Fashion Majors tell all about the European Study Tour
Fernando Zamarripa is a senior merchandising major and is pursuing a minor in both Spanish and marketing at UNT. His first study tour in Hong Kong opened the door to the European study tour. For Fernando, the overall trip was very rewarding and everything you could imagine.
Lindsey Lotze is a senior at UNT, double majoring in merchandising and digital retailing. Thanks to the European study tour last Summer, she has an internship lined up for this Summer with one of the designers she met in Paris, Alain Lalou.
Q: Can you give us some brief highlights of your experience on the European Study Tour?
I can still remember the first day, we had already landed and not even twenty minutes after checking into our hotel room we were already leaving to take the NTR2 to the Eiffel Tower. We were in such a rush that we were walking quickly through the streets, and I looked up and realized the Eiffel Tower was right in front of me. It was very intense; you need to have that city lifestyle, energy, and personality to have fun and enjoy the tour. “You’ll sleep when you go back home,” one of our professors told us on the trip.
We stayed in Paris for seven days and then we stayed in London for five days. Finally, we ended the trip in Edinburgh for the final two days. Paris was just a dream come true but personally, I connected better with London. In London, there wasn’t a language barrier and I loved the street fashion there.
Alain Lalou reminded me of my mentor, Richard Last, but the French version of him. It was difficult at first because he is French and there is a language barrier, but he was pretty good at English and he translated for Le Jerone, who is one of the largest silk producers. He does so much more than flowers! Any couture that you see on the runway that has flowers, birds, or anything of that nature… Le Jerone most likely does that. We got to go and tour his factory and he only spoke French. Lalou, who I’m interning with, translated for him during the tour.
At first I thought Lalou was just a translator! I didn’t know he was a designer himself. He is just very warm, down to earth, and funny. We went to get coffee and Dr. Strubel introduced us to Lalou and he brought us his design portfolio to look at. He gave us a lot of life advice and I appreciated that he saw the world differently than others. Afterwards I asked him if he had an internship opportunity available and he told me to send him my resume and information. So, I did and I’m planning to study with him over the Summer in Paris!
Q: What was the difference in street styles you saw between Paris, London, and Edinburgh?
Fernando: Paris was very cultured from head to toe. The buildings, cars, and language was so cultured. You definitely need to be adaptable in Paris. London was just a melting pot of everything. You basically saw it all in London. In Canning Town, we got to see the different types of styles that we read about in class. There were different manufacturers that we went to. One was a couture flower maker in Paris. This was very exclusive visit that most people don’t have the opportunity to do.
Lindsey: Paris is J. Crew, London is TopShop, and Scotland is LL Bean. London was the most fun! We had this really cool assignment where we got to pick an article or a fad of clothing that we saw trending and see how it will play out in the US market. One thing that I noticed was silver shoes. All over London all I saw was silver shoes and oxfords. I really didn’t think Americans would implement that into an everyday lifestyle. And then BAM there in Zara, selling them for cheap and it becomes a fast fashion trend. Then Forever 21 and H&M catch on and now I see people all the time, who are more fashion forward, actually sporting them. It was really cool to see this happen.
In London, you see more colors and furs- it’s very ostentatious. I even picked up a fur when I was there! They aren’t afraid to be different. I think UNT embodies that, for the most part because we are an art school.
Personally, I didn’t see too many recognizable fashion trends in Scotland. They’re very common folk and ordinary people. It is the most easy going and beautiful place. We hiked up to Arthur Saint Peak and it was so beautiful. It was refreshing from The States where everything is so urbanized.
After traveling to these places for me, I see things differently now and I would encourage everyone that goes to take some alone time to actually listen to yourself and take in what you’re feeling. Don’t be just superficial about and just be there to take pictures. Do your research beforehand and be excited to go and see different art exhibits that you may never see again. It’s very important to take in everything that you’re seeing and realize the history and the impact. Everything that you learned in your history books, you’re actually experiencing. Another side note to learn before you travel is respecting the culture and the people around you.
Q: What’s something that you wouldn’t have been able to experience if you didn’t go on the European study tour?
Fernando: Definitely the visits to the manufacturers and the small little boutiques. I’m sure that the museums are open to everyone. But you get to experience everything that you read in textbooks. There was a moment where I knew that this was the right trip for me. Any time something major happens in my life it always rains. It was a rainy day in London when I realized that, “I’m here!”
Lindsey: An inside look of what the luxury industry consists of! What was so eye opening was the designers that we talked to. Jaq Azzurri, who was the designer for Princess Diana, was fabulous.
A lot of the designers we talked to said that they would go around to different couture design houses on the streets and try to sell their designs until they could make a name for themselves. Until they could get recognition and this is pre-social media! They were telling us that things just don’t work like that anymore. You can’t just go around and sell your ability to these large corporations. It’s completely different now because of the structuring. You have to have online portfolios and it’s difficult to be a self-starter. Personally, knowing how talented designers are and how difficult it can be makes me appreciate those who do make it. It takes more than just talent, it takes perseverance and a business mindset now.
That’s why when I’m under his mentorship this summer learning more about the business side of international relations when it comes to the merchandising and marketing in that luxury industry is something that I am very excited to expound upon because it’s evident that this realm of retail is changing.
Q: Comparing your Hong Kong experience to this experience, what was the difference and similarities between both trips?
Fernando: Because I was more prepared for this trip versus the Hong Kong trip, I think I enjoyed this trip a lot more. We definitely had a lot more freedom on the European study tour. I think Dr. Strubel did a great job with the itinerary and giving us free time to explore the cities on our own. There wasn’t a time where I said I didn’t enjoy myself. The professor for the Hong Kong trip also did a great job planning and organizing, but the European trip was just a better fit for me.
Q: What would you recommend to someone trying to figure out which tour to go on?
Fernando: If you want that culture shock and you want to experience a different culture, the European trip would be better. They are both really interesting trips. With the Hong Kong trip, it was everything I expected and with the European trip it was everything I didn’t expect it to be.
Q: Do you have any advice for people going on the trip in the future?
Fernando: Go for it!!! Never set yourself up for a no. For some people, it’s a trip of a lifetime and something they wouldn’t be able to do outside of school. This is something that you do even if you have to take out a loan, that’s what I did. Watch different YouTube videos on how to pack. I know I watched at least five!
If you have that type of energy where you want to learn and you want to take it all in, then I would say just go for it. But if you’re one of those that just want to keep themselves then I would say to just stay home and save your money.
Lindsey: Make sure you clarify about pricing when you got out to dinner and carry cash with you when you’re going out to dinner with a large crowd. Also, they don’t drink a lot of water. So be prepared to not have as much access to water.
Q: What were the memorable moments or big take-aways from the trip?
Fernando: The friendships that I made from this trip, are going to be people that I see for the rest of my life. Memories with them are something to remember. For example, one night we had dinner on a boat that travelled the river that surrounds the Eiffel Tower and that was a moment to remember. A funny memory I have is when we were on the train from Paris to London and the train made a sudden stop and we had to switch. We were literally riding between moving cars with twenty other people. It was a fun mess and just an experience that I remember.
Lindsey: It’s going to be really good for my career because I eventually want to start my own business and I am interested in the luxury side of fashion. French couture is the heart and soul of luxury fashion design.
But the first day we were in Paris, we were the last group up the elevator and they had to go to the Eiffel Tower. My roommate and I were left and we had to catch the metro. Well I had never even ridden the subway in New York before, so I had no idea how to do it. So, we are by ourselves trying to navigate to the Eiffel Tower in Paris for the first and we ended up asking a police officer for directions. By a miracle, we got there. There are a lot of learning experiences like that when you go because Dr. Strubel doesn’t baby you. It helps you grow up really fast. If you aren’t at that maturity level and you aren’t willing to be independent and take initiative, it’s very hard when you get lost. You have to be resourceful because you can’t just pick up the phone and call someone. A lot of times you just needed to end up where you were supposed to be.
The European Study Tour is a unique experience that Lindsey and Fernando will cherish forever. Their love for fashion grew as they traveled around Europe in search for new fashion trends and resume worthy internships. Whether you’ll find your favorite place to be Paris, Scotland, or London, this tour could be your chance to broaden your horizon and build your network!
To see more from these two, follow Fernando @@iamfernandozamarripa and Lindsey @Lindseylotze on Instagram!
Words by Rikki Willingham
Images courtesy of Lindsey and Fernando during their trip
Edit by Reilly Farris, Carolina Gonzalez, and Maia Wilson