Penn State’s New Fashion Society Creates Space For Couture-Crazy Students
Scroll through Penn State’s list of 160 majors and you might not even notice the absence of a fashion program on the list. Surely there are other majors that could help students break into the industry, but the lack of anything even remotely related to clothing and design stuck out like a sore thumb to Megan Mo.
“As well-rounded as Penn State is, there is a lack of opportunities for students to get involved in fashion,” she said. “This university was established in 1855, yet a fashion organization still did not exist. I wanted to fill this void.”
Mo is the founder and president of the Fashion Society of Penn State, which she describes as “a platform to unite all lovers of fashion” in the organization’s mission statement. The club was officially founded in 2014 when she was finishing her freshman year.
Although the Fashion Society of Penn State attracted hundreds of students in its first full year on campus, a small group of 25 active members makes up the society today. Vice President Laura Kerns said that anyone with an interest in fashion has always been encouraged to join.
“All students are welcome to join regardless of their year, major, or level of interest in fashion between wanting to pursue it as a career or just enjoying it as a hobby,” she said. “This should be a given, but guys are of course welcome. We have quite a few!”
Mo, Kerns, and the rest of the society’s executive board spend a lot of time seeking opportunities to bring fashion to Penn State. The club frequently hosts guest speakers and pairs with representatives from different clothing brands and modeling agencies to provide guidance to members. When they feel they can’t bring fashion to Penn State, they go out and find it themselves.
The Fashion Society of Penn State often journeys out into the fashion hubs of the East Coast to give themselves an inside peek at the world of fashion. In the past, the group toured the URBN headquarters, home of Urban Outfitters and Anthropolgie, and most recently took a trip to New York City for this year’s College Fashion Week.
Despite its ventures into the fashion domain, the club’s focus remains in State College. Kerns feels a growing number of students are searching for a chance to learn about fashion in the classroom.
“From what I have seen in my time involved with the Fashion Society of Penn State, there is a large population of students who would love to have a formal education in fashion while attending Penn State,” Kerns said. “I think many more students would choose Penn State if a fashion program was available.”
Ultimately, leading one of Penn State’s premier organization for lovers of couture is a lesson in fashion and professionalism, especially for Mo. She believes that some of the greatest skills she’s learned during her presidency are things she can apply in her future career.
“Fashion is a highly competitive field with students all across the world vying for positions within the industry,” she said. “From our networking events and even just meeting other members, I’ve learned the importance of building rapport and building your own personal brand.”
More than two years after she founded the Fashion Society of Penn State, Mo said she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything and even plans on working in fashion after graduation.
“The Fashion Society of Penn State has definitely helped prepare me for [working in fashion] through meeting industry professionals, listening to their advice on how to develop a career in this field, and staying in contact,” she said. “I put a lot of time and energy into FSPS, but it is such a rewarding experience that I hardly ever notice.”