The Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business at Parsons School of Design Announces Appointment of Abrima Erwiah as Director


Abrima Erwiah, Director of the Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business at Parsons School of Design

New York, September 8, 2021 -- The New School today announced that Abrima Erwiah has been appointed Director of the Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business at Parsons School of Design. Erwiah will formally begin her role at the Institute, a new academic hub that will inspire, educate, and develop the next generation of business, fashion, innovation and organizational leaders, in September 2021.

As Director of the Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business, Erwiah will oversee the launch of the Institute, provide leadership and strategic direction, create original programming, conduct research and develop related initiatives tied to the Institute’s mission and goals within Parsons and the wider New School community. 

“I am so excited for Abrima to start her role as Director of our new Fashion Business Institute, where her deep experience in fashion, sustainability, and business will help guide the Institute on an innovative path forward,” said Rachel Schreiber, Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design. “Parsons is committed to training the next generation of fashion and design leaders, and the Gromek Institute will play an integral role in our educational mission moving forward. Abrima’s experience, which ranges from working with luxury fashion brands to various initiatives aimed at bringing equity and inclusion to the fashion industry make her the ideal inaugural director for our institute.” 

The Gromek Institute will substantially enhance the interdisciplinary study of the business of fashion and design at Parsons. Drawing on the strengths of existing degree programs within Parsons, it will advance the breadth and depth of opportunities to educate, train, convene, and support a broad fashion business community at the university. 

“I’m thrilled to begin my work at Parsons, where my goal is to create a center of learning excellence that goes beyond any border or traditional way of thinking, and disrupts the fashion industry in every possible way,” said Abrima Erwiah. “We want to lead the charge in the evolution of the fashion industry and to help prepare the next generation of leaders in fashion business. We want to encourage the business of fashion design by operating as an innovation hub that cross pollinates across the industry and that creates hybrid programs across disciplines so we can work with the best of the best in tech, sustainability, business, design, law, media, manufacturing, retail, and more.”

The Institute was created thanks to an $8.5 million gift from Joseph and Gail Gromek in 2019, the largest gift in Parsons’ 125 year history. Joseph R. Gromek has championed innovation and excellence throughout The New School. He is a former Chair of the Board of Trustees at The New School and current board member of Parsons School of Design, and is an active philanthropist with a history of supporting health and higher education.

“I’m so proud to see the Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business launch with such a passionate and dedicated leader at the helm,” said Joe Gromek. “I know the Institute will serve as the crossroads for a wide variety of interdisciplinary studies. It will act as a bridge between academia and industry and help support the development and inclusion of a more diverse group of future industry leaders. I can’t wait to see the important and innovative work that Abrima Erwiah and her colleagues produce in the years to come.”

The Institute will build on a curricular suite of management offerings including the industry-leading Master of Professional Studies in Fashion Management as well as programs within the School of Design Strategies at Parsons. Under the leadership of the Director, the Institute will support the development of new and existing co-curricular programs and initiatives. The academic structure will initially include an endowed directorship, an additional faculty appointment, as well as faculty and student research, collaborative external projects, social engagement, and public programming.

In her role as Director, Erwiah will also oversee the Gromek Innovation Fund to provide resources for significant curricular work and to continue to improve Parsons’ existing program offerings and initiatives related to business and management. The Gromek Innovation fund will also support research exploring areas of our rapidly changing economy, including topics related to systems and organizations, supply chain and design, sustainability, consumption, new technologies, labor, social justice, and finding opportunities for businesses and communities to thrive within today’s world.

About Abrima Erwiah

Abrima Erwiah joined Parsons in 2019 where she teaches MFA and BFA Systems Design & Collection thesis courses. Erwiah is a 20 year luxury goods / fashion industry executive with experience in sustainable development. She has worked for brands including Bottega Veneta, Cesare Paciotti, Hermes/John Lobb, has worked as an advisor to the United Nations International Trade Center and has served as a mentor under the Kering Foundation for Women’s Dignity & Rights. She developed a Master's at NYU Gallatin studying the economic impact of luxury goods in Africa. She holds a B.S. in Finance and International Business from NYU Stern School of Business. 

Erwiah is the co-founder of Studio 189 with actress Rosario Dawson, an artisan produced fashion lifestyle brand and social enterprise that is a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund recipient, and the CFDA Lexus Fashion Initiative for Sustainability award winner. She is the founder of Fashion Our Future, an organization that aims to leverage the power of fashion to engage underrepresented communities in the political process which she developed with designers including Virgil Abloh and Tanya Taylor. Her design work is featured at the “Sustainable Thinking” exhibition at the Ferragamo museum in Florence and at Musee des Art Decoratifs in Paris. Erwiah believes that fashion can be an agent of social change and serves on the committee and is an advisor to organizations including Gucci Changemaker, NEST, H&M Global Change Award, CFDA Inclusive by Design, and Slow Factory One x One. She is a published author and is the recipient of various awards including the prestigious FIT Changemaker Award, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Emerging Designer Award and the Martin Luther King Jr Social Justice award from the University of Pennsylvania.


Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

Parsons School of Design at The New School is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines, as well as online courses, degree and certificate programs. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.

 

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