Paging Elle Woods: Harvard Home To Future Fashion Execs

We hate when our friends who work in finance turn their noses up at the fashion industry. Fashion is a serious (and, yes, seriously fun) business — one that makes hundreds of billions of dollars annually. So it makes sense that one of the country’s best b-schools, Harvard Business School, has developed quite the fashion culture.

Page Six Magazine took a look at what they dub HBS’s “sartorial set” — a tight-knit group of fashionistas with keen entrepreneurial sense:

…Well-groomed, well-heeled women who know as much about modern capital markets as they do about hemlines; who strive to work in chic lofts in Dumbo rather than a trading floor on Wall Street; and who claim that forgoing a “serious” career as an i-banker to hawk beauty products and designer dresses marks them as a new breed of feminist.With their perfectly blow-dried locks and lip-glossed smiles, these women lend a new glamour to the fusty business school, famed for churning out financial eggheads like Michael Bloomberg, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and ex-Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain.

Despite it’s nerdy rep, Harvard definitely has some serious fashion cred. Anna Wintour spoke on campus last year, as did Gucci CEO Patrizio di Marco. HBS students have interned for Chanel and Prada, among other prestigious brands. Gilt Groupe‘s Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Mayban graduated from the program in 2007, as did the founders of ChickRx, Rent the Runway, Birchbox and FashionStake.

We reached out to our friends over at FashionStake, and this is what founder Vivian Weng had to say:

There is definitely a growing interest among our HBS classmates in fashion and entrepreneurship. One driver, of course, is the number of successful fashion start-ups founded by HBS alumni over the last few years. But I think just as important are the industry dynamics. Everyone can see that the fashion industry is changing significantly, creating new and exciting opportunities. The overall movement that we have seen is a general shift towards the democratization of fashion — the opening up of an industry that has for so long been closed off from the public. I think it’s this shift that has really captured the attention of our classmates, both those who are fashion-focused as well as those who are not. There is a growing acceptance among HBS students that there are impactful ways to shape the industry to meet what consumers today want.

We also wanted to know how Weng and co-founder Daniel Gulati got the idea for his start up, which allows people to invest in promising new designers.

The idea for FashionStake arose both from our own personal experiences in apparel and fashion and from conversations that we had with our classmates, many of whom represent our target consumer. Our classmates told us that there was strong demand among young women to have access to fashion first, at discounted prices, with an ability to feel part of the creative process.

Yeah, those Harvard kids sure are smart.

[Via Page Six Magazine]

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