A photo of a woman standing behind a rack of clothes
During her time at VCU, Meghna Vemuri, a fashion merchandising major, has held a leadership role for the VCU fashion show, studied abroad in Italy and volunteered at New York Fashion Week. (Kevin Morley, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

Class of 2023: Meghna Vemuri fashions a promising career path in a field that inspires her

After graduating this semester, Vemuri will continue working as a freelance trend forecasting researcher for Fashion Snoops and make her way to New York.

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Meghna Vemuri was a high school sophomore when she realized she wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. But would her parents approve?

“I took marketing and entrepreneurship classes and always centered the topics of my projects around the fashion industry,” said the Fairfax native. “So, I started to do a lot of research on careers in fashion and decided it was what I wanted to pursue.”

By senior year, she was taking a fashion careers course — learning basic skills in fashion illustration, sewing and marketing — when professors from Virginia Commonwealth University visited to talk about its Fashion Design + Merchandising program.

It was exactly what Vemuri was looking for and, as an added plus, VCU was in-state. It seemed perfect. For Vemuri. But her family was another matter.

“I really had to convince [them],” she said. “I come from a family with very traditional career paths, and they were concerned about me pursuing fashion because they were scared that I wouldn’t have many career opportunities.”

Luckily she was able to convince them to let her attend VCU, where she has thrived majoring in fashion merchandising with a minor in general business.

Among her many accomplishments was co-leading the model committee for the 2023 VCUarts Fashion Event: Access - Runway Show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in May, which she called an “amazing opportunity.” She also helped plan and facilitate events leading up to the Model Call, Jury, and Fittings show, as well as run back-of-house on the day of the show.

“The best part of this experience was working with my amazing team and working with all the designers and design professors,” Vemuri said. “It’s not often that merchandising gets to work so directly with the designers and their work, and I had so much fun being a part of this experience to showcase their achievements. I met so many amazing people and learned how to lead effectively and execute a professional fashion runway.” 

This past summer, Vemuri studied abroad in Florence, Italy, at the Santa Reparata International School of Art. “It was an incredible experience where I expanded my global viewpoints and gained so much creative inspiration from Italian art, fashion and culture,” she said. 

Vemuri had just as many impressive experiences stateside, she said, while working with her professors at VCU.

“All the professors in the fashion department are such amazing and dedicated people, so I feel lucky to have been able to be taught by this amazing array of faculty,” she said, noting that Tammy Davis and Deidra Arrington were particularly influential for her.

Davis teaches advanced event planning and her positive attitude affected Vemuri greatly.

“I had some difficulty assuming a leadership position in this course, and [Davis] always encouraged me and set an example for how to lead through kindness and respect,” Vemuri said. “Her humor and wittiness shone through the stories she told us about her many experiences, through which I learned lessons on how to stand up for myself and navigate the professional world.”

Arrington is not only the department chair, but also an associate professor who organized the Fashion Scholarship Fund case study program.

“I think I speak for everyone in the department when I say Professor Arrington is the warmest, most compassionate person ever,” Vemuri said. “Having her as a professor and mentor in the FSF program, I learned how to expand my perspective and think critically about my ideas in order to create an impact through my work. I look up to her so much and her unwavering support and words of advice will always stick with me.”

After graduating this semester, Vemuri will continue working as a freelance trend forecasting researcher for Fashion Snoops and make her way to New York, a dream she’s had for as long as she can remember. She visited the city in September for New York Fashion Week and volunteered for Sami Miro and Dur Doux.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “I’m drawn to the vibrancy of the city and the amalgamation of art, people and culture, and want to be a part of it.”

The VCU School of the Arts helped Vemuri grow in ways she never could have imagined, she said. And her family has embraced her career path. “Although they were nervous about me pursuing fashion, they are my biggest supporters, and I am so grateful that I was able to attend VCU to pursue what I love. … I have learned so much during my time here and am excited to open a new chapter in my life!”