FIT 75th Anniversary Celebrating unconventional minds
FIT 75th Anniversary Celebrating unconventional minds

1940s

Dr. Mortimer C. Ritter, Max Meyer, and other Garment District leaders are granted a charter to develop a technical institute for the New York apparel industry.

1944

Students working in the High School of Needle Trades location.

Before it had its own building, FIT was located in the Central High School of Needle Trades.

1944

Evening division opens.

1946

FIT’s first commencement is held, with 65 graduates.

1946

Class of January–June 1947

1947

The State University of New York (SUNY) system is established. Community colleges within the university are authorized.

1948

Shirley Goodman joins FIT, leading Public and Industrial Relations and Development. A driving force behind FIT’s evolution, Goodman helped draft legislation to establish the college as part of SUNY.

Pictured: Goodman hosting a tea for students.

1949

1950s

FIT’s first research project, Seams and Pressing Qualities of Five New Synthetic Fabrics, is initiated.

1950

Student work, circa 1950.

1950

An early student fashion show.

1950

FIT’s original 10 faculty members, with college administrators, c. 1951.

1951

FIT becomes SUNY’s second community college, with 400 day and 1,000 evening students. Dr. Mortimer Ritter serves as president.

1951

Lawrence L. Bethel is appointed president.

1953

FIT Alumni Association is founded.

1953

FIT is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

1957

Ground is broken for FIT’s first building.

1958

FIT’s first building opens. The auditorium is named for cloak and suit manufacturer Morris W. Haft and his wife, Fannie.

1958

Ad from Alcoa touts FIT’s use of the company’s aluminum building exteriors.

1958

Students set up model sewing machines in a course on manufacturing plant layout.

1958

1960s

Student fashion show from the 1960s.

1960

Mayor Robert Wagner joins Shirley Goodman and Morris W. Haft at an FIT fundraising gala.

1960

Famous fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez was FIT’s yearbook editor in 1962.

1962

FIT’s first residence hall, named for Isidore Nagler, vice president of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, opens.

1962

FIT establishes technical assistance program with Shenkar College, Israel.

1964

Knitting Lab, early 1960s.

1964

1964 yearbook.

1964

Lawrence L. Jarvie is appointed FIT’s third president.

1966

Students take a cigarette break in a stairwell.

1967

The Brooklyn Museum’s Costume and Textile Collections (Edward C. Blum Design Laboratory) are loaned to FIT to support its programs and the fashion industry. The Design Lab will be the foundation of The Museum at FIT.

1969

Students and faculty protest the Vietnam War, Oct. 15, 1969.

1969

Mayor John Lindsay and David Dubinsky attend the groundbreaking for four new buildings, including the Dubinsky Student Center.

1969

FIT under construction.

1969

Groundbreaking is held for four new buildings.

1969

1970s

An early ’70s marketing image communicating the college’s range of majors.

1970

Marvin Feldman is appointed FIT’s fourth president.

1971

FIT Alumni Stephen Burrows and Calvin Klein share the Coty Award for Womenswear. Burrows is the first black designer to win a Coty.

1973

1974–1983: Notables sharing their expertise, insights, and wisdom with the FIT community through on-campus visits and by opening their studios and offices to students.

1974

David Dubinsky Student Center opens.

1975

Vogue declares the work of FIT alumnus Calvin Klein “a definitive picture of the American look.”

1975

FIT is authorized to grant bachelor’s degrees.

Pictured: Pen used by Governor Hugh Carey on July 1, 1975, to sign the New York Assembly bill authorizing FIT to issue bachelor’s degrees.

1975

Business and Liberal Arts Center opens.

1976

FIT Alumna Janelle Commissiong, from Trinidad and Tobago, is named first black Miss Universe.

1977

AAS program in Cosmetics, Fragrance, and Toiletries is endowed by Revlon; Hazel Bishop, chemist and inventor of “kiss-proof” lipstick, is chair.

1978

Portfolio Yearbook, 1978.

1978

FIT hosts a tribute to black designers, including Jeffrey Banks and Jay Jaxon.

1979

1980s

Mildred Custin, president of Bonwit Teller, with Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, and Pauline Trigère.

1981

The Computer Graphics Lab opens.

Pictured: Professor Elaine Stone giving instruction.

1982

New York Is Fashion event, with President Marvin Feldman and designers Bill Blass, Donna Karan, and alumnus Calvin Klein.

1982

The Design/Research Lighting Laboratory opens.

1983

FIT turns 40.

1984

The School of Art and Design is accredited.

1984

1985–1999: Notables sharing their expertise, insights, and wisdom with the FIT community through on-campus visits and by opening their studios and offices to students.

1985

The Art and Design Center is named for Fred P. Pomerantz, founder of the Leslie Fay Company.

1986

Affiliation with Politecnico Internazionale della Moda in Florence, Italy, is established.

1986

FIT helps to establish the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, India.

1987

Alumni Hall opens.

1988

Toy Design students modelmaking.

1989

FIT establishes the world’s first BFA in Toy Design.

1989

1990s

FIT’s stellar yearbook, Portfolio.

1990

Geoffrey Beene serves as critic for the student fashion show.

1991

Peter G. Scotese Computer-Aided Design and Communications Lab, named for longtime FIT trustee and former chairman and CEO of Springs Industries, opens.

1992

Allan F. Hershfield becomes FIT’s fifth president.

1992

Administration and Technology Center is named for Marvin Feldman, FIT president from 1971 to 1992.

1992

The Museum at FIT is established.

1993

Dance Theatre of Harlem performs on campus.

1993

Tickle Me Elmo, designed by Amanda Friedman, Toy Design ’91, is released by Tyco Preschool.

1996

President Brown cuts ribbon to the open the new computer lab.

1998

Dr. Joyce F. Brown is appointed FIT’s sixth president—the first woman and first African American to hold that office.

1998

Dr. Joyce F. Brown with Brooke Astor at women’s history event.

1999

Bob Mackie with Carol Burnett at The Museum at FIT’s show of the designer’s work, “Unmistakably Mackie.”

1999

2000s

FIT assists in establishing a fashion college, Zhejiang Institute of Fashion Technology, in China.

2000

President Brown announces unprecedented five-year, $21.3 million investment plan to address initiatives identified through FIT’s first strategic planning process.

2000

Jay and Patty Baker donate $10 million, FIT’s largest gift.

2001

Tiffany & Co. endows Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry Design.

2001

Alumnus Ralph Rucci is the first American designer in more than 60 years invited by the Chambre Syndicale De La Haute Couture to show in Paris.

Pictured:  Dr. Brown, Ralph Rucci and museum director Valerie Steele at the opening of “Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness” in 2007.

2002

FIT receives $1 million bequest from Bill Blass.

2002

Arnold Scaasi with first lady Laura Bush and Dr. Joyce F. Brown at the “Scaasi: Exuberant Fashion” exhibition at MFIT.

2002

FIT collaborates with Thai Garment Manufacturers Association to establish fashion school in Bangkok.

2003

Groundbreaking for dining hall.

2004

FIT’s first liberal arts degree program, in Visual Art Management (now Art History and Museum Professions), is launched.

2005

The women’s tennis team wins NJAA Region XV Championship five times in five years.

2005

George S. And Mariana Kaufman Hall, FIT’s fourth and largest student residence, opens.

2006

FIT and Politecnico di Milano partner to launch a Fashion Design BFA, offering one year of study in Milan.

2007

The college holds its first Sustainable Business and Design Conference.

At the heart of FIT’s mission is a commitment to sustainability and innovation. These two ideals are reflected in our academic programs, our physical environment, and our campus culture. Our faculty and students working together embrace innovative materials and invent alternative methodologies to make the world better for generations to come.

Pictured: Aveda Global General Manager Barbara De Laere is joined by brand partners and sustainability leaders Phillip Lim, Hannah Bronfman, and Lauren Letta to discuss paving the way for sustainability in the beauty, fashion, hospitality, and nonprofit industries at the 2019 conference. 

2007

FIT Diversity Council is established.

One of the key goals of the FIT Strategic Plan is to create a campus that is purposefully diverse—one which, through its students, faculty and staff—reflects the pluralistic city, nation and world in which we live. Diversity is a fact of life—a powerful source of enrichment, a vital tool in a competitive marketplace, and a cause for celebration. Indeed, it is a critical element in fulfilling FIT’s mission to prepare students with the kind of global perspective they will need for success. But as a community, we cannot just pay lip service to it. That is why Dr. Joyce F. Brown established the FIT Diversity Council. With its ambitious goals and initiatives—and mission to foster a climate of inclusion within the campus community—it plays a primary role in our ongoing efforts to ensure diversity in all that we do. 

2008

President Joyce F. Brown established the Sustainability Council to develop and foster conservation initiatives throughout the FIT community, in accordance with the central role sustainability plays in the college’s strategic plan.

Each year the council organizes and hosts the Sustainable Business and Design Conference in the spring and Sustainability Awareness Week in the fall. The council also manages an annual grant fund of $15,000 to support innovative programs spearheaded by faculty, staff, and students.

2009

2010s

Fourteen state-of-the-art labs open in Dubinsky Student Center.

2010

The Museum at FIT is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

2012

Calvin Klein ’62 and the company he founded, Calvin Klein, Inc., donate $2 million to support the annual Fashion Design BFA runway show.

2012

Calvin Klein ’62 and the company he founded, Calvin Klein, Inc., donate $2 million to support the annual Fashion Design BFA runway show.

Michael Kors endows a $1 million scholarship at FIT.

“I attended FIT in the late 1970s, and the school provided a totally comprehensive curriculum for fashion design that is unparalleled,” said Kors. “Since my days there it has evolved and become even stronger. It makes me so excited to see the potential talent that has been helped by this school, and I look forward to seeing that continue.” Read full article >

2012

Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a joint program of FIT and the New York City Economic Development Corporation that equips emerging designers to advance their businesses, welcomes its first class.

designentrepreneursnyc.com

The program is now known as FIT Design Entrepreneurs.

2012

Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a joint program of FIT and the New York City Economic Development Corporation that equips emerging designers to advance their businesses, welcomes its first class.

The Jerome L. Greene Foundation endows a $1 million fund to support study abroad opportunities for students in the Presidential Scholars honors program.

2013

FIT reduces its greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, exceeding its commitment to the New York City Mayor’s Carbon Challenge by almost 10%.

Pictured: Detail of one of FIT’s green roofs.

2013

“New Views,” the first School of Art and Design faculty exhibition, opens.

Pictured: Associate Professor C.J. Yeh’s “Perfect 10,” a video screen that toys with the viewer’s natural beauty.

2014

Kimora Lee Simmons establishes scholarship fund.

2014

Kimora Lee Simmons establishes scholarship fund.

Textile Development and Marketing students present sustainable natural dye garden proposal at Clinton Global Initiative University and install the garden on campus.

2014

First Sustainability Awareness Week is held.

Pictured: Charlotte the Pig visits FIT campus during Sustainability Awareness Week 2018.

2014

First lady Michelle Obama wears a dress designed by a Fashion Design student.

First lady Michelle Obama wore a dress designed specially for her by FIT student Natalya Koval during a Celebration of Design at the White House. Koval’s design is the result of a competition, overseen by the White House, for a dress that Mrs. Obama wore to the Wednesday, October 8, event. Twenty-six FIT Fashion Design students submitted sketches, from which 12 semifinalists were selected. From that group, the two finalists—Natalya Koval and Chelsea (Zhaojie) Chen—were chosen. Read more…

2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio sets aside $74 million of city budget to construct a state-of-the-art academic building.

New York’s mayor has made a $74 million commitment to FIT in his executive budget to construct a new state-of-the-art academic building that will help the college continue its success as a leading institution of higher education and enhance its offerings in design and business. These funds, laid out in a multi-year financial plan, match a $74 million allocation from the State of New York, made in fiscal year 2009 as part of the SUNY capital plan for community colleges. Read more…

2015

MFA in Fashion Design is introduced.

The two-year, full-time program focuses on practice-based research and is open to students with varied experience in creative areas ranging from apparel design to architecture, engineering, and software development. Offered through FIT’s School of Graduate Studies, it is the first Fashion Design MFA in the SUNY system. Read more…

2017

FIT/Infor DTech Lab is established.

Since its inception in 2017, the FIT/Infor DTech Lab has collaborated with 16 faculty members and hired 60 student interns to design innovative technologies for major corporations like PVH and IBM. Students from across the college apply for these coveted, well-paying internships, which take place inside DTech, on the first floor of the Feldman Center, with frequent visits to the sponsoring companies. These companies have not only shown interest in adopting the students’ recommendations, they have offered some students further internships and jobs. Read more…

2017

FIT opens its third international campus: FIT at SUNY Korea.

2017

FIT opens its third international campus: FIT at SUNY Korea.

The Faculty Research Space opens.

A result of a collaboration between the Division of Information Technology, Academic Affairs, and the Faculty Senate IT Committee, the space is designed to provide faculty with opportunities to explore new technologies. It houses a variety of equipment, including 3D printers, virtual-reality headsets, Arduino boards, and computers equipped with various industry software.

2017

The Art and Design Gallery opens in the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center.

The expanded lobby, designed by the architectural firm David Smotrich & Partners, fulfills the college’s pressing need for more space to showcase the work of students and faculty in the School of Art and Design’s 17 programs.

Pictured (from left): New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, Laura Pomerantz, John Pomerantz, Board of Trustees Chair Elizabeth Peek, President Joyce F. Brown, SUNY Board of Trustees Chair H. Carl McCall, and Dean Troy Richards.

2018

FIT students participate in the National School Walkout to protest gun violence in response to the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

Pictured: Lia Sammaritano, Fashion Design, a 2016 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “I was so happy that FIT participated in the walkout. “It gives me hope for safer schools.” The statement Proud to be an Eagle on her poster is part of the high school motto. “It means so much more to me now. I’m proud that the students are doing so much. They didn’t just mourn—they took action.”

2018

The first annual Civility Week is held.

FIT’s civility initiative is aimed at engaging our community in a discussion of respectful ways of living and learning in a higher education environment. Video, 2019.

2018

The first annual Civility Week is held.

FIT organizes the first Diversity Comic Con.

While comic books have been around for almost a century, the visibility and participation of minorities within in the medium have been sorely lacking. But times are changing, and Diversity Comic Con celebrates multiculturalism in the comic arts.

2018

Student team wins first annual Biodesign Challenge.

2019

The FIT team used novel growing techniques to develop a yarn out of algae and fungi, and used it to model an innovative production method for a sustainable alternative to conventional textiles. As part of their presentation, they showed a small T-shirt they hand-knit from the yarn. Read more…

The Museum at FIT celebrates its 50th anniversary.

2019

The Museum at FIT celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The college is a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Scholars.

FIT has been included—for the first time ever—in the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the highest number of 2018–2019 Fulbright U.S. Scholars. Each year the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces the top producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes the lists annually. Read more…

2019

FIT named best fashion school in the world by CEOWORLD.

FIT is No. 1! A recent ranking from CEOWORLD magazine, a global news and commentary publication for business leaders, placed FIT at the top of a list of 109 colleges around the world offering fashion-related programs.

CEOWORLD surveyed 120,000 people in 42 countries between December 2018 and February 2019: 40,000 students, 50,000 industry professionals, and 30,000 fashion recruiters. The magazine took into account six factors, including job placement rate and global reputation.

The ranking affirms what our community already knows: that FIT’s unconventional approach makes us a global leader in preparing students for careers in the new creative economy.

2019

FIT celebrates 75 years of creativity and innovation.

2019

FIT celebrates 75 years of creativity and innovation.