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Above and Beyond

At 21 years old, Fashion Institute of Technology senior Sylwia Kotowska is already ahead of her peers.

“It began with a Christmas present,” Kotowska said of her entry into the fashion world. It’s remarkable, really, that a “fashion design game” with a spinning wheel of different inspiration is what catapulted Kotowska into fashion at the young age of 8.

That Christmas made an impact, and Kotowska was fortunate enough to continue her fashion design studies through a technical high-school in New Jersey. In a specialized program that allowed her to major in fashion design, Kotowska learned invaluable lessons early on, including how to draw and sew, as well as understanding industry terminology.

Due to her supportive pre-college education, Kotowska created her first designs, a top and peplum skirt, during her sophomore year of high school. Inspired by the intricate designs of henna, Kotowska hand-painted her peplum skirt with various henna-style details.

Now in her senior year at the prestigious FIT in New York City, Kotowska feels “extremely prepared…maybe even over-prepared,” for the real world of fashion.

But she hasn’t stopped learning yet.

Kotowska’s first collection, entitled “Rime” (the frost formed on cold objects by freezing water vapor), was inspired by “a cold winter’s night.” Rime was composed largely of silvery fabrics to convey chill, juxtaposed against mohair for a touch of warmth; the feeling of being under a blanket.

Kotowska’s design process starts from the fabric up. Sourcing inspiration together with fabric, Kotowska takes to the streets to forecast current design trends, an application she uses daily. “There is no more accurate way to see trends than to actually see what people are wearing,” the designer said. Lucky for her, there is no shortage of inspiration in New York, with all its’ eclectic neighborhoods and stores, many displays of which she studies to gain an understanding of “which pieces are most valuable to the company.”

A resource Kotowska finds invaluable? New York City itself. “A designer needs to know how to channel what they see in the world, whether it be through travel, feelings or experiences, and learn to turn that into a tangible item.”

Regardless of her collection’s theme, Kotowska always designs with the same girl in mind. She is a woman that is “comfortable in her own skin; who loves luxurious and beautiful fabrics in a way that is not overdone.” She is experimental, and does not fear change, “but always falls back on her simplistic, but detail oriented, uniform.”

With both technical and inspirational skills already implemented, it is without a doubt that Kotowska will go far in her continued fashion-world domination. With the help of Designow, Kotowska feels better equipped to “transition from my life as a fashion student to an actual designer.”

Mentorship is a precious resource for the designer, as she learned through her meetings with the Designow team. “I have learned that there is much more that goes into designing than just making something pretty. Through costing and pattern meetings, I realized there is a lot of work that goes into making just one pair of pants or a simple top.”

She continued, “To be able to say that you work with a company like this, and have the opportunity to have your clothing manufactured at zero cost, is really amazing.”

One doesn’t need a crystal ball to understand that Kotowska’s future is clear. With goals of her own namesake label, and retailing in sophisticated stores like Neiman Marcus, in 10 years’ time Kotowska imagines her label will be “both successful and well-known by all people, fashionistas and fashion haters alike.”

With a future this bright, we’re confident that Kotowska will have way more lovers than haters. 

 

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