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South Salt Lake Journal

Crafting the future of fashion: SLCC Fashion Institute celebrates new locale

Nov 07, 2023 03:18PM ● By Peri Kinder

Mojdeh Sakaki (front row, center) has managed the SLCC Fashion Institute program for 23 years. A grand opening at the program’s new location in the South City Campus allowed students, parents, graduates and faculty to celebrate its success. (Photo courtesy of SLCC)

In the competitive world of fashion, Salt Lake Community College’s Fashion Institute has provided affordable, top-notch curriculum for students interested in a fashion career. For 23 years, Mojdeh Sakaki has managed the institute and expanded the program to include three Associate of Science degrees in fashion merchandising, fashion design and technical apparel design.

On Oct. 12, SLCC celebrated the grand opening of the new location of the Fashion Institute in the South City Campus (1575 S. State St.). It’s the only program in the state that offers education to help students develop in the field of fashion. 

“The new location of the Fashion Institute has given it a new life,” Sakaki said. “It’s very dynamic and it needs to move with the changes that are happening in the world and in the fashion industry itself.”

The grand opening coincides with SLCC’s 75th anniversary celebration and the open house featured a display of 75 years of fashion, as well as creations by SLCC Fashion Institute alumni. 

Several graduates from the program were highlighted at the event, including Michael Lomax who works as the alternations manager at Saks Fifth Avenue, Fernanda Böhme who started Böhme, a fast fashion women's clothing chain, and Shogo Fujiwara, a senior outerwear designer at KJUS.

“We call it the fashion industry, but it’s actually the apparel industry,” Sakaki said. “When we talk about fashion, everybody assumes you are talking about the walkways of Paris and Milan, and that’s not the case. Every single person in civilization wears clothing and accessories and shoes, so it is an essential part of everyday life.”

Classes held in the new 8,000-square-foot space include everything a student needs to know about the fashion industry. Whether it’s pattern-making, sewing, visual presentation, sketching, draping, sales, management, manufacturing or merchandising, the Fashion Institute’s courses rival those of the big fashion schools in the country, at a more affordable cost. 

SLCC President Deneece Huftalin attended the grand opening celebration at the South City Campus and expressed her appreciation to those who had a part in the evolution of the fashion program and the creation of the new location.  

“We are optimistic about the future of the Fashion Institute because we know that this discipline is dynamic and is in constant reinvention,” Huftalin said. “Possibilities happen in this space, and it has a sustainable future. It is an exciting time to be in fashion.” 

As the reputation of the program has grown, the SLCC Fashion Institute attracts students from across the country. It also allows Utah students to remain in the state to boost economic growth by becoming business owners or working in the fashion field. 

In a new development, an articulation agreement with Utah State University will allow SLCC’s fashion students to transfer to USU to receive a bachelor’s degree in outdoor product design and development. 

Sakaki said the skills learned in the fashion program can be used in a variety of industries and the education gives students a chance to work while building a portfolio to help them move toward a fashion career.

“In fashion, there’s huge competition. It takes years of searching and working and experiencing and you need to offer something so different that you stand out,” Sakaki said. “While they’re pursuing their dream, they can have a job and they don't have to be dependent on their parents or the state or do menial jobs in order to support themselves.”

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