Exchange Visitor Close Up: Alice Firman

Under the IACC’s sponsorship, Alice spent six months training in fashion merchandising, marketing, and product development with Alexander Wang in New York City. A native of Milan, Alice studied fashion and marketing and had previously interned with several European based fashion houses before beginning her training program with Alexander Wang.

As a part of the Alexander Wang team, Alice trained under Senior Womenswear Designer Pierre Capdevielle in the bustling heart of Manhattan. During her training program, Alice assisted with the creative development of the brand’s latest collection, which allowed her to experience firsthand the operational differences between American and European fashion brands. Alice was particularly impressed by the differences in the amount of market research that goes into American-based product design and creation with respect to European brands. This experience provided her with industry insights and perspectives only available within the US.

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically affected the nature of Alice’s training program after global production was forced to either slow down or temporarily shut down. As Alice trained remotely this past spring creating prototype garments alongside the rest of her team, she learned the difference in “creating a product that stands on its own as a creative idea and creating a product that is both unique and reflective of market demand.” Under the guidance of Ms. Capdevielle, Alice saw how American brands create a unique item that is reflective of the brand’s overarching nature while also being marketable and profitable from a sales perspective. The American fashion market’s focus on individualism and consumerism profoundly impacted Alice’s understanding of the fashion industry’s business model. Of course, the global pandemic hit the luxury industry quite hard at its onset, as it is largely dependent on communal, interactive events, presentations, and production. Alice was inspired by Mr. Wang’s receptiveness to change and his ability to create a productive and inclusive digital work environment amidst such upheaval. 

Although the global health crisis required Alice to return to Italy, she considers her training in the U.S. to have been an indispensable opportunity for her blossoming career. For those interested in pursuing a J-1 visa program, Alice remarked that traveling throughout and training in the U.S. “will always make sense.” Coming from Europe, Alice was most impressed by the diversity of New York’s art, cultural, social, and academic scene. Prior to the shutdown, she was an avid visitor of various museums and galleries and enjoyed having the opportunity to interact and collaborate with individuals from different backgrounds, both in and out of the office. This is something that Alice says she will take with her in her future endeavors. 

The IACC would like to thank Alice for her time and willingness to share her experience, as well as her host company Alexander Wang, for their membership and dedication to the J-1 visa Exchange Visitor program.

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