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.
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.
Evening division opens.
FIT’s first commencement is held, with 65 graduates.
Class of January–June 1947
The State University of New York (SUNY) system is established. Community colleges within the university are authorized.
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.
FIT’s first research project, Seams and Pressing Qualities of Five New Synthetic Fabrics, is initiated.
Student work, circa 1950.
An early student fashion show.
FIT’s original 10 faculty members, with college administrators, c. 1951.
FIT becomes SUNY’s second community college, with 400 day and 1,000 evening students. Dr. Mortimer Ritter serves as president.
Lawrence L. Bethel is appointed president.
FIT Alumni Association is founded.
FIT is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Ground is broken for FIT’s first building.
FIT’s first building opens. The auditorium is named for cloak and suit manufacturer Morris W. Haft and his wife, Fannie.
Ad from Alcoa touts FIT’s use of the company’s aluminum building exteriors.
Students set up model sewing machines in a course on manufacturing plant layout.
Student fashion show from the 1960s.
Mayor Robert Wagner joins Shirley Goodman and Morris W. Haft at an FIT fundraising gala.
Famous fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez was FIT’s yearbook editor in 1962.
FIT’s first residence hall, named for Isidore Nagler, vice president of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, opens.
FIT establishes technical assistance program with Shenkar College, Israel.
Knitting Lab, early 1960s.
Lawrence L. Jarvie is appointed FIT’s third president.
The United College Employees of FIT/American Federation of Teachers Local 3457, the first public higher education union in the state, was founded in 1967, representing full-time faculty.
By 1970, staff and part-time employees were included, too. FIT is still the only New York college with such an inclusive union contract, and it became the model for unions at colleges across the country.
Students take a cigarette break in a stairwell.
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.
Students and faculty protest the Vietnam War, Oct. 15, 1969.
Mayor John Lindsay and David Dubinsky attend the groundbreaking for four new buildings, including the Dubinsky Student Center.
FIT under construction.
Groundbreaking is held for four new buildings.
An early ’70s marketing image communicating the college’s range of majors.
Marvin Feldman is appointed FIT’s fourth president.
FIT Alumni Stephen Burrows and Calvin Klein share the Coty Award for Womenswear. Burrows is the first black designer to win a Coty.
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.
David Dubinsky Student Center opens.
Vogue declares the work of FIT alumnus Calvin Klein “a definitive picture of the American look.”
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.
Business and Liberal Arts Center opens.
FIT Alumna Janelle Commissiong, from Trinidad and Tobago, is named first black Miss Universe.
AAS program in Cosmetics, Fragrance, and Toiletries is endowed by Revlon; Hazel Bishop, chemist and inventor of “kiss-proof” lipstick, is chair.
Portfolio Yearbook, 1978.
FIT hosts a tribute to black designers, including Jeffrey Banks and Jay Jaxon.
Mildred Custin, president of Bonwit Teller, with Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, and Pauline Trigère.
The Computer Graphics Lab opens.
Pictured: Professor Elaine Stone giving instruction.
New York Is Fashion event, with President Marvin Feldman and designers Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, and alumnus Calvin Klein.
The Design/Research Lighting Laboratory opens.
FIT turns 40.
The School of Art and Design is accredited.
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.
The Art and Design Center is named for Fred P. Pomerantz, founder of the Leslie Fay Company.
Affiliation with Politecnico Internazionale della Moda in Florence, Italy, is established.
FIT helps to establish the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, India.
Alumni Hall opens.
Toy Design students modelmaking.
FIT establishes the world’s first BFA in Toy Design.
FIT’s stellar yearbook, Portfolio.
Geoffrey Beene serves as critic for the student fashion show.
Peter G. Scotese Computer-Aided Design and Communications Lab, named for longtime FIT trustee and former chairman and CEO of Springs Industries, opens.
Allan F. Hershfield becomes FIT’s fifth president.
Administration and Technology Center is named for Marvin Feldman, FIT president from 1971 to 1992.
The Museum at FIT is established.
Dance Theatre of Harlem performs on campus.
Tickle Me Elmo, designed by Amanda Friedman, Toy Design ’91, is released by Tyco Preschool.
President Brown cuts ribbon to the open the new computer lab.
Dr. Joyce F. Brown is appointed FIT’s sixth president—the first woman and first African American to hold that office.
Dr. Joyce F. Brown with Brooke Astor at women’s history event.
Bob Mackie with Carol Burnett at The Museum at FIT’s show of the designer’s work, “Unmistakably Mackie.”
FIT assists in establishing a fashion college, Zhejiang Institute of Fashion Technology, in China.
President Brown announces unprecedented five-year, $21.3 million investment plan to address initiatives identified through FIT’s first strategic planning process.
Jay and Patty Baker donate $10 million, FIT’s largest gift.
Tiffany & Co. endows Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry Design.
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.
FIT receives $1 million bequest from Bill Blass.
Arnold Scaasi with first lady Laura Bush and Dr. Joyce F. Brown at the “Scaasi: Exuberant Fashion” exhibition at MFIT.
FIT collaborates with Thai Garment Manufacturers Association to establish fashion school in Bangkok.
Groundbreaking for dining hall.
FIT’s first liberal arts degree program, in Visual Art Management (now Art History and Museum Professions), is launched.
The women’s tennis team wins NJAA Region XV Championship five times in five years.
George S. And Mariana Kaufman Hall, FIT’s fourth and largest student residence, opens.
FIT and Politecnico di Milano partner to launch a Fashion Design BFA, offering one year of study in Milan.
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.
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.
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.
Fourteen state-of-the-art labs open in Dubinsky Student Center.
The Museum at FIT is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
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 >
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 program is now known as FIT Design Entrepreneurs.
The Jerome L. Greene Foundation endows a $1 million fund to support study abroad opportunities for students in the Presidential Scholars honors program.
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.
“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.
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.
First Sustainability Awareness Week is held.
Pictured: Charlotte the Pig visits FIT campus during Sustainability Awareness Week 2018.
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…
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…
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Student team wins first annual Biodesign Challenge.
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.
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…
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.