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More than just a pretty pair of pumps

Company, ValuesPaula Conhain, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

A-list designers, including Gap’s own VP of Women’s Design, Maria Chen, descended on the White House last week in the name of fashion’s future.

First Lady Michelle Obama brought together Washington, D.C.-area high school students and a who’s who of the fashion world to participate in the White House Fashion Education Workshop.

Maria, along with Zac Posen, Jason Wu, Diane Von Furstenburg, plus tastemakers Anna Wintour and Eva Chen and many others, aimed to show students what it takes to succeed in the fashion business.

In Maria’s session, students were able to create their own Gap shirt dress, modeled after one in stores today. They created the pattern and used muslin on dress forms to create the dress, and left the session with a package of everything they’d need to make the dress into other types of garments.

Panelists had plenty of advice – they told students that internships and hands-on experience is critical to beating out the competition for that fashion dream job.

This workshop was the second such event Mrs. Obama has held at the White House as part of her Reach Higher campaign to encourage high school students to attend college.

Last year, college graduates earned $48,000 on average, compared to $25,052 for high school graduates, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Overall, most college grads can expect to make at least 50 percent more than less educated people.

And according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, nearly twice the number of people who have a paid internships receive a job offer compared to those who don’t have an internship.

For nearly 20 years, Gap and Banana Republic have helped students get that experience through a partnership with Parsons The New School of Design. Each year, dozens of students work side-by-side designers from Gap and Banana Republic, helping build their design portfolio and beef up their resumes.

“Fashion is about so much more than just a pretty pair of pumps or the perfect hemline. For so many people across the country, it is a calling, it is a career, and it’s a way they feed their families,” said Mrs. Obama.

Read more about the Fashion Education Workshop in the Washington Post.

And check out this video of Mrs. Obama’s remarks.