The Sarabande Foundation Spreads Its Mission Stateside

It’s a particularly unusual time to navigate the fashion business as a new designer or brand. In 2024, even the retail giants, major designers, and nearly every other component of the industry is wondering what’s next.

That’s a question the organization Sarabande seeks to answer, and the premise of the foundation, which was created by Lee Alexander McQueen to support students and recent graduates when it comes to finding direction in the fashion industry. Sarabande made its foray into the United States on May 7 in New York City, taking over The Standard Hotel in the East Village for its annual event, “What Now? A Post-College Guide with Sarabande.” (Last year, the event held in London brought over 800 attendees, and featured a panel with designer Matty Bovan.) At its New York edition, the tables were brimming with reps from LVMH, Thom Browne, Nordstrom, Tiffany and Co. and many more brands. Students and grads-to-be lined up, eager for one-on-one advice from the professionals.

Students in attendance at the event.

Courtesy of Sarabande

It’s not uncommon for students from top fashion schools to have access to industry insiders for guidance. But what sets Sarabande apart is its open-door policy: students and recent grads from any institution can participate. Trino Verkade, director of Sarabande, was on hand at the event this week—which was set up as a casual drop-in situation, so the students could choose the brand reps with whom they wanted to connect and chat.

Most of the students’ questions concerned the state of the industry as it stands, and what emerging designers and businesses need for longevity. “Jobs have changed in the last five years and none of us are really aware of what’s happening in these companies, what roles exist, and how those people got those roles,” Verkade told W. “It felt like a perfect opportunity to bring the New York creative community together—because New York’s like London in that it has got an incredible fashion community, an art community, a jewelry community. It touches on digital and craft. It’s a real 360, multidisciplinary creative culture.”

Inside Sarabande’s “What Now? A Post-College Guide with Sarabande” event at The Standard, East Village in New York City.

Courtesy of Sarabande

At the Zero + Maria Cornejo table, president and partner Marysia Woroniecka offered her own personal anecdotes and words of wisdom, specifically when it came to starting a fashion business as an independent creative. “Some of these organizations run these programs on a competitive basis. I think it makes it like a game show, and that’s not necessarily valuable,” she said. “What’s more important is to dig into a creative person’s life and understand what it is, where they want to go, and help them get there—not have them fit into your idea of what a successful life should be like.”

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