This week we headed to the TOPMAN HQ to find out how FAD finalist Nneka Okorie was getting on as the new intern!
You may have seen Nnekas’ designs on the front cover of the official graduate fashion week newspaper last week. She’s an inspiring and enthusiastic girl with bags of talent and creative spirit. Nneka was the runner up of Fashion Futures 2013, winning an internship with high street fashion brand TOPMAN. We joined Nneka at the London head quarters to find out what she’s been getting up to in her new role.
So give us an insight into what a normal day at TOPMAN involves?
Well I start by doing some research, I look at trends, things like over sized shirts and skinny jeans. I then research Topmans’ big sellers, there’s one called the ‘swallow print’, which was a motif on a dark background so we have to look into how we could re launch that again, and what colours and animal prints could be used. How we could adapt it for different seasons.
Once I’ve done that I do a lot of cutting out for samples and that’s all done in the cutting rooms. Then I normally go to Cloth House in Soho and look at fabrics for samples… So it’s all very hands on and running around! It’s been different everyday but always hands on!
What’s inspired you most while being here?
I’ve just come out of some fittings today and I actually really liked it. I always love seeing designs in 3D form and seeing it on a person. You talk about making adjustments, for example, if you want to move a button or we don’t like that stitching, we decide what colour it should be. It’s those kind of small finishes that can either make an outfit classy or awful. It was very inspiring to hear what they’d change about things.
And has that influenced the way you are going to design in the future?
It will make me think about detail more, yes. It will make me think about which bits go where and I always care about detail but because they do it all the time here it’s given me more of an insight into what to look out for and what makes men buy what they want to buy.
Why did you choose to go into men’s wear rather then women’s?
I was practically a boy growing up anyway! I was always kicking about wearing casual clothes and I remember being at school and boys asking me about their outfits and I enjoyed giving them advice and I liked dressing guys up and being like, yes, you look dapper! Knowing I’d imprinted my style on them.
What advice have you gained since being at TOPMAN?
Attention to detail. Looking at what the men in the office are wearing and thinking would they wear the clothes that I’m designing? How can I adapt it for the “every” man?
So next week you are heading back to Manchester for a catwalk?
Yes we are just re showing graduate collections after GFW but its just a big celebration with everyone in the year to show all the work we’ve done. So it should be really exciting to do it all over again, it’ll be really fun.
So what’s next, what your future plans?
I’m going to do a two year MA at RCA, (Royal College of Art) and take it from there.
And finally, what advice would you give other interns or to anyone who’s looking to become an intern in the future?
Be nice! If someone asks you to do something, just smile and say yes. Just be really positive, really nice and think about what you can do for them. Are you going to helpful, polite and give your time? Just make the most of it and be enthusiastic.