the publication of her book, “Inside the Fashion Business.” Jarnow also emphasizes FIT’s international reach and the vast array of career options alumni have experienced. Finally, she mentions the Oral History of FIT taken by Mildred Finger which was housed in the library.
Vice President of the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries Sidney Bernstein discusses his childhood and educational development in New York City. The launch of his successful real estate career put him in proximity to myriad furriers in the city. Eventually this led him to become more and more involved with the fur industry. He discusses the origins of the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries and its work abroad at the Shenkar School in Israel. Bernstein initially became involved with the Fashion Institute of Technology as a real estate advisor. He describes the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)?s rising reputation within the fashion industry and how the Institute has become an important asset, particularly for textiles. He briefly discusses scouting physical spaces to facilitate the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)?s growth, and then explains how he came to found a scholarship for students there. He talks fondly of Thanksgivings spent with international scholarship recipients at his family home and delves a bit into his personal life. Bernstein then circles back to the fur industry and how, in many ways, it is returning to its roots as a family business. Bernstein was the longest serving member of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)'s Support Foundation. He passed away in 2004.
Articles and interview of Theodore Fred Kuper about the origins of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.), conducted by the Oral History Research Office of Columbia University in 1969. "These reminiscences of Theodore Fred Kuper refer to the creation and development of the Fashion Institute of Technology, a Community College of the City of New York under the program of the University of the State of New York, together with the creation of the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industry. The tape recording of these recollections was started on September 29, 1967 by Lionel White, Fashion Institute, serving as recorder for Columbia University Oral History Office and continued from time to time in California by Mr. Kuper until completion on August 15, 1969." Kuper describes the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)'s roots in the immigrant-run garment industry. He details early leaders in its development, and how, under the leadership of personalities such as Shirley Goodman, they sought support and funding to expand the institution's reputation and place in New York City.
Columbia University Center for Oral History Research