11/12/2012 11:34 am ET Updated Jan 12, 2013

Why UPenn Needs a Fashion Program

It took me a couple of years in college to find my passion, but from the moment I found it, my love for the fashion industry has been undeniable. Apart from being such a dynamic industry, what I love about it is that the creative aspect is every bit as important as the business aspect. You cannot expect to have a successful brand without a visionary creative director, as LVMH Fashion president Pierre-Yves Roussel once told me. What better way to nurture those future leaders in the fashion industry than to offer courses and/or a program that will draw that kind of top creative talent to Penn? There is no reason why Penn should miss out on that talent, and the interest is most certainly there. I was fortunate to be presented with the opportunity in one of my management courses at Wharton, taught by Dr. Adam Cobb, to rally people's support around a cause on-campus. My team, consisting of Zuzanna Stepniakowska, Lawrence Yen, Joivonnah Childs, Kirsten Lau and David Goetke, decided to be a voice to those who desire to explore the fashion industry more in-depth at Penn.

We proposed that the University of Pennsylvania look into providing more fashion-focused offerings in order to cater to a more diverse array of interests that center around the business of fashion and design. We realized that Penn's proximity to New York City and its vast financial and academic resources make Penn a prime candidate as an Ivy League university to offer courses in this particular area of study. In fact, Cornell University offers courses that educate students in fiber science and apparel design as well as fashion merchandising. By offering similar courses, Penn will not only benefit current and future students and faculty, but also Penn's reputation as a diverse and progressive institution.

There is currently no program at the University of Pennsylvania that caters to people with an interest in fashion. There is a retail concentration that is offered in Wharton to try and fill the void, but it is a secondary concentration, and does not really cater to a creative education in fashion. As for organizations, DZine2Show and The Walk provide an outlet for people who are interested in fashion, but don't necessarily meets all of the needs to learn about the more technical and creative sides of fashion. Wharton Retail Club also plays a role in educating the student body about certain aspects of retail and fashion. These, however, are not enough.

Penn has always been at the cutting edge in developing programs that enable its students to integrate their different areas of interest. For example, with VIPER, Penn satisfied students' needs when it came to wanting an education in energy research in combination with engineering. Initiatives like these not only draw more students to Penn, but it helps Penn build brand equity as a veritable institution that seeks to be at the forefront of practical learning. The fashion industry continues to evolve immensely, and it would be a pity for Penn students to fall behind during this critical period.

This is much bigger than a course project. It is a matter of helping others realize that there is a population here at Penn, whether current students or future students, who have been ignored and who desire fashion-related course offerings, which have thus far been unavailable. We must consider the fact that Penn is a world-renowned institution, and its shortcomings in fashion offerings are surely something that must be addressed.

If you believe in supporting an education in fashion, please sign our petition.

Thank you for your support.