Wildcats in New York

Two UA students take New York Fashion Week by storm

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Fashion is more than a career to two UA Wildcats. It is something that turned into an experience that sent both undergraduates to New York City. These two students made their way to the Big Apple to attend the prestigious New York Fashion Week held in February.

Kylee Hum, a retail sciences major, and Makenna Downing, a communications major, represented the University of Arizona in New York. 

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Both won a competition put on by IMG Collegiate Licensing Company, the University of Arizona’s Retailing and Consumer Sciences program and the Arizona BookStores. 

“I’ve always loved fashion and knew I wanted a career in it,” Downing said. “It was an unreal experience, it was exciting just to sign up!”

Charlette Padilla, the fashion minor coordinator, told both of the girls to sign up for the competition.

“I told every fashion minor I could see to sign up for it,” Padilla said. 

The competition required Downing and Hum to use UA merchandise to create a window display with four complete looks that went along with a theme. For Downing’s window, she chose a generational theme.

“The story behind my window display was about a young girl who goes to the UA, eventually meets the Wilbur to her Wilma, graduates and becomes an alumna and learns that 'once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat,'” Downing said.

Downing went above and beyond for the competition and even made a lookbook to go along with the display. 

“She went above what they asked for,” Padilla said. “She didn’t take it lightly; she wanted to go, and she went for it.”

For Hum’s window display, she chose to portray a family road trip. She said she was influenced by the families in Tucson that have potentially done this road trip.

“It was a mom, dad and a daughter in elementary school,” Hum said. “They were going to go on a family road trip for winter break, and each one of my looks represented a different destination. The first display was them leaving, then they went to the Grand Canyon, stopped in Flagstaff and ended in Williams, Arizona, where they do the Polar Express.”


Padilla said Hum is a great student and was happy to hear she had been chosen as one of the winners.

“Kylee is very talented and a really good student,” Padilla said. 

Since it was the first time the UA had participated in this competition, both girls said they were ecstatic to hear they were going to be packing their bags and heading to New York.

“I was absolutely thrilled,” Downing said. “It was a great opportunity, and it was so rewarding to participate.”

Hum said she had grown up watching Project Runway and knew she wanted to pursue a career in fashion, so having the opportunity to go to New York Fashion Week was a surreal experience for her.

“It was really exciting, I couldn’t believe that I was going to New York Fashion Week,” Hum said. 

To prepare for New York Fashion Week, Hum had to do a lot of shopping, much to her bank account’s dismay.

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“In Tucson, you don’t really get to wear statement pieces, so every time I saw something, I thought it would be good for fashion week,” Hum said. “I had to make sure my outfits were up to New York Fashion Week level.”

Unlike Tucson, New York gets cold in the winter, which allowed Downing to add a few new coats to her wardrobe.


“I shopped for new things and some new coats,” Downing said. “Kylee and I also brought some of our UA merchandise so we could represent our school."

During their time in New York, the girls had busy days. On Friday, they were able to go to the Victoria’s Secret PINK headquarters and learn about the different campaigns. They then made their way to Bloomingdale's, where they learned the ins and outs of the company.

“This was my favorite part of the trip,” Downing said. “This is the kind of job I want, and it opened my eyes to all the different opportunities.” 

Next, they visited Spring Studios, the studio where IMG hosts fashion week, and were surprised with an impromptu fashion show. Downing said it was fun and exciting. The next day, Downing and Hum got up early and did a little sightseeing.

“We got up at 6 a.m. and went to the MET Museum and walked around Central Park,” Downing said.

Later in the day, the pair went back to Spring Studios to watch more runway shows. They were able to tour backstage, and Downing even got her makeup done by Maybelline.

Saturday, they saw two runway shows: Concept Korea and Amelie Wang.

“My favorite was Amelie Wang. He’s a Chinese designer who does kid’s clothing,” Hum said. “I’m Chinese, so it was really cool for me to see traditional material be used as mainstream. At fashion shows, people don’t really smile, and the models are very serious. But the kids were so cute, and everyone was smiling ear to ear.”

Both Downing and Hum said they had the experience of a lifetime at New York Fashion Week and only made their passion for fashion grow stronger.

“I’m so grateful for this experience. Nothing disappointed me,” Downing said. “It was my first time in New York, and I fell in love with it as well as my future career opportunities.”


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