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So, you want to be a fashion designer? Here are some lessons and tips from Monica Leviste, the Academic Chairperson for Fashion at SoFA Design Institute, and Anissa Gomez, a third-year student taking up BA Fashion Design and Marketing in SoFA Design Institute and winner of the recently concluded Nips Pop Fest T-Shirt Design Contest:
1. It starts with that "spark."
Maybe it started when you watched that reality runway show, or maybe you were drawn to fashion while you were studying like Anissa.
She recalls, "In the States, I attended a performing and fine arts academy high school, where I concentrated in drawing and painting. Once, we were supposed to research for a form of illustration we were interested in, that’s when I found fashion illustration and completely fell in love with it. I began researching more on designers and saw how they used fabric as a medium of sculpting and creating art. From then on I knew I wanted to be a designer who treated clothing like an art form."
2. You must be willing to experiment or even go crazy.
You won't get to the top when you don't stray from your comfort zone or if you limit yourself to rules. "As a designer I live off of experimentation," says Anissa. "I enjoy finding new ways to make things and creating something that makes people wonder how you made it. I love working with my hands whether it’s with sewing, drawing, or painting. My hands always have a trace of some sort of medium left behind."
She adds, "It’s okay to go crazy with your designs, but it’s also important to know your limits, make sure it’s relatable to the people even if it’s something completely outrageous. One of my professors calls me crazy, but it’s really a compliment… I think. I’d rather be crazy than boring."
3. You must know your personal aesthetic... And you won't always have just one.
Take it from the young designer who's right there with you: "A challenge I faced when I was first starting out and even up until now is figuring out my aesthetic. It’s hard for me to narrow down what I really want my designs to represent and who I am as a designer because I’m interested in so many things. I’m into avant-garde, innovative and multi-purpose designs while also being interested in environmentally-friendly fashion, so when a teacher or random person asks me what my aesthetic is, honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out."
4. You can create designs from anything... Even from a bag of candy-coated chocolates.
The strongest emotions can come from the simplest mementos, and the products of that inspiration can be so powerful. In light of the Nips Pop Fest contest, Monica was awed that "through the Nips brand and its different products, our SoFA designers looked to their past for inspiration. When we think of Nips, we remember our childhood and the fun and carefree attitude we had. This sense of happiness, comfort, and nostalgia all came alive in the designs the students presented. It also showed us that there can be inspiration taken from our heritage. Nips has become part of our Filipino persona as it has stood the test of time. To promote what is locally home grown and what is Pinoy is something that our designers must continue to do."
5. You grab opportunities not only to win or excel but more so to learn through experience.
In the Nips’ T-Shirt Design Contest, Anissa got a crash course on the whole deal—from being a head designer to being an entrepreneur. According to her, it also taught her to be resourceful, creative, and headstrong. "The manufacturers kept telling me they couldn’t do the design the way I made it, but with a strong head on my shoulders I was able to produce the shirts the way I envisioned them."
Monica recounts other valuable lessons you can draw from such competitions,
"[It] can teach designers the importance of having a holistic approach in creating a product. First is that the design must be creative, yet at the same time have a direct link and inspiration rooted in the brand. Second, they can learn that it is important for them to put value to the selling aspect of the competition. As designers, we rely on sales and this goes hand in hand with product development in creating a solid business. Third, as technology and the power of digital media advances, designers can also learn that they need to put value on how their product will be received on social media."
6. It's not all "glitz and glamor."
When asked about her last piece of advice, Monica replied, "I want future designers to know that this field is not just about the glitz and glamor. There is a real process that we go through to give our clients designs that are not only beautiful and functional but innovative as well. Design is involved in almost all the aspects of our lives from the chair we are sitting on to the computer we are using. As part of this design field, we can all contribute to this evolving art form to not just make things beautiful but serve a higher purpose as well."
Watch out for more Nips products that will bring out your playful side, and visit Jack 'n Jill's Facebook page for updates on the upcoming events and promos of Nips.