FIDM’s Menswear Graduates Mix Art and Science

While menswear is a big business, it is not a major course of study at design colleges.

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising runs one of the few menswear design certificate programs in the United States at its campus in downtown Los Angeles. On June 20, FIDM’s menswear program held a reception for students from its 2019 class.

FIDM’s menswear certificate program has an emphasis on business. Students must complete courses on supply-chain management and distribution strategies along with design.

In February, the students took a 10-day trip to the Dominican Republic to tour factories and ask executives how they operate major facilities.

With such an emphasis on practicality and technology, it made sense that students were given a senior project to develop fashion with a technological edge. Six students displayed their works at FIDM’s annex building. Their wearable-technology styles drew heavily from each student’s life experiences, perspectives and social concerns.

Helmer Guevara, whose parents emigrated from El Salvador in the 1980s, drew from Central American art and crafts. One piece he designed had immigrants in mind. He designed a quilted down jacket with several compartments. One is for a life vest. Another has a small water-filtration system to purify water from rivers. The down jacket also has extra fabric and can be rolled out into a sleeping bag. Guevara was honored with the menswear department's Most Innovative award.

Aaron Galanza made a nylon jacket to outfit “the urban explorer.” She called it a Swiss Army knife for clothing. Around the hem is a light strip that can blink and flash when walking at night. The jacket also has a flashlight in one pocket and another pocket packed with a detachable rape alarm.

Odalis Garcia, a skateboarder, designed a nylon jacket equipped with a light strip that flashes at night.

Juliana Deintinis, who formerly was a rodeo barrel racer, made clothes inspired by rodeo riders and fashion from Asian countries. For her tech piece, she made a vest with a solar-energy charger that can power a Canon Powershot G7 camera—the camera that is en vogue for influencers, she said.

August Ortega’s tech-inspired jacket featured solar panels that connect to a battery pack in the front pocket to charge a phone. Other looks in his collection included tuxedo shirts and oversized jackets with floral lining.

Ramone Payton was honored with the menswear department’s “most marketable” award. He traveled a hard road to receive his honor. Payton was scheduled to graduate from the menswear program in 2018, but days before he was to turn in his graduate project, thieves broke into his car, stealing his laptop computer and the garments he was to submit for the menswear certificate program.

He felt his future had been stolen because he couldn’t complete his coursework, but FIDM allowed him to repeat a semester at no charge.

Payton said at first he was crestfallen, but he got to rethink and polish the project. “I felt it was a blessing to redo it,” he said. “I feel like it’s a new beginning.”

Payton made a luxe streetwear line inspired by prep-school uniforms and fraternities. For his tech piece, he made a jacket outfitted with a battery pack connected to a heater. The wearer can turn it on and heat up the jacket just as one would an electric blanket.