ESU’s Swank Wins Trip to Sony Open

Jelena Janovic (right) wore a dress designed by ESU’s Samantha Swank (left) during the 2013 Sony Open.
Photo Credit / Dave Nosti
Jelena Janovic (right) wore a dress designed by ESU’s Samantha Swank (left) during the 2013 Sony Open.
Photo Credit / Dave Nosti

SC Staff Writer

East Stroudsburg University (ESU) student Samantha Swank was the winning designer for Fila’s Facebook design competition to create a dress for a famous tennis player Jelena Jankovic from Serbia, and consequently earned a trip from March 20-23 to the 2013 Sony Open tennis tournament in Miami.

Swank’s mother, Loriann Swank, and her boyfriend, Dave Nosti, flew down to Miami with Swank to accompany her to the tournament. Swank said Nosti acted like her personal “paparazzi” because of all the pictures they took.

The biggest event they attended was Jankovic’s first tennis match, when the dress was revealed for the first time. The game ended up being late at night since the 5 PM game was delayed until 10 PM due to rain.

An announcement was made giving credit for the outfit to Swank. During the course of her time there, she was also given tickets to see the games, one of the dresses she designed, and a free Fila jacket along with a tennis ball.

When Swank met Jankovic, she got the impression that Jankovic was a pleasant person to be around.

Swank described her as “very serious about tennis and an intense player, but she is also really nice, interesting, and even hilarious at times.”

Jankovic told Swank she liked and appreciated the dress. Though she only had to wear it for the game of the official debut, Jankovic chose to wear it for several more games after that.

While Swank admitted she knew basically nothing about tennis beforehand, she was glad to have the opportunity to learn more about how the game works. “I am very happy I now understand tennis better. I now know when to clap and most of what’s going on,” said Swank.

According to Swank, her favorite part of the tournament was “watching how the outfits moved on the players.”

Her passion for the fashion industry motivated her to get an associate’s degree in fashion at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, which she has now completed as of spring 2012.

She is currently an ESU junior studying a degree in Communications, Public Relations (PR) track, and hopes to combine PR and fashion in her future career.

Swank heard about the Fila fashion contest during her last few weeks at the Art Institute of Philadelphia at the end of spring 2012.

At first, she was not even sure if she should apply because she was overwhelmed with all her final projects for school. The day of the deadline, Swank submitted her design to Fila. She was glad she did so.

“It made me more confident in my ability to make clothes people like,” said Swank. Many people complemented the dress.

The process of being selected as the winner included receiving a phone call, one month after her design submission, saying she was chosen as a finalist. She then had to present her design to a board of Fila members in New York City.

The same weekend that she presented, Swank was informed that she was the official winner. Several managers took her out to eat to further discuss her dress design.

Later on, she returned again several times to assist with the making of the dress. Swank remarked that many details went into the design and even picking the right shade of pink was a challenge.

Swank designed the dress a pink color that blurred into a white border because she wanted the color to be “bright, young-looking, and fun.” Swank felt like pink was an appropriate color to represent Miami.

The back of the dress was designed with lines similar to the human spine. Part of Swank’s idea came from her father being a chiropractic neurologist.

He, however, is not Swank’s only inspiration. Her grandparents were involved in the sewing industry and the way her grandmother transformed fabric into clothes for her doll always fascinated Swank.

Ralph Rucci, a famous artist and fashion designer, is another role model in Swank’s life. She has seen him talk in Philadelphia and admires his passion.

Inspiration is also found in random items of everyday life for Swank. She finds inspiration from so many different places, even from walking on a sidewalk and seeing the texture and cracks in the concrete.

She discovers patterns, lines, and colors wherever she goes.

One of the reasons Swank said she likes fashion so much is because “it is an expression of oneself.”

Swank said, “Though I design clothing to sell, often the idea comes from something personal. It is an art to me and a way to show who I am.”

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