New York University’s Stern School of Business is launching the first fashion and luxury MBA program in the U.S., a one-year program slated to begin May 2018.
Though the degree will have a traditional business core — including key learnings in finance, accounting and marketing strategy — it will integrate fashion and luxury courses paired with experiential learning projects and electives in retail. The program is designed largely for aspiring fashion executives, including entrepreneurs or designers with creative backgrounds looking to build business skills. Stern Dean Peter Henry said that, at its crux, the program is designed to bridge the gap between the artistic sensibilities that are essential to fashion, and the business acumen needed to run a successful company.
The MBA is also an attempt by NYU to keep up with the rapid evolution of the fashion industry and better equip students for the realities of the business. Though schools in the major global fashion cities — including London, Paris and Milan — have had fashion MBA programs for several years, the U.S. has been sluggish to follow suit.
Henry said NYU already holds a competitive advantage due to its location in Manhattan, which most would argue remains the heart of the American fashion industry. The impetus for starting a specialized fashion and luxury program started in 2011, Henry said, when NYU began to orient its teaching strategy toward problem solving in a post-recession economy. Part of the draw for this particular MBA will be its quick pace: Students will complete 51 credits in the span of a year.
“One of the challenges right now in the fashion marketplace is there just isn’t a program that allows a person that has a deep interest and passion in fashion and luxury to find an accelerated path. This is an opportunity for business and fashion to come together.”
Henry said 400 prospective students have already requested an application online since the program was announced earlier this week. The first class is anticipated to be composed of just 30 people, indicating stiff competition as the school continues to raise awareness for the offering.
As part of the new program, NYU is also debuting the Stern Fashion Lab, comprised of board members from the industry that will serve as mentors and help foster networking opportunities. Among confirmed members are Rebecca Minkoff and Gilt Group founder Alexis Maybank, who will also help inform the way the MBA is structured.
“We wanted the board to span the space of fashion and luxury, broadly defined,” Henry said. “It has many dimensions, and we wanted to capture that space, and find people who would be honest with us and give us direct feedback.”