Gamecock Swimmer takes advantage of a unique opportunity in the Big Apple
South Carolina senior swimmer Claire Gerlock has a dilemma in pursuing two very different passions, one involving healthcare and the other fashion. The exercise science major took a break from the pool and had a unique educational experience as she traveled to the “Big Apple” to attend New York Fashion Week. The unique academic enrichment program offers selected students from multiple universities across the country who are interested in careers in the fashion industry a unique behind-the-scenes look.
“I’ve always had a passion for fashion and makeup and everything since I was a little girl,” Gerlock said. “When this opportunity came up, the student development people knew about it and told me about it.
“I have two worlds. My heart goes both ways. One is medicine because I grew up around it with both of my parents who worked in medicine, so I once had a heart for it, but I’ve always loved fashion and the creative world. The weekend really showed me how quickly this industry moves and how much goes into a single fashion show. There’s so much thought and details in everything.
Gerlock and other students participated in panel discussions and networking opportunities with industry leaders, and also attended runway shows with London fashion house Hardware LDN and renowned Korean designer Son Jung. Students enjoyed a private breakfast at the home of jewelry designer Kyle Garcia of the Kyle Cavan Collegiate Jewelry Company, where they were joined by Kyle Cavan co-founder Elizabeth Shirley for a discussion about getting started and building of a brand.
“One of her phrases when building her brand was to remember that she was part of something bigger than herself.”
“Everything was amazing, but one of my favorite parts was going to Kyle Garcia’s apartment in SoHo, which was beautiful,” Gerlock said. “She told us how she built her business. She was a former swimmer at Duke University, and throughout that meeting, a lot of what she said about values and what she built her brand on was very similar to what we are taught as student-athletes in South Carolina.
“One of her phrases when she was building her brand was always remembering that she was part of something bigger than herself. It’s something that is preached to us on the swim team here in South Carolina. It was cool how the two bonded even though they’re different. It showed how being a student-athlete can go on for the rest of your life with the discipline it gives you.
The New York Fashion Week schedule also featured a pair of special “The Talks” sessions, including a panel titled New Standards in Beauty and Design and a discussion of sustainability and the current fascination with fashion in resale. Students also participated in a Q&A with IMG representatives, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the production and execution of a fashion show at Spring Studios. Students also had the opportunity to explore the fashion resale industry through a thrift store clothing design challenge.
Gerlock will be graduating in May, and while she still ponders what passion she will pursue full-time for a career, this experience has certainly piqued her interest.
“I wanted to go to PA (physician assistant) school, so I would have to take a few years off for that, because I would have to do a lot of observation,” Gerlock said. “I can still do that, so maybe this is the moment I could step into this creative world with fashion.
“This experience definitely made me more curious, and I realized that this could be something that I would really like to do. That’s what I was hoping to get out of the weekend; that I would determine if it was something that I really wanted I realized this would be a good fit for me, but I’m also currently interning with a doctor in an orthopedic practice, and I like that too.I’m trying to find a way to marry the two, and I’m trying to see what feels right and what’s going to fall into place.”