The New School News

Abrima Erwiah
Abrima Erwiah

Abrima Erwiah Named Director of the Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business at Parsons

Abrima Erwiah has worked for some of the most respected brands in the world, including Bottega Veneta, Hermes, and John Lobb, among others. She has been an advisor to the United Nations International Trade Center, served as a mentor under the Kering Foundation for Women’s Dignity & Rights, and taught in the School of Fashion at Parsons.

She is also the co-founder of Studio 189, alongside actress Rosario Dawson, which is 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. 

Erwiah brings all of this experience and more to her new role as the Director of the Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business at Parsons, which will substantially enhance the interdisciplinary study of the business of fashion and design at the leading school of art and design. 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 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.”

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 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.

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