When 14 students of Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) came to visit Goodwill’s Chelsea boutique last Wednesday, July 16, they were all business. The young women had exactly twenty minutes to race around the Goodwill store to find the perfect outfit for their assigned fashion challenge!

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During this speedy “fashion challenge” the students teamed up to create stylish outfits for different occasions. But these weren’t just any average fashion students. These 14 impressive ladies are not only studying fashion topics this summer, but are also studying English. 

The international group included students from Spain, Italy, South Korea, China, Brazil, Japan, Ukraine and the Philippines. During the intensive four-week summer program at FIT, these women spend their first half of their day studying English with their teacher Marcia Biederman.

Biederman came with the students Wednesday for their “fashion challenge.” But of course, since Marcia is the students’ English teacher, she couldn’t leave without getting some English practice in!

As part of the challenge, students were mixed into teams which included women who all spoke different native languages. The students had to work together, in English, and then come up with a presentation about their outfits at the end of the challenge.

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At the beginning of the day, the students had an introductory presentation about Goodwill including information about our services, programs and retail stores. The students enjoyed hearing about the mission of Goodwill as many of them do not have thrift stores or similar organizations in their home countries.

Biderman, who has shopped at and donated to Goodwill all of her adult life, says she was excited to bring her students to the Goodwill store. “Part of what we teach the students in our English class is how to talk about and live on a budget in New York City.”

After connecting with Goodwill NY-NJ’s Director of Communications, Jose Medellin, three years ago for a similar event at a Brooklyn Goodwill store, Biderman decided to contact him again to set up a unique event for her current students. The event, she said, aims to let the women practice english, explore fashion and shop smart a perfect combination for her FIT summer program students.

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Marcia definitely knows her students well. As the women ran around the colorful Chelsea store to find the perfect outfit, they smiled and laughed with their teammates. When it came time for the outfit judging, the students waited anxiously as visual merchandisers Ever Campos and Victor Lopez gave their opinions.

FIT 1

As the students presented their look, they had to use their English skills to describe the story of the person wearing the outfit. Each team had a different “character” they were assigned to dress such as a “50 year old woman attending her daughter’s wedding” or a “18 year old boy going on a first date with an older woman at an amusement park.”

One group got especially creative with the back-story for their character, “a very trendy 25 year old woman going to meet some friends for coffee.” The group presented a chic Tory Burch dress with low red heels and trendy wayfarer glasses.

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They even included a book from the Goodwill store with a creative jewelry piece as a bookmark so this woman “would not look lonely if she arrived first at the coffee shop.” This look was one of the judges’ favorites for its trendy style and adorable story line.

When all the looks were presented, the judges provided their opinions on each outfit. Since each outfit was for a separate occasion, they decided it was unfair to pick a “winner.”

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After two hours of smiles, laughs and some great fashion, the 14 girls left the store with some new styling advice and a few new Goodwill purchases.

“The students really enjoyed themselves,” Biderman said of the event. “Everyone at Goodwill really rolled out the red carpet for us.”

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Check out our gallery below for some more photos from Wednesday’s event!

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Alyssa Raiola is a Journalism student at Northwestern University where she spends her time writing for campus publications, searching for new restaurants, and picking the perfect Instagram filters. Although she loves jogging along Lake Michigan and exploring the Windy City, her heart lies back home in New Jersey where pizza is the right shape and bagels are a delicacy. This summer, she’s back in the Big Apple interning and blogging with Goodwill Industries before she heads off to Seville, Spain to study abroad for the fall semester.

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Your purchases support the mission of Goodwill. To get the latest fashion trends and tips and learn about our upcoming promotions, please read our thrift fashion blog A Good Look

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  1. Pingback: @PlanetBrandee LIVE! From the 72nd Street Goodwill Boutique | AGOODLOOK by GW NYNJ

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