Fashion Forward

A few years ago, as Niani Harris was working as a retail manager at national clothing retailer bebe, she had no idea that she would soon be designing a concept for Coach’s Holiday 2030 campaign.

But those are the type of opportunities she’s been able to experience as a student in the Poole College of Management Global Luxury and Management (GLAM) program. During fall 2019, Harris and her fellow GLAM classmates participated in a study tour of New York City. The team at WindowsWear, the world’s largest and most comprehensive visual database of retail and e-commerce, coordinated the students’ site visits – and mentioned their upcoming WindowsWear x Coach Mentorship Program for those interested in applying.

Harris

The WindowsWear’s Mentorship Program connects brands with top students from around the world and allows companies like Coach to create student projects that identify talent through generating new and innovative ideas. The program required applicants to design a 360-degree experience for Coach’s Holiday 2030 campaign – from window displays to pop-up concepts, and more – for a chance to win a coveted internship with the company.

“We didn’t sponsor the project as part of one of our classes, but encouraged our students to submit an entry because we knew it would be a great opportunity for them,” explains Dr. Kristie McGowan, GLAM director. “Students had to take the initiative to work on this outside of all their other course requirements.”

Harris and fellow GLAM student, Jessica Roner, submitted entries – along with more than 300 applicants worldwide – and both were named top 10 finalists.

“GLAM is a small program so to have two of the top 10 finalists from an international pool of entries speaks to the quality of students we have in our program,” McGowan says.

Harris’s entry, “Unwrap the Legacy,” was built around the concept of celebrating the nearly 90 years of Coach’s history. Her campaign would provide guests with an interactive experience to transport them back from Coach’s earliest moments to their most recent milestones.

“One of my ideas, for example, was creating a pop-up shop divided into six sections – each representing a certain ‘era’ of the Coach brand, along with a reception area,” Harris says. “Guests would be greeted by a store associate dressed according to their respective section’s era, and each room would be decorated to represent that point in time.”

And Harris credits her courses in the GLAM program in her ability to create such a cohesive campaign.

“Had I not just taken the luxury marketing strategy course, I’m not sure I would have known how to approach this project,” Harris says. “I used the framework from class to complete my 360 experience for Coach, and was able to detail which elements would be used and provide visual aids to depicted the vision of what I wanted to bring forth.”

Roner agrees. Her entry focused on the theme she created, “Transparency Through Color and Light” with the tagline, “Look for Clarity, Look for Vibrancy.” This theme was conveyed through her conceptual store environment, window display, pop-up shop, activation and experience, and event concepts.

Roner

“My classes in the GLAM program helped prepare me to create my entry, specifically our luxury marketing strategy class with experienced professional and GLAM board member, Cara Fratto,” Roner says. “She helped me understand how to ideate and present concepts from a luxury perspective considering the brand and consumer from all angles in a compelling way.”

As finalists, Harris and Roner traveled to New York City for a celebratory reception where they were able to tour Coach’s workshop and archives, get to know their fellow finalists, and network with Coach’s creative team along with executives from Tapestry, Coach’s parent company, and WindowsWear over pastries and champagne.

Joline Mujica, head of trends and tours for Windowswear, was extremely complimentary of the two finalists.

“Jessica and Niani were poised, professional and asked all the right questions – something that was duly noted in feedback by the Coach and Tapestry executive teams,” Mujica says. “We are always thrilled to be able to present opportunities for students to make professional connections and were delighted to see Jessica and Niani not only apply to the mentorship program but excel into the top 10 finalists. Out of the hundreds of students that were in contention, this is a win in and of itself.”

Those connections with luxury industry leaders will be critical, says Harris and Roner, as they begin applying for jobs in the luxury market after graduating this summer.

“While I’ve learned many skills through the GLAM program that I can apply to my professional career, more than anything this program has helped me understand the importance of networking,” Harris says. “And being able to network as part of a global program is invaluable.”