Grad Samantha Quiroz is a Designer at AETHER Apparel
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Samantha Quiroz attended Patrick Henry High School and received early acceptance into FIDM during her junior year. Since earning her Merchandise Product Development degree at FIDM in 2014, she has worked at top companies including Tadashi Shoji and Hearst Publications and is currently a designer at technical outerwear brand AETHER Apparel which has taken her to Germany, Italy, and countries in South America. We caught up with the FIDM Grad to learn more.
Tell us about your position at AETHER: I have worked at Aether Apparel for five years now. I started off as an Assistant Designer and worked my way up to head designer and have learned so much along the way.
I remember for my final project at FIDM I designed two capsule collections, one for Chloe and one for Patagonia. I feel that this was a true foreshadowing of where I would end up in the industry. I always loved the aesthetic of high-end brands but the functionality of outerwear/active brands and at Aether I get to marry the two.
My favorite thing about working at Aether is getting to design into so many different categories. At larger brands you may get pigeonholed, but I have the privilege of getting to do everything from cut and sew knits, to wovens, to sweaters, to ski and moto, and all kinds of other technical outerwear.
The job never gets boring because of the industry's constant innovations. In the world of technical outerwear there is always some new and exciting technology coming out. Whether it be a new fabric that changes color with your body temperature or a new material that increases insulation power in a ski jacket by 50%, there is always something to keep you on your toes.
Aether has also allowed me to travel around the world. I have been to trade shows in Germany and Italy and scouted factories all around South America.
I have been able to grow so much at Aether and feel so proud of the products that I have created in my time there.
What do you enjoy most about being a designer? My favorite part of being a designer is the special feeling you get when you are creating a garment with your team. There is a certain magic that happens when a group of passionate individuals get together and start sharing ideas. Perhaps one person has a cool inspiration photo, and perhaps another person has a new cutting-edge fabric they want to use, you all start feeding off of each other and in the end it creates a line of garments that you are really proud to put out to market. Then one day you get feedback from some of the customers, and they end up noticing all the small details you loved creating. That is the best part.
How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FIDM helped prepare me for my careers by giving me all the foundational skills. I feel that getting a degree in Product Development, even though I wanted to be a designer, was one of the best decisions I made. In PD you learn the entire process of garment creation and that has really come in handy over the years. Companies want to hire people who can wear many hats; they like candidates who can go beyond the job description if needed. In my degree I learned everything from Illustrator/Photoshop, to working in a basic PLM system, to pattern making, to learning how to create a tech pack. Having those skills alone makes me qualified for a myriad of positions in the fashion industry. Versatility is key.