Who Were They?

Marvin Feldman (1984): [When I arrived,] the self-esteem of the institution wasn’t anywhere near what it should have been. They did not understand that they were better than Harvard; it had such forward-looking criteria. This was an institution created by people who were denied their own opportunity for schooling; they were graduates of the coat and suit business on Seventh Avenue. They had a burning zeal and an appreciation of what education should be.... As you read [FIT’s] incorporation papers, the early people who developed this institution were right on target [with] the mix of general and vocational, education of the working people -- things that today we take for granted. Fred P. Pomerantz (1981), answering questions for FIT’s oral history project. Q: What did you learn about sizing by working with the government? A: Well, I’m the first company in America that made petite dresses. We made petite dresses only. Q: Starting in what year? A: Right after the war. Because we did some work for the Army and over 65 percent of our orders were women five foot five and under. So they gave us the measurements and we had to make the dresses for the measurements…. We were the first one in business that ever made a petite. Q: Did you call them petite? A: Yeah. We used to advertise Leslie Fay Petite. Shirley Goodman (1984): I felt very strongly, as did the founders, about establishing FIT as a community college. It was extremely important to keep … the support of the industry as a partner. It was quite unusual, but [the legislation] was written so that when FIT became a community college under the State University of New York, it would be supported in part by the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries…. [W]hen we broadened the programs of the college, we tried many times to change [its] name …, but it had become so well known as FIT—employers were advertising for “so many years of experience or an FIT graduate”—that no other name suggested ever took its place.