Dropping out of college doesn’t sound like a good idea, but for 17 year-old Nurdan it’s a chance to start a new chapter in her quest for a fashion career.
FAD catches up with the East London teen to talk about the Fashion Futures final, and why she thinks the industry is at risk of becoming elitist.
Where and what are you studying at the moment?
“Last year I was at City & Islington College. I was studying AS level Textiles, Art, History and English, but I dropped out so I could attend the Fashion Retail Academy (FRA) at Oxford Street instead. I’m starting a Fashion Design Level 3 course there in September.”
That’s quite a brave move. Why did you drop out of college?
“I studied textiles at AS level and I just thought that’s what I really want to do. I decided to change and apply for FRA, so I could focus on one course that is going to help me towards the career I really want.”
What have you learnt about yourself doing FAD?
“I’m not good at sewing! I’ve learnt I can design something quite complex, and I can do anything once I put my mind to something. I’m quite an ambitious person and I believe that FAD is opening up doors for me. When I first started FAD, I wasn’t as confident as I am now. I’m still not as confident as I should be, but it’s getting better. I believe in myself more now.
FAD is good hard work and I need that in my life. It makes me better at what I do. It’s been stressful but in a good way. I think you need stress in your life to know whether you really want something. Doing FAD has allowed me to spend time doing something I really love.”
Tell us more about your garment for London Fashion Week?
“I wanted to create something that looks simple, but is actually quite complicated, structured and technical. I started looking at different ways of folding paper, and I got inspired by Geisha and how they folded fabrics to create garments. I looked at the book ‘Pattern Magic’, and at the Japanese art form of folding fabric. The FAD tutor Hannah helped me bring it all to life – she showed me how to take it from paper to 3D.”
What do you think of organisations like FAD, and sponsors George at Asda, who provide these opportunities?
“I believe FAD is such an amazing organisation. At first I thought “I bet it’s not all that – it’s going to be OK, but I won’t get anything out of it”. But FAD does actually help you. You learn so much and you get a lot out of their courses. Other courses are too short, they give you a quick insight but they don’t let you experience what it’s actually like in industry. With FAD I’m always looking forward to the next stage.”
A lot of people are skeptical about the importance of creative education. Can you tell us why you personally need this opportunity?
“My background is quite artistic and I’ve always wanted to do something creative, but it’s really hard. Fashion design is really difficult. Living in East London, I’ve always had people downgrading me, saying “you will never get there”, “you will never be able to do this”. I’ve always had people tell me I’m not as good as other people because of where I live, how much money my family earns etc.
So I decided I wanted to go to somewhere in central London, to the FRA, so I could wipe back history and start something new. I think you need something more than money to make it. I feel like I’ve found my passion. Doing FAD; I need this to feel confident and to prove to myself I can do something if I put my mind to it.”
You talk a lot about money. Do you think not having money is a problem for young people wanting a creative career?
“Yes, it is an obstacle. I’ve always felt like I want to do bigger things but money has restricted me. For example there are courses at some London universities which are like £400 for a week. It’s too much for any child, any parent. Paying so much for opportunities makes you think that some designers are just designers because of their money, and not because of their talent. I just think that’s not right. People should be able to express themselves and get somewhere in life without the need for lots of money.”
Lastly what have you enjoyed most about doing Fashion Futures?
“Feeling like I’ve accomplished something so big. At my age to have that chance to show at London Fashion Week is a really big thing. My family and my Mum are really proud of me, and I feel like I have to do my best for her.”
Nurdan is one of twenty finalists who will showcase their designs on the London Fashion Week catwalk in September. Read more inspiring interviews with the Fashion Futures teens here. This FAD Story is made possible thanks to sponsorship from George at Asda.