Meet Asanyah Davidson, Chairperson – Miami Fashion Institute:

I love design and the way a designer’s mind works. I spent several years in the industry in New York and after completing my graduate degree in London, I returned to the States and worked at Macy’s Florida Division as an assistant buyer. During that time, I also started teaching at Miami International University of Art & Design and Broward College while working on my own mini collections. I most recently took my love of teaching and knowledge of fashion to West Africa where I taught at schools in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana.

Asanyah Davidson smlThat year on the Continent allowed me to learn extensively about native techniques and the ever-popular Ankara fabrics. I love mentoring and sharing my passion for design with students. The opportunity to join the groundbreaking Miami Fashion Institute was one I could not pass up. I had always admired the college for continually being at the vanguard of thought leadership and inclusion. My areas of interest are education, global studies, design and fashion as communication. 

M.A. Design Studies from Central Saint Martins London, England, B.S. International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries from F.I.T., Studied abroad in Polimoda, Florence, Italy, A.A.S Fashion Design from F.I.T., Design and Architecture Senior High 

Q: Fashion is in fashion once again in Miami, becoming a hot, growing industry in Miami-Dade County, which has always had roots in the industry. How is the Miami Fashion Institute at Miami Dade College supporting this growth? 

We provide the infrastructure and talent that will continue the growth Miami’s fashion industry. Fashion isn’t just made up of designers, there are pattern makers, technical designers, surface designers, illustrators, buyers, sales assistants and many more roles and titles that go into building a sustainable industry. We offer a very high quality, low cost option for students who may not have had an opportunity to go into a field that is often seen as exclusive and expensive. 

Q: What sets MFI apart and how is it making high quality fashion design and fashion merchandising education accessible to all? 

As a public accredited institution, accessible to all walks of life, MFI focuses on providing quality opportunities that may not otherwise exist for many students, especially in Greater Miami. Our tuition cost for the 2-year degree programs are less than $10,000. No other accredited institution offers that with 

the amazing instructors we have. We’re proud of what we are building here and continue to pack tremendous value into every moment our students spend with us. 

Q: What is your role at the MFI? 

Everything! I review how we advise new and current students, coordinate schedules, onboard faculty, develop impactful curriculum, oversee related activities, work with industry to provide quality internships. Mostly I worry that we are always doing our best for our students. I’ve gone to some of the best schools and I recognize that reputation isn’t built overnight. It takes time and forethought. 

Q: Innovation and technology play a huge role in every industry. How is this shaping the MCI and how is the school ensuring graduates are job-ready for the positions in the industry? 

There are so many changes happening in how we produce fashion and in the way we serve the customer. As a two-year program we do focus on strong foundation skills but we also recognize that students need to be prepared for what’s happening so we integrate sustainability projects, 3D printing, laser cutting, fabric printing and review the changing landscape of consumer behavior. Students are encouraged to explore and expand on new business models. We often ask our future Merchants to find a simple problem and solve it. The greatest business ideas come from solving a universal issue. 

Q: Like many, you have deep roots in South Florida and the Caribbean. How is this influencing your work and the local fashion scene? 

DASH was a huge turning point for me. I was finally in a learning environment that fed my creative soul but also kept me challenged academically. I know what our students are capable of if only they have the right tools and the opportunity to use them. I wholeheartedly support public education. Fashion has a very glossy appearance but it’s a very tough industry that takes a lot of grit and passion to thrive in it. I do believe we have a well of un-tapped, hard-working, talent here and I’m proof of that. Also, being Jamaican born, gives me a very specific window into the immigrant experience many of our students are having as first-generation Americans. I keenly understand the battle between what their parents grew up with vs. how we operate here in the Miami. Often times, our students can’t ask a parent for advice because not only do they not know our school system, they also don’t know our industry. 

Q: What is next for fashion in Miami in your perspective? 

Set ourselves apart. Not trying to complete with New York or California but finding what makes us unique in the overall fashion industry and focusing on building that brand. We have an opportunity to really focus on technology and sustainability, two extremely important areas that we can dominate if we move strategically and build a skilled workforce. At MDC and the MFI, we work closely with industry, business organizations such as the Beacon Council and a Board of Advisors composed of top industry professionals. I am confident Miami will soon emerge as a new fashion capital. Until then, we’ll pretend. Visioning is always a must and great motivation. 

Q: For students that can go anywhere, why is Miami the place to come for fashion? 

Why not, we have the best weather 365 days of the year, beaches and culture. And, our best asset, amazing, diverse people. The Caribbean and Latin cultures here are deeply rich and the city is growing leaps and bounds every month, not just in new buildings but in how we socialize and the events that take place here year-round. Our transit system is getting better and there is always something to get into much 

like our Northern cousin, New York. I also feel that Miami’s fashion industry is more about inclusiveness. We want to work and collaborate in a space that doesn’t have gate keepers. 

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