When it comes to fashion, professional designers need a rare blend of personal drive, creative sparks, educational direction, and entrepreneurial opportunity. Students who enroll in the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University bring their unique vision and talent to cultivate under leading faculty who are also artists and creatives in their own right. The result is a stand-out curriculum designed for hands-on learning that prepares students for specific industries and professions.
Fashion designer and Academy of Art University graduate Eden Slezin experienced this firsthand. As a student in the Academy’s School of Fashion, Slezin benefited from numerous opportunities to develop his skills in an environment that encouraged learning by doing. From practical classes in design to a full-scale fashion show put on by the School of Fashion, Slezin developed a firm foundation for a successful career ripe with creativity and celebrity collaborations.
Slezin’s Career Journey: From Molecular Genetics to House of Harlow
No matter where Eden Slezin finds himself in his journey, he brings with him the passion and desire to achieve his goals. He is also quick to follow his changing interests, which allows him to pivot careers as his interests evolve.
Starting out in plant molecular genetics, Slezin found his undergraduate experience was just one of many career adventures. After a stint with the U.S. Marines, he returned to civilian life in outdoor guiding and retail management roles before deciding on fashion design as the next step.
At 39 years old, Slezin was hesitant to return to school. “I didn’t have a design background,” said Slezin. “I think I have always loved fashion, but I didn’t think it was a career possibility.” But with the right mentors and supports, his drive found the opportunity he needed with Academy of Art University.
Slezin earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion with the Academy and got to work growing his own men’s clothing line. He also worked with his sister, a budding designer in her own right, on her Etsy shop offerings ranging from loungewear to home décor. Before the duo knew it, Nicole Ritchie’s House of Harlow 1960 came calling and invited the D and E Discovered brand to collaborate on a limited Etsy line.
Academy of Art University as a Springboard for Creatives
How did Slezin go from a creative with zero fashion experience to designing a collection with House of Harlow? He credits his time at Academy of Art University with giving him the foundation he needed to operate a business and learn to make his ideas a reality.
Since most master’s programs limit who can apply based on past experience in the field they desire, entrance is restricted to the few who already fit the mold. Academy of Art University, however, operates with an open admission policy and encourages applicants to share their personal goals as part of the admission process. The acknowledgment that life experience, passion, and hard work are important factors in pursuing a higher education enables students like Slezin to chase their academic and professional dreams at Academy of Art University.
Specifically in the Academy’s School of Fashion, faculty guide students through the development of their own, personal vision. Coursework is structured to create awareness of industry standards and the ins and outs of market operations while creating room for students to establish their own design philosophy.
Slezin shared, “I went back to school and started really digging into the craft of it all.” The MFA in Fashion establishes a clear foundation with courses in construction, design, editing, and presenting ready-to-wear collections. Courses place these topics within the framework of historical, global, and current industry influences to help students contextualize their own aesthetic.
Technology also plays a role in design at Academy of Art University. Fashion design students learn how to use 3D design platforms to draft fabrics, garments, and storyboards that have a practical purpose in the businesses they hope to run one day. “Everything I feel like I need to be a successful designer, I’ve gotten from the Academy of Art University,” said Slezin.
Academy of Art University also gave Slezin the opportunity to show at New York Fashion Week, one of the biggest platforms for designers to present their work. “That is the grand showcase, and it’s where you make your mark,” said Slezin. The show was a culmination of six semesters of hard work including directed study with hands-on instruction from faculty and an internship to practice skills in real-world settings.
The flexible curriculum at Academy of Art University encourages every creative to pursue what makes them unique, acting as a catalyst rather than a conformist for success. Coursework is also comprehensive. To graduate, students are required to demonstrate fundamentals in design, technical specifications, and business practice in the context of their personal goals and their chosen field.
The Next Big Thing for Eden Slezin
Ever committed to following his dreams and going where his passions take him, Slezin’s work reflects his understanding of the global marketplace, design trends, and designer personas. During the Etsy collaboration with House of Harlow 1960, he demonstrated his design and business acumen in spades. “I essentially took over as lead designer for the collection,” explained Slezin.
Armed with a mood board, he set to work to create a design presentation by drawing from his MFA experience. “This training helped me understand the assignment. I couldn’t have done any of that without the Academy’s training,” said Slezin. The result was a collection of soft textures and flowing garments that matched the vibe House of Harlow desired.
Slezin hasn’t left his roots behind, either. He incorporates inspiration from his six years in the military in many of his designs for his own line. Sustainability is also important to him, and he reuses textiles as well as uses organic fabrics and natural dyes. “Academy of Art University has allowed me to transition from a career which I was not that excited about to my dream career of being a fashion designer,” said Slezin.
Academy of Art University instructors encourage students like Eden Slezin to pursue their passion with a solid foundation of translatable skills. Rather than requiring students to commit to a single aesthetic or brand persona, instructors help creatives learn to channel their talents in meaningful ways that can be practically applied.
For Academy students and graduates like Slezin, there is no limit to where their creativity can take them. The next big thing can always be around the corner, and it can be completely different than their last pursuit or have a completely different look, feel, or objective. Academy of Art University students can start out with a dream and no experience, only to soar to new creative heights.
About Academy of Art University
Established in 1929, Academy of Art University has a storied history of providing industry-based curriculum learning to artists, designers and creatives. Students can choose from more than 120 accredited degree options, all taught by instructors who are experienced professionals in a course of study. Academy coursework is a hands-on experience that combines a solid foundation of core skills with the freedom for students to express themselves creatively. To learn more about the bachelor’s, master’s, certificate and continuing education programs available, visit www.academyart.edu.