From Istanbul to New York City: the journey of a young designer

Fashion Institute of Technology

What started as a one-year student exchange program between FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and Istanbul Technical University has blossomed into much more for Cagla Ertan. While attending FIT Cagla entered and won a contest organized by JCPenney and Lectra. Her creativity and ability to meet, and exceed, the expectations of the JCPenney design teams and her mastery of Lectra’s Kaledo design solution landed her an internship with the retailer. Taking the leap from her comfort zone to a new city, language and culture opened the door for many opportunities and experiences, and that is just the beginning. Be sure to watch the video at the end of the interview to learn more about Cagla, the contest and her time at FIT.

1. Why did you choose to attend FIT?  

I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer and I chose FIT because I wanted to learn from one of the best fashion schools in the world. My school in Turkey, Istanbul Technical University, offers a dual degree program that allows you to complete course work there and at FIT.  The opportunity to attend a great school and have international experience was one I could not let pass me by. knitkazak2_0.jpg

2. Tell us a bit about your internship at JCPenney. How would you describe the experience? 

I started my internship in October 2016 and it has been a great experience. I am learning a lot about the industry and from a design perspective; I am becoming more familiar with the entire process, from concept to production.  

3. What have been your biggest lessons, or learning experiences, while interning at JCPenney?

My biggest learning experience and lesson so far is that the key to meeting short deadlines is hard work and multitasking. Since starting my internship I have witnessed, first-hand, the amount of work that needs to be done in order to create a product with very short lead times. 




4. Which JCPenney brands are you currently working on? 

I work very closely with a senior designer on Boutique + Boutique. It is a contemporary plus size brand.

5. What has surprised you the most during your internship?

I was surprised by how much autonomy, and as a result a lot of responsibility, I had from the very beginning.  Those responsibilities and level of autonomy made my internship more than just an internship; it truly feels like my first real job. 

6. How do you use Lectra solutions during your internship? Has Kaledo played an important role?

Unlike my time at FIT, I do not use Kaledo on a day-to-day basis. However, in the design team we work closely with the CAD team to create new prints for seasonal deliveries and create the color cards. 

7. How would you describe the experience of making the JCPenney video? 

Since it was my first time as the subject of a video shoot you can imagine that I was quite nervous. However, the team was amazing and helped to calm me down and make the entire experience very pleasurable. So, in the end, I became more comfortable and allowed myself to enjoy and live in the moment. The shoot truly has become etched in my mind as one of the great New York City   & FIT memories, and I am very thankful for that.