by John Russel Jones

Over the next four months, MetroPlusHealth, New York City’s affordable health plan, is partnering with the Fashion Institute of Technology on a uniform redesign competition as part of its New York City rebrand. This partnership will make MetroPlusHealth the first health plan to ever collaborate with FIT and NYC while giving students the opportunity to design uniforms as diverse as the great city it serves.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, MetroPlusHealth’s front-line workers have worked in and with communities throughout New York City. Employees work in all-weather elements (sun, rain, snow, etc.), both indoors and outdoors. The uniforms must be durable, culturally sensitive, comfortable, and trendy, and represent the MetroPlusHealth brand.

To participate in this competition, FIT students must be enrolled in their 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th semester of the FIT Fashion Design program or their 7th semester of the Technical Design/Patternmaking program, in the Fall 2022 academic semester. They will submit mood boards and digital sketches to Professor Michael Kaye of the Fashion Design Department at FIT in early October.

The top five designs will be featured on a website where MetroPlusHealth employees, FIT NYC students, and the public will vote on the best design. There will be four category winners: traveling transporters (drivers, porters, and community center support), street savers (community engagement and outreach), community connectors (community navigator and insurance enrollment), and the voice (call center support). Each winner will receive $5,000 per category, and the honorable mention winner will receive $1,000.

“Over the past year, we have been working with New Yorkers to inform our rebrand. We asked community members what they wanted to see in a health plan, and the people have spoken. New Yorkers want care that is distinctively New York and puts people over profit. Just like MetroPlusHealth and the great City we serve, the unconventional minds of FIT students will bring our bold vision to reality,” said Ken Louie, Senior Director of Brand Marketing and Communications at MetroPlusHealth. “MetroPlusHealth teammates are everywhere in the five boroughs, and we want to ensure that our brand is as New Yorker as it gets because that’s who we are.”

“There is no greater sense of accomplishment for FIT fashion design students than to be given the opportunity to express their design sensibilities and abilities through an open contest call for a great organization like MetroPlusHealth,” said Kaye. “What a fantastic showcase for the winning uniform designs: To be produced and worn proudly by the MetroPlusHealth workforce.”