New Fashion Camp for Teens, Tweens Starts In East Hampton

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There are summer camps for every interest under the sun: sports, music and drama galore, but what about for those kids who have a flair for designing outfits, setting style trends and who dream of becoming the next Valentino or Prabal Gurung?

Starting next week at Guild Hall in East Hampton Village a brand-new camp tailored purposely to fill this niche will open.

Stitched Fashion Camp is the brainchild of Rob Younkers, a fashion designer and adjunct associate professor at Parsons The New School for Design, and his boyfriend, Joe Zee, the creative director of “ELLE” magazine, who have a home in Sag Harbor.

It is designed for boys and girls between the ages of about 8 to 16. Although the camp’s website, www.stitchedfashioncamp.com, says ages 10 to 14, Mr. Younkers explained that as a new business the camp will be flexible and inclusive, “so if there’s a nine-year-old who’s dying to come, we’ll make sure she gets in.”

At camp, the budding designers will learn all the elements of what happens in a design house, Mr. Younkers said. They will each make their own “inspiration boards,” learn about fashion illustration and sketch their own designs, in a collection of six different looks. The campers will get to design their own prints, which the custom print company Spoonflower will then print onto the fabric of their choice. The students will then use sewing machines donated by Singer to turn their ideas into reality.

At the end of the camp, on Friday, August 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Guild Hall, family, friends and other members of the public may view the results in a gallery-style fashion presentation. Single-week campers will bring home a skirt or pair of shorts, as well as a new set of skills, while those who stay on for the second week will make an additional, more advanced garment, such as a dress.

“Stitched Fashion Camp has been in my mind so long, so it was a process of taking something you have imagined and bringing it to fruition and making it real,” explained Mr. Younkers. Not so unlike thinking up an outfit and then creating it.

The professor’s desire to work with children was sparked when he coached a 14-year-old on MTV’s MADE, a self-improvement reality television series, several years ago, and, later established a fashion program for children in Montclair, New Jersey. It was a different—and inspiring—experience to work with a “kid who wanted to make cool clothes,” rather than adults entering fashion on a professional level, he said.

His love of fashion and the East End, along with Mr. Zee’s business partnership, led to the camp’s launch.

“When it’s that clear in your mind, as an artist, it makes it that much easier,” Mr. Younkers said.

He and Mr. Zee bumped into the designer Michael Kors in Southampton a few weeks ago, Mr. Younkers said. “He looked at us and said, ‘Guys, the fashion camp is brilliant.’”

“What a blank canvas is to a painter, a blank T-shirt is to a fashion designer,” Mr. Younkers said. “For kids to go back to school in September wearing something they made at camp, that is very cool. How great for a kid to say, ‘I made it.”

The day camp is two weeks, starting on Monday, August 5, and running though Friday, August 16. It also has two one-week session options as well, one from August 5 to 9 and the other from August 12 to 16. The camp will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday. The two-week session enrollment costs $1,850, while the one-week session is $925. The cost includes all materials, although campers are responsible for bringing their own lunches. The camp is limited to about 12 campers and was “just about full” as of early this week.

Those interested in enrolling are invited to visit the Stitched website, call (631) 213-9360 or email info@stitchedfashioncamp.com.

The partners behind Stitched see it as a huge area for growth and suggested they may offer adult classes in the fall in Manhattan.

“You’re never too old to learn to sew,” Mr. Younkers said. “To bring people what they’ve always wanted, but could never get exposure to is the icing on the cake.”

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