Creative Designers, Sewers and Fashion Aficionados Continue to Emerge and Evolve at GCC

Opportunities for Beginners and Arising Entrepreneurs Alike

Batavia, New York— Stripes or floral? Blue or neon? Ruffles or ties? Khaki or rock and rave? If one Googles “fashion trends for 2017,” these are among the options and topics in the top tier of the 115 million internet hits. With such diversity and so many options and outlets, how does one enter the fashion industry, which last year had a market value $343 billion in the United States alone. Come to Genesee Community College, that’s how.


Fashion is one of GCC’s signature programs, and there are now the following four fashion industry degrees:

  • Fashion Merchandising Management AAS
  • Fashion Business AAS with a concentration in E-Commerce
  • Fashion Business AAS with a concentration in Event Planning
  • Fashion Design AAS

All four programs are part of the Business and Commerce division. Students from all programs gain extensive hands-on experience including the opportunity to work closely with professors who are well-regarded experts in their respective fields. They also help create the professionally produced annual fashion show, coming up on its 36th year next month.   


The newest program is Fashion Design, taught by Professor Donna Ehrhart, who has taught computer, business, marketing and now Fashion Design courses at GCC for 28 years. Students learn the fundamentals of apparel construction, design and draping, as well as fashion industry technology and illustration. And because most classes at GCC generally have 20 students or less, the one-on-one interaction between the professor and student is second to none.


“Ms. Ehrhart is always very approachable and she makes each class super interesting,” said Min Muchler, a sophomore in GCC’s Fashion Design program, who is hoping to transfer to either Pratt Institute or Rhode Island School of Design this coming fall. “I learned so much from my Functional Art scene in last year’s ‘Fashion is…’ Show.”


The Fashion Design program has enabled Miss Muchler to combine and expand her multifaceted creative talent. Her Functional Art scene featured ten uniquely designed and created garments allowing her to explore texture, line, form, perspective, geometric design and color, and apply these elements to fabric, as well as develop her own patterns onto wearable, functional art that was fun, glamorous, comfortable and sensual.  


A 2015 graduate of Dansville Central Schools, Miss Muchler spent a good portion of this past semester as well as her New Year semester break working with plaid, and learning the nuances of matching patterns. She sewed the first-ever GCC vest made from fabric that Professor Ehrhart specially ordered following the exact thread count of the College’s officially registered Tartan plaid. She was up for the challenge, adding the experience to her life-long interest in sewing and creative endeavors. Miss Muchler attributes some of her creativity to her grandmother who was quite a ‘fashionista’ and taught her to crochet. Ask Min or many of her fashion major classmates where they hope to be in 10 to 15 years and it is quite likely they will mention owning their own boutique and developing their own fashion line.      


Anyone young person, ages 9 to 19, interested in sewing and wants to explore the fashion industry, from design to merchandising, should sign up for the Learn to Sew courses offered this summer. Two separate, one-week Monday through Thursday sessions are scheduled: July 10-14, 2017 from 8 – 11:30 a.m. at GCC’s Lima Campus Center (7285 Gale Road/Rt. 15A), or July 17-20, 2017 from 8 – 11:30 a.m. at the Batavia Campus. The fee is $249 and includes all materials and equipment for making a pair of pajamas.


Perhaps the best way to appreciate GCC’s Fashion Business programs is by attending the 36th annual Fashion Show entitled “Elysium,” a Greek term that implies an imagery place or state of perfection, happiness and sometimes interpreted as heaven. Two complete shows are scheduled on Saturday, April 29 at 3 and 7 p.m. Advance $5 tickets are strongly encouraged by calling 585-345-6830. Tickets at the door are $7.  


“GCC continues to be at the forefront of the fashion industry. We are amazed how many of our graduates are now holding jobs in New York City, managing huge malls, working as set dressers for network television, developing their own businesses and even designing shoes for P.W. Minor, our local shoe manufacturer,” Professor Ehrhart said. “It is so satisfying when we hear our former students tell us, ‘I am living the dream.’ Without a doubt, great careers in fashion and business start right here in Batavia.”


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Editor’s Note:

For photos from Min Muchler’s “Functional Art” scene in last year’s Fashion is… Show or a photo of Min with the plaid vest she designed for Donna Rae Sutherland go to: