Sophomore Fashion Institute of Technology student Romy Conrad has her eye on the prize. Enrolled by her mother in a sewing day camp at age seven, Conrad was gifted her own sewing machine at age ten and hasn’t looked back.
Prior to her college days, Conrad created her own design prototype called the Romy dress in as many fabrications as she could get her hands on.
“I really value simplicity in design,” said the designer, now 20 years old.
Delving into the trend forecasting reports and archives at F.I.T., Conrad began to develop her eye as a designer. She often references a binder of archival photos from Vogue for inspiration. She also frequents the FX Lab, where photographic images can be printed on fabrics—a process she sees herself specializing in in the future.
“Photography prints are turning into a signature for me,” she said, noting that they are a perfect blend of her two interests, photography and design.
Conrad’s unique method may help her to carve out a niche in the industry; she photographs one flower over several weeks, then prints the final image onto a garment. The end result is truly spectacular.
Currently, Conrad is focusing on outerwear, rather than dresses.
“For Fusion, I did a very long vest, which is one of my favorite pieces…I call it a Monster Vest and I’m going to do another one with five different fabrics on it. It’s kind of like a puzzle right now, fitting all the pieces together.”
Conrad sees enrolling in the Designow Studio program as advantageous to her future career.
“The Designow team has given me insight into the process of putting a design into production,” she said. “They are giving me the opportunity to showcase my designs to an audience I would not be able to reach by myself. I’ve definitely gained exposure by being featured on the Designow website and Instagram.”
In addition to creating a relationship between Conrad and silk producers, fabric printers, pattern makers and garment factories, the meetings between Conrad and the Designow Studio team have taught her “about refining designs to make them have an increased appeal to the customers,” she says, as well as understanding the deep value of collaboration.
Through it all, Conrad says that these insights into the industry have helped to round out her abilities not just as a fashion designer, but also as a businesswoman.
“This entire process has enhanced everything I do. I am a better designer now,” she said, smiling.