Building up Brands at the Michigan Fashion Media Summit

For the past seven years, a team of over 50 students from the University of Michigan has invited some of the world’s biggest names in fashion and media industries to the Michigan Fashion Media Summit. This year, the planning team is focusing on providing the best opportunity for attendees to network and learn from the seven sessions to be held on April 5. 

Speaker presenting“A lot of people have certain ideas about what the fashion industry is but we want to show people that it is so interconnected with business,” MFMS co-president Sophie McKay said. “It isn’t just fashion, it’s so much more than that.”

MFMS will be held at the Ross School of Business in the heart of Ann Arbor and is open to anyone interested in learning about business and fashion-related industries. The conference is catered mostly towards students from all different majors and career interests. 

“It is a big priority of ours to educate our school and also surrounding schools and students from all over the country on what [fashion] can mean and how we translate that to the day of our summit, speakers and partners,” Mckay said. 

Both McKay and their MFMS co-president Ella Mahmoodzadegan are excited about all of the speakers. Some of their personal highlights include Chris Appleton, Kim Kardashian’s hairstylist, Steve Madden, the founder of his personal fashion brand and Jonathan Newhouse, the chairman of the board at Conde Nast. All three of these speakers hail from very different business and fashion backgrounds as both presidents hope to cater to many different interests and topics. 

“We [have] a wide range of different speakers that touch on a huge variety of career paths,” Mahmoodzadegan said. “As someone who does not plan to go into fashion right out of college but am more focused on the media and business side of things, I think we have such a wide variety of speakers that can really appeal to a huge demographic of people.” 

The summit consists of four speaker sessions in the morning, four speaker sessions in the afternoon and a corporate coffee chat hour. During the one-hour networking break attendees can register to meet with representatives from different companies who are looking to hire people and network. There are around 17 networking partners that are scheduled to host coffee chats with attendees. 

“In the past people have gotten official job opportunities from these coffee chats,” McKay said. “I think it’s a great way to give our attendees a tangible outcome from attending the summit and also just the ability to network with so many industry professionals.”

The summit starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. with the annual Fashion Forward Showcase. The FFS features a student entrepreneur working to break into the fashion industry. This year 30 people applied but the top five will be showcased at MFMS with the final winner being chosen by key speaker and sponsor Steve Madden. 

“The prize this year is a great opportunity for [the winner],” McKay said. “We try to balance something that is fun and an experience but also something that can forward their career in fashion or whatever industry they’re pursuing.” 

Every attendee will receive a complimentary goodie bag and lunch as well as have the opportunity to network with a multitude of students and business professionals. 

“Just hearing about career advice in general, what’s helped them maintain success throughout their careers and things they wish they had known when graduating college and entering the workforce, any advice that you can gain […] is something tangible that you’re able to walk away [with],” Mahmoodzadegan said.

Learn more about the Michigan Fashion Media Summit on their website and Instagram, and buy your tickets for this year’s conference.

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