High School of Fashion Industries

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High School of Fashion Industries
225 West 24th Street
New York City, New York 10011
Coordinates 40°44′43″N 73°59′47″W / 40.745344°N 73.99629°W / 40.745344; -73.99629Coordinates: 40°44′43″N 73°59′47″W / 40.745344°N 73.99629°W / 40.745344; -73.99629
Founded 1941
School board New York City Department of Education
School number M600
Principal Daryl Blank
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 1,743 (2004–2005 school year)
Language English
Color(s) blue and yellow
Team name Falcons

High School of Fashion Industries (HSFI) is a secondary school located in Manhattan, New York City, New York. HSFI serves grades 9 through 12 and is a part of the New York City Department of Education. HSFI has magnet programs related to fashion design, fashion art, textile design, marketing and visual merchandising.

Mission statement[edit]

A Fashion Design classroom at HSFI

The mission of the High School of Fashion Industries is to provide challenging, creative, and effective occupational, technical and academic training for New York City students. The faculty and administration of our school, working with the cooperation of the parents and student body and with the support of the apparel industry, seek to provide a unique learning experience and a specially tailored program for all students who have an interest in a fashion related field. The school has devised programs which merge academic and occupational knowledge and skills, helping students to meet all graduation requirements and to see the unity within the diversity of learning.[1]


Admission to HSFI is highly selective. Students must complete an application to the Board of Education, take the school’s exam that includes an art aptitude test, and submit a portfolio. Students are not expected to have formal training in the arts, and many students apply who have little drawing abilities. For prospective students, the school offers pamphlets in most junior high schools and several open house events during the year that include a mock school day with 15-minute classes.

Student body[edit]

The school had a total of 1,743 students during the 2004–2005 school year.[2]


HSFI's mascot painted on their gymnasium floor.

The High School of Fashion Industries is the home of the Falcons:[3]

  • Basketball Girls Varsity
  • Basketball Boys Varsity
  • Bowling Boys Varsity
  • Bowling Girls Varsity
  • Indoor Track Girls Varsity
  • Outdoor Track Girls Varsity
  • Softball Girls Varsity
  • Swimming Girls Varsity
  • Tennis Girls Varsity
  • Volleyball Girls Varsity
  • Volleyball Boys Varsity[4]
  • Girls Wrestling


Founded in the early 1920s, the school was originally known as Needles and Trade High School.[citation needed] The school building was completed in 1941 as the Central High School of Needle Trades.[5][6]

Auditorium murals[edit]

These murals were painted between 1939 and 1940 by Ernest Fiene.[7][8] and have landmark status.[9] Construction of the murals (and the school building) were part of the US federal government's Works Progress Administration (WPA) program.[5] The murals "[portray] in dramatic and moving fashion the long generation of hope and despair, and the high standard of social and industrial accomplishment in the needle trades."[9]

The first panel is entitled "Victory of Light Over Darkness." It symbolizes disorganized society being channeled by enlightenment. The background shows old Castle Garden, and immigrants entering from there, fleeing the racial animosities and oppressions of Europe. These immigrants, of many races and creeds, pass to the left to a typical East Side street. The Central background shows the old New York skyline where now the Custom House stands, and in the farther distance appears a rosy light of a future skyline.

In the foreground from right to left are seen sweat shop, home work, and child labor conditions. Sinisterly hovering over this group is a great green figure symbolizing Greed. In his right hand he holds on to the cut cloth, typifying what was known in the needle trades as "the struggle for the bundle." The bundles, as pictured, were auctioned off by the lower class manufacturers to the lowest bidders. This practice created a real menace to the public at large because of the unsanitary conditions under which such clothes were made. There seems no need to emphasize the heartbreaking poverty and brutal struggle for work which it entailed for the worker themselves. To the decent manufacturers and craftsmen in the industry it was a great danger and constant threat of insecurity.

The central group illustrates men, women, and children carrying off bundles for homework, of the kind which is seen pictured right under the figure of Greed. The line of people carrying bundles was a familiar sight on the lower East Side.

The large figure to the left, representing Enlightenment, points with his right hand to a group symbolizing the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, a terrible event in the history of the needle trades, which seemed the culmination and summing up of all the injustices and bad conditions under which workers of that time suffered. When a fire broke in the Triangle Waist Company factory, panic followed; workers rushed to the doors, which could only inward, and in the press, no one could get the doors opened at all. Girls were crushed; some jumped from windows; others were burned to death.

For some time prior to the fire, pressure grew to make sweeping changes in the industry, culminating in a general strike of the cloakmakers in 1910; as a result, forward-looking leaders combined their efforts to create agreements between labor and management which resulted in the dramatic achievement of the Protocol of Peace, the beginning of a new and constructive ear in the needle trades.

In the section illustrating the drafting of immigrants into the sweatshops of the past, two numbered figures appear. These numbers have special meaning: No. 42 was Max Meyer, and No. 43 was his father. They had left Alsace because they could not endure the indignity of Prussian invasion and occupation. (Max Meyer became a leader of the garment industry and one of the founders of the High School of Fashion Industries.)

In the second panel (on the opposite wall), the five needle trades are shown working together harmoniously. At the top center are the Ladies’ Garment Workers; to the left are the Shoemakers; to the right are the Furriers; the inserted panel to the right shows Milliners, and the one to the left shows Men’s Clothing Workers. Each of the five sections illustrates the various processes and tools used in the industry. (When this school opened, as the High School of Central Needle Trades, all five of the trades were taught, using the tools illustrated in the panel.)

The group of portraits in the lower center portrays personalities instrumental in raising the standards of the industry. They represent the government, education, management, and unions. The figures are, from left to right, seated: Sidney Hillman, late president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; Dudley Sicher, philanthropist; August Bellanca, ACW; Gov. Herbert H Lehman; President Roosevelt, Mayor LaGuardia; David Dubinsky, president ILGWU; Max Zaritsky, president, Hat, Cap and Millinery Worker’s Union. From left to right standing: Maurice Renter, Walter K. Marks, Samuel Klein and Samuel Deitsch, manufacturers and spokesmen for the industry; Stephen Voorhees, architect and Chairman of the Vocational Advisory Commission; Morris Hillquit; Max Meyer, chairman, Needlecraft Educational Commission; Sen. Robert F. Wagner; Raymond V. Ingersoll, Brooklyn Borough President; Mrs. Roger C Bacon, civic leader; Nathan Ohrbach; Gustave Straubenmuller, pioneer in vocational education; Luigi Antonin, first vice-president ILGWU; Ernest Fiene, mural artist.

To the left is shown the Union Health Center, and the way it functions. The insert at the right of the panel shows workers a play, the scene on the stage being "Sunday in the Park" from the ILGWU revue, "Pins and Needles."

The two end sections illustrate present activities and future accomplishment. These include the semi-anatomical figure with the Knickerbocker Housing Project at the right, and the left section with the woman and child symbolizing education and recreation. The buildings immediately in the background commemorate the housing projects of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers’ Union.

And stretching across the entire panel are words taken from "The Song of the Broad Axe," by Walt Whitman.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Fashion
  • Fashion design


  1. ^ Mission Statement of HSFI
  2. ^ HSFI profile at greatschools.net
  3. ^ Official website of HSFI
  4. ^ Sports at HSFI
  5. ^ a b About the school at its official website
  6. ^ Chronology of school
  7. ^ Ernest Fiene's work
  8. ^ Art: "Fiene's Whopper", Time. 1 July 1940.
  9. ^ a b c Murals descriptions, adapted and condensed from a student handbook written in the late 1950s.
  10. ^ Frank Hewitt profile at cdbaby.com
  11. ^ [1] at uft.org

External links[edit]