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Best Summer Camps Across the City for Budding Fashionistas

By Emily Frost | March 19, 2014 7:11am
 These camps will please fashionistas of every age and stage — from those ready to launch a brand to those just beginning to tinker with a sewing kit. 
The Best Fashion Camps in NYC
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NEW YORK CITY — A decade after Project Runway debuted, the dream of rising from humble beginnings to become the next "it" fashion designer still has a strong foothold.

And New York City — home to Fashion Week, FIT and the flagship stores of many major designers — has a range of summer fashion camps designed to help make that dream a reality. 

Sigrid Orr, who teaches a summer fashion course at the JCC on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, explained that while Pinterest and Instagram are increasingly helping draw younger kids into this world, fashion marketing also plays a key role. 

"Kids have become really fashion savvy over the last 15 years since the trends to market creatively to younger and younger age groups have proven to be successful for designers [and] magazines," she said.

DNAinfo New York evaluated camps suited for a range of fashionistas, from the sophisticated preteen to the imaginative elementary-school student. This roster of activities may even make some parents drool — like the 92 Y's field trips to Elle magazine and Michael Kors' offices — and leave you wishing you could ditch work and join in. 

Fashion Camp NYC

12 East 53rd St., Midtown
July 14-18; July 21– 25; Aug. 4-8
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
$1,295 per week

Ages: 12-18

This camp is for middle school and high school students who are serious about fashion careers and want to focus on building a brand. It's not for kids wanting to spend lots of time actually sewing and making clothes during their camp experience. 

The sessions include numerous classes on launching a business, including merchandising and marketing techniques. At the end of the week, campers present their brand through a mood board and a launch plan.

While some of the classes take a serious approach, such as "Design and Development," others are more whimsical, including Friday's class, "I LOVE DENIM!!!"

Field trips include showroom visits to designers like Sam Edelman or Lisa Perry, as well as museum visits and shopping trips.

Passport NYC: Fashion

1395 Lexington Ave., Upper East Side 
June 29 - July 30;  July 27 - Aug. 17
Grades: 9 -12
$5,200 per session, including room and board

This overnight camp immerses teenagers in the world of high fashion through classes in design that are taught by an adjunct professor at FIT and field trips to the headquarters of the big players. 

"They’re learning sewing, fashion design, blogging, styling," said Molly Hott, the program's director. This year the camp will also place a special emphasis on Pinterest, Hott said.

The program focuses on helping each camper find his or her passion. If, for example, they hate sewing, camp leaders might instead steer them towards fashion photography.

Every Sunday is spent on community service projects — a bonus for parents worried about a fashion-only focus.

"They leave here with a greater sense of self and a much better understanding of the industry," Hott said.

Fashion Illustration & Sketching Mini Camp

JCC in Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Ave., Upper West Side
June 16-19 from noon to 3 p.m.
$300 for members/$315 for non-members
Ages: 11-14

If you're looking for classes that require less time and money, the JCC's mini-camps are a good solution. For a would-be designer who isn't sure where to start, the weeklong camp focuses on the building blocks of design, starting with basic figure-drawing. The class then moves into painting and drawing techniques to teach budding designers how to create looks complete with fabric, makeup and hairstyle choices.

"They create a unified collection around a theme (animal prints for example). They learn to examine the pattern of animal prints, create their own, paint fabric swatches, incorporate that print into their collection in some way," said Sigrid Orr, the instructor.

They'll also build a mood board and each student will leave with pages for their growing collection.

Jewelry Design Intensive

JCC in Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Ave., Upper West Side 
Aug. 11-15, 10 a.m. to noon
$300 for members/$315 for non-members
Ages: 14-17

Bored teenagers will enjoy the chance to make their own jewelry this summer during this mini-camp at the JCC. Participants will learn how to manipulate jeweler's wire, as well as a variety of other materials, including leather, beads, semi-precious stones, charms, feathers and crystals. 

The class explores various trends in jewelry-making and campers are also encouraged to bring their own ideas.

DIY Accessories

Curious Jane 
Various Locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn
9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. with 5:30 p.m. pick-up available
June - August
Grades: 3-6
$485 - $585/week

This girls-only camp is for the young creative spirit who yearns to make her own designs and creations. "There’s a focus on experimenting and tinkering. There doesn’t have to be one right answer," marketing director Melisa Coburn explained

This accessories class is grounded in construction and embellishment techniques but involves playing with different materials so that girls see the range of possibilities. By the end of the week, each camper goes home with at least six creations. Popular creations include fascinators, a fun pair of earrings or a chunky bracelet, Coburn said.

DIY Your Room

Curious Jane 
Various Locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn
9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. with 5:30 p.m. pick-up available
June - Aug.
Grades: 3-6
$485 - $585/week

While it's not technically a fashion camp, this interior-design class gets the same creative juices flowing. Plus, it focuses on skills all budding designers will need: sewing, weaving, taping, notching, decoupage, beading and simple construction.

This all-girls class will likely appeal to children eying a unique look for their room makeover. Campers go home with at least six new pieces. Some examples include fun lampshades, cute curtains, or a pillow for the bed, said marketing director Melisa Coburn. The class may pique a girl's interest beyond the bedroom, Coburn said, offering you a style bonus as your daughter asks why should the redecorating be limited to her room?