Graduating from the University for the Creative Arts, Rochester, in the United Kingdom with the first class in Fashion Design, Nabila Kwande, is ready to explore the fashion industry, writes Vanessa Obioha
From a young age, 23-year-old Nabila Kwande evinced an interest in arts. She loved making dresses with her mother who is a fashion designer. While her mother made dresses for humans, the Plateau State artist settled for her dolls, creating fancy Cinderella dresses for her toy.
It was more than a pastime for her. Watching her mother needle and thread business expanded her interest in the craft such that she was convinced that fashion was her true calling. But when it was time to settle for a career, it wasn’t her first choice.
“At first, I felt I didn’t need to study fashion since my mother owned a fashion school and I learnt a lot from her. I planned to study architecture because I also have an interest in it. But on second thought, I decided to study Fashion Design so I could learn it properly and I felt having a fashion degree would give me an upper hand in the industry,” she tells THISDAY.
Her academic journey in fashion started with a foundation class in Art, Design and Media at The University For the Creative Arts Farnham, in the United Kingdom for a year before enrolling for a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design at the University For the Creative Arts Rochester, where she recently graduated with a first class honour.
Kwande never envisioned herself coming tops in class due to the hiccups she faced studying the course. She described the journey to her academic success as a long and tiring road. At a point, she considered throwing in the towel.
“I had a couple of bad days where I got tired and wanted to give up. I broke down a few times due to stress. I procrastinated a lot and had many sleepless nights. Sometimes, I asked myself why I chose this path, but then I couldn’t imagine studying anything else,” she recalled.
Despite the peaks and valleys, she remained steadfast in her studies.
She added, “I always made sure I never missed a deadline, even if I had to stay up all night due to procrastination, I always get my work done. Unfortunately, I ended up missing one of my deadlines due to unforeseen circumstances and I thought the world was going to end. Luckily, I was able to make up for it.”
As if her latest achievement felt like a dream, she admitted: “To be honest, I knew I had worked hard but I expected to graduate with a lower grade.”
For her final project, she made a collection of outfits that focused on sustainability and her Nigerian heritage.
“I used a zero-waste pattern making approach and all my garments were created from squares and rectangles. I also used different details that were inspired by The Nigerian traditional way of dressing. I created my own fabric prints by dyeing 100 percent linen in indigo dye.”
With her latest feat, Kwande is poised to explore the fashion industry. But first, she said people need to appreciate and realise the relevance of the fashion industry.
She explained, “I feel we are not really taught to express our creativity as much in Nigeria, but I believe we will get there someday because we have so much potential. There is much appreciation for our art and culture in the UK. They appreciate the uniqueness and incorporate it into their works. Generally, I think we have so much to catch up on.”
For the Nigerian fashion industry to gain wider attention, Kwande believes that the textile industry must be revamped.
“It’s one area that we need to work on,” she acknowledged. “We need to encourage local production of our fabrics and it must be of high quality.”