Today we’d like to introduce you to Jay Calderin.
Jay, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My career in fashion started at the age of 14 in New York City when I began my training at the High School of Fashion Industries. My education at HSFI provided me with a head start which allowed me to work in the heart of the industry until I moved to Boston in 1989. After settling in I was pleasantly surprised to discover a great wealth of local fashion talent. This took my career in a new direction.
I established Boston Fashion Week in 1995, have written several books on fashion and have been teaching on the subject for over 20 years. I’m currently teaching at the School of Fashion Design on Newbury Street, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and online at CreativeLive. I have a new book called What They Didn’t Teach You in Fashion School being released in the US in January 2018.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No matter how long you do something, doing it right always means a lot of hard work but looking back over the years we’ve been very fortunate. Local fashion professionals consistently rise to the occasion, leaders in the community always step up to support their efforts, and the public comes out to celebrate fashion in the city every year.
I’d say the biggest challenge has always been about perception. People hear the words fashion week and have expectations —often unrealistic ones, based on what’s being done in other cities. Although we are inspired by, learn from, and experiment with how fashion weeks are produced elsewhere experience has taught us that in order to make Boston Fashion Week a sustainable we need to reframe, even redefine it so that programming reflects what’s unique about our city. For us everything starts with our tagline — “Boston fashion is smart.”
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Boston Fashion Week – what should we know?
Boston Fashion Week was established in 1995 as a grassroots civic initiative that creates opportunities to increase the viability and visibility of the local industry. It is a platform for both established industry professionals and aspiring newcomers to showcase their work, as well as interact with peers and the public. Events throughout the week include fashion shows and parties, but part of the BFW mission is to go beyond traditional programming to explore new ways of engaging with fashion and its makers.
I am very proud of the fact that we have been able to play a part in the development of new talent in the region for so many years, and that the week has become both a tradition and touchstone for anyone who appreciates fashion in all its many forms — art, commerce, communication, culture, education, entertainment, science, and technology.
We don’t like to lock ourselves into themes for the week as a whole but next year will definitely be about exploration. That will involve entering into unexpected collaborations and experiment with programming that is both provocative and more meaningful for everyone involved. After that year 25 is going to be dedicated to celebrating a quarter century of serving Boston’s fashion community!
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Persistence and the ability to learn from and let go of both praise and criticisms.
Iggy Barskov, Tracy Aiguier, Robert Frye, and Jay Calderin