January 20, 2011

John Sohn ’11 Awarded $25K Fashion Grant

Print More

John Sohn ’11 won $25,000 for designing a unisex fashion line as part of the prestigious Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund on Jan. 11. The fashion line travels in a clothing truck to cities throughout the United States.

Sohn, an apparel design major in the College of Human Ecology, researched and developed the mobile fashion line, GYP-C — pronounced “gypsy.”

The clothing line entails a distinctive contemporary look, one that can be worn by both genders. According to Sohn’s scholarship application, GYP-C “aims to democratize notions of clothing by standardizing gender and sizing, inviting people to mix and match styles freely beyond their typical fashion boundaries.”

GYP-C also involves a clothing truck that would — if the idea attracts enough investors — travel to towns without a significant fashion presence The fashion line would use social networking sites to spread word of its presence and location. The strategy requires less capital than renting a long-term retail space.

“The bus goes to cool small cities that don’t have that much strong of a fashion presence, like Charleston or Portland,” Sohn said. “My concept was to set up shop in those cool towns that don’t have the exposure to this brand that would normally be seen in New York.”

Prof. Anita Racine and Prof. Van Dyk Lewis, fiber science and apparel design, nominated Sohn for the competitive scholarship. More than 30 universities participate in the Geoffrey Beene scholarship. Sohn traveled to New York for final interviews after reaching the top eight semi-finalists.

“It was a really competitive process,” Sohn said. “We had six weeks to prepare a PowerPoint presentation and a Q and A … It was a 20 minute business pitch.”

During the interview, Sohn wore clothes from his fashion line and answered questions from fashion industry veterans.

“That was really tough and there was a lot of information I had to leave out from my case study,” he said.

Judges from the fashion industry announced the scholarship winners at an annual fundraising banquet at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, Racine said. With more than 1,500 fashion executives and leaders in attendance, four finalists won the $25,000 scholarship.

“The goal of this scholarship is for fashion industry giants to identify and recruit the ‘best-of-the-best’ young talent into the field,” she said.

Racine elaborated as to Sohn’s aptitude. “John is a student who lives and breathes fashion, intent on learning and experimenting with new design concepts.”

According to his website, Sohn has interned at an number of New York fashion houses. His past awards include the Barbara L. Kuhlman Fiber Arts Scholarship in 2009, the Fashion Scholarship Fund in 2009 and 2010 and a finalist at the Arts of Fashion Competition in 2010.

Sohn said he plans to work in the fashion industry, rather than start his own company, after graduation.

“I’m not ready to be an entrepreneur yet,” he said. “I’m not sure if I’m ready to set this up.”

Original Author: Max Schindler