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Course helps complete the circle for entrepreneurial fashion student

A fashion design student from Nottingham Trent University has set up his own label and has already seen his clothing worn by a premier club footballer.

A fashion design student from Nottingham Trent University has set up his own label and has already seen his clothing worn by a Premier League footballer.

Dan Smith, 21, started his label Unconnected in January 2013 when he began studying at Nottingham Trent University. He used black and white photographs he had taken to create T-shirt designs which were then printed on to tops.

This early photography work caught the eye of Sunderland footballer Connor Wickham who was spotted wearing one of Dan’s designs.

“I’m into my football and sent Connor Wickham a message on Twitter asking him to check out my clothing and the next thing I knew I had an order in from him and then he tweeted a picture of himself wearing one of my New York designs,” explained Dan, who is studying Fashion Design.

Dan initially started selling the t-shirts through the Asos Marketplace website and when interest grew, he enlisted the help of his girlfriend, who was studying Graphic Design at Nottingham Trent University, to design a website, on which to sell his product.

As the popularity grew, Dan, originally from Wakefield, began to develop his designs using skills he learned on his course at Nottingham Trent University.

“I learned more about the process of design which allowed me to develop and move away from printing onto existing t-shirts and onto focusing on the cut of the tops themselves. Now I design the tops from scratch and supply those patterns and the fabric to a company in Nottingham which makes the t-shirts for me,” he said.

Dan developed a range based on a simple black and white palette with an unconnected circle design on the front. “The newer designs sold better and I had more brand identity,” said Dan. Newer ranges build on the Unconnected brand with the simple black and white designs and use of logo.

Dan said the entrepreneurial experience is helping his course and vice versa.

“I’ve recently worked on a project at University which had to be very commercial so I was able to bring experiences about what would sell to the team I was working with,” he explained.

It is something his senior lecturer, Susan Walton, agrees with.

She said: “As a student Dan always presents a strong determination to succeed in all he undertakes within the course and his entrepreneurial approach gives him a valuable edge in taking his ideas forward and allows him to set these ideas within a business context. He is an inspiration to his cohort and the launch of his own brand evidences a genuine achievement in what is a fiercely competitive environment. The skills, knowledge and experience gained from his engagement in this course will undoubtedly support him in making a success of his current and future business ventures.”

Now in his second year of the fashion design course at Nottingham Trent University, Dan, who received advice from the Hive – the University’s purpose-built centre for entrepreneurship and enterprise - is talking to several stores across the country and in the Broadmarsh Centre in Nottingham about stocking his clothing.

He also ran a pop-up shop in the Broadmarsh for a month which saw particular success during the busy Christmas period. In addition, Dan received a grant from the Hive to support his business growth under the Nottingham City Council 'Inspired in Nottingham' scheme.

Phil Clarke from the Hive said: “Dan has shown great entrepreneurial spirit and it has been a pleasure to be able provide him with business advice and support. We wish him all the success for Unconnected in the future.”

  • Notes for editors

    Further details about Unconnected are available on the website and via the social media pages
    Facebook- Unconnected
    Instagram- @unconnectedclothing
    Twitter- @unconnectedtees

    Attached are images of Dan’s latest collection – taken by 2nd Year NTU photography student Joanne Lister of model Ryan George (also 2nd Year photography student at NTU), please credit if used.

Course helps complete the circle for entrepreneurial fashion student

Published on 13 January 2015
  • Category: Press office; School of Art & Design

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