The turnout was huge for the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards dinner at the Waldorf on January 7. More than 1,300 attendees raised over $3.3 million to fund programs that encourage and assist students at almost four dozen colleges who want to be a part of the fashion and apparel business. The Fund places students in internships and has ongoing programs around the industry that help ensure a steady flow of great talent to participating companies. In addition, it awards over 100 scholarships each year, worth $5,000 each, to students who are chosen by their schools and submit projects for judging.
This year’s honorees were Doug Ewert of Men’s Wearhouse, Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss & Co., designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo and fashion icon Iris Apfel.
The highlight of the evening was the awarding of the nine Geoffrey Beene scholarships of $10,000 and $30,000 to scholars that have been selected from their schools and by a committee of the fund to compete.
All the speakers pointed out the value of education and the importance of nurturing young talent. In fact, Courtney Vander Linden, Levi’s assistant merchant who presented the AMY award to Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh, was a Geoffrey Beene scholar just last year.
In his Retailer of the Year presentation to Doug Ewert, Joseph Abboud first thanked the students for inspiring the industry veterans. He went on to talk about Ewert’s leadership skills, noting his commitment to American manufacturing and adding that Ewert spent his Christmas break with their factory workers in New Bedford, Mass.
For his part, Ewert offered some good advice to young people coming into the business: find a mentor and be a learner (he thanked Paul Fitzpatrick for mentoring him back when he was a buyer at Macy’s); make new mistakes so you can constantly reinvent yourself; and surround yourself with people smarter than you. He concluded by pointing out that we’re in a fabulous industry, one in which each year is more interesting than the one before.