Eden Slezin’s Path to Success: From the Academy of Fine Arts to the House of Harlow and beyond


When it comes to fashion, professional designers need a rare blend of self-motivation, creative sparks, educational guidance, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Students who enroll in The Academy of Art University’s fashion school brings its unique vision and talent to cultivate under the guidance of leading professors who are also artists and designers in their own right. The result is an exceptional program designed for hands-on learning that prepares students for specific industries and professions.

Fashion designer and Academy of Fine Arts graduate Eden Slezin experienced it. As a student at the Academy’s Fashion School, Slezin enjoyed many opportunities to develop his skills in an environment that encouraged learning by doing. From hands-on design classes to a full-scale fashion show hosted by the School of Fashion, Slezin has developed a solid foundation for a successful career rich in creativity and celebrity collaborations.

Slezin’s career path: from molecular genetics to House of Harlow

No matter where Eden Slezin is in his journey, he brings with him the passion and desire to achieve his goals. He also follows his changing interests quickly, allowing him to pivot his career as his interests evolve.

New to plant molecular genetics, Slezin discovered that his undergraduate experience was just one of many career adventures. After a stint in the US Marines, he returned to civilian life in roles as an outside guide and retail management before deciding on fashion design as his next step.

At 39, Slezin was reluctant to return to school. “I had no training in design,” Slezin said. “I think I’ve always loved fashion, but I didn’t think it was a career possibility.” But with the right mentors and supports, his drive found the opportunity he needed with the Academy of Art University.

Slezin received his Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in fashion with the Academy and set to work developing his own line of men’s clothing. He’s also worked with his sister, a full-fledged designer, on his Etsy store’s offerings ranging from loungewear to home decor. Before the duo knew it, Nicole Ritchie’s 1960 House of Harlow came calling and invited brand D and E Discovered to collaborate on a limited Etsy line.

Academy of Art University as a springboard for creatives

How did Slezin go from a designer with no fashion experience to designing a collection with House of Harlow? He credits his time to the Academy of Art University for giving him the foundation he needed to run a business and learn how to make his ideas come true.

Since most master’s programs limit who can apply based on past experience in the field they want, entry is limited to the few who already fit the mold. Academy of Art University, however, operates with an open admission policy and encourages applicants to share their personal goals as part of the admission process. The recognition that life experience, passion and hard work are important factors in the pursuit of higher education enables students like Slezin to pursue their academic and professional dreams at the Academy of Art University.

Specifically at the Academy’s Fashion School, professors guide students in developing their own personal vision. Classes are structured to raise awareness of industry standards and the ins and outs of market operations while giving students the opportunity to establish their own design philosophy.

Slezin shared, “I went back to school and started to really dig into the craft of it all.” The MFA in Fashion establishes a clear foundation with courses in building, designing, editing and presenting ready-to-wear collections. Classes place these topics within the framework of historical, global, and current industry influences to help students contextualize their own aesthetic.

Technology also plays a role in design at the Academy of Art University. Fashion design students learn to use 3D design platforms to draw fabrics, clothing, and storyboards that have a practical purpose in the businesses they hope to someday lead. “Everything I need to be a successful designer I got from the Academy of Art University,” Slezin said.

The Academy of Art University also gave Slezin the opportunity to perform at New York Fashion Week, one of the largest platforms for designers to showcase their work. “This is the big showcase, and this is where you make your mark,” Slezin said. The show was the culmination of six semesters of hard work, including directed study with hands-on instruction from faculty and an internship to practice the skills in real-world settings.

The Academy of Art University’s flexible curriculum encourages each creative to pursue what makes them unique, acting as a catalyst rather than a conformist to success. The courses are also full. To graduate, students must demonstrate the fundamentals of design, technical specifications, and business practices in the context of their personal goals and field of choice.

The next big thing for Eden Slezin

Always determined to pursue his dreams and go where his passions lead him, Slezin’s work reflects his understanding of the global market, design trends and designer personalities. During the Etsy collaboration with House of Harlow 1960, he demonstrated his design and business acumen in spades. “I basically took over as the lead designer of the collection,” Slezin explained.

Armed with a mood board, he set to work to create a design presentation drawing inspiration from his MFA experience. “This training helped me understand the mission. I couldn’t have done anything without the training of the Academy, ”said Slezin. The result was a collection of soft textures and flowing clothes that matched the vibe House of Harlow wanted.

Slezin didn’t leave his roots either. He incorporates the inspiration of his six years in the military into several of his designs for his own line. Sustainability is also important to him, and he reuses textiles as well as organic fabrics and natural dyes. “The Academy of Art University allowed me to go from a career I wasn’t so passionate about to my dream career as a fashion designer,” Slezin said.

Instructors at the Academy of Art University encourage students like Eden Slezin to pursue their passion with a solid foundation of translatable skills. Rather than forcing students to commit to a single aesthetic or brand personality, instructors help creatives learn to channel their talents in meaningful ways that can be applied in practice.

For Academy students and graduates like Slezin, there is no limit to what their creativity can take them. The Next Big Thing could always be around the corner, and it could be completely different from their last chase, or it could have a completely different look, feel, or purpose. Students of the Academy of Art University can start with a dream and no experience, to reach new creative heights.

About the Academy of Fine Arts

Founded in 1929, the Academy of Art University has a long history of providing an industry-based learning program for artists, designers and creatives. Students can choose from over 120 accredited degree options, all taught by instructors who are experienced professionals in a program of study. Academy courses are a hands-on experience that combines a solid foundation of foundational skills with the freedom for students to express themselves creatively. To learn more about the bachelor’s, master’s, certificate and continuing education programs available, visit www.academyart.edu.

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