Sola Olowo-Ake
I would recommend fashion design because there is room for you to explore what you like, and it is flexible enough for you to focus on things you hope to achieve as a designer.

More about Sola

What made you choose to study at NTU?
“I found out about NTU through Kaplan and after browsing through the website, I just fell in love with it. Apart from the fact that NTU was already known for its reputable fashion design course, I think I was drawn to the fact that it emphasised learning in small environments.”

What do you enjoy most about your course?
“I enjoy concept creation for my projects, pattern cutting, and manufacturing the garments I have designed. I also really enjoy the writing part of my degree. My Design, Culture and Context module allowed me to explore my passion for fashion writing.”

Has the course included any live projects or briefs that you really enjoyed?
“In my second year, we did a live project with River Island designing their Autumn/Winter menswear collection. It was a really interesting process to experience, and we learnt so much in that period. The bit I really enjoyed was putting the final garments together. We also got to plan a big fashion show that River Island attended, which I enjoyed organising with my course mates.”

Has the course included any industry competitions that you really enjoyed?
“Towards the end of my second year, we had a competition brief from Linda Leaver which centred on designing for mobility-impaired people. It was enlightening and challenging because while doing it, I realised that it was such a niche area and not many people in the fashion industry pay attention to it. We had to do a lot of problem solving and think about functionality.”

Has the course included any speakers / lecturers from industry?
“In my first year, I attended a lecture by fashion artist Jo Cope, and it was so exciting to see how a background in fashion could evolve into something entirely different, led by passion and concepts.”

What do you think about the course staff?
“We get a lot of support from tutors and I never expected that I would meet people who genuinely cared about my fashion design interests. They are definitely keen on training you to be industry-ready. The technical staff are well experienced in their different fields, and you can also share your ideas with technicians on other design courses if you’re aiming to experiment outside your field. The subject administrator is also very helpful in terms of other things you might need from the university. For example, transcript requests, student letters, and more.”

How do you find your course and University-wide facilities?
“The library is so helpful because it has a range of books that you would never think existed, and that comes in handy when preparing for essays. It also has Vogue catalogues from the 1900s which is good for image research. We also have industrial sewing machines that we use to make garments, which sets you up for the workplace.”

As an international student, what do you like about studying and living in Nottingham?
“I love the fact that Nottingham is small. It is easy to get to places and it feels like a big community. Nottingham also has great restaurants and art galleries.”

Why would you recommend your course / NTU to someone looking to study BA (Hons) Fashion Design?
“I would recommend fashion design because there is room for you to explore what you like, and it is flexible enough for you to focus on things you hope to achieve as a designer. I feel like NTU has a lot to offer as well – there are so many societies you can join to explore other areas of life you might be interested in outside your course.”

Have you completed any work placements?
“Over the summer, I participated in NTU’s grad scheme called Grads4Nottm. This was a good opportunity for me to network with people in the industry. I worked at Nottingham-based fashion brand, Glitch Anomaly, where I worked within a team to develop products for the brand. It was a good environment to work in, because I design clothes. We also had a finale event hosted by the University where we got to present our work, meet more employers and see other students’ work.

“After that, I worked at The Dress Place in Hockley, which was also a good environment to work in. It was more clothing related, and I learnt a lot about bridal fashion, from fittings, to beading, to the finishing touches.”

How different is it studying in the UK compared to Nigeria?
“In Nigeria, it is quite rare to study fashion design as most people tend to study other courses such as accounting, medicine, law, engineering, and so on. Coming to the UK was what I needed to get a degree in fashion. I guess the difference is that here, there is a lot of emphasis on studying in small groups as this helps tutors give feedback that is more constructive. From my experience, I would say that education in the UK is quite flexible. You could study almost anything, and be trained to be an expert in what you do.”

How was your experience at Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC)?
“I enjoyed my foundation year, mainly because I had great tutors. They were really invested in us as students, and they helped a lot. My tutors always referred to university-standard work, and that provided a foundation for my own projects. I also got a lot of support with my visa application.”

Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
“In the next five years, I hope to be pursuing a career as a fashion writer or a fashion artist, telling relevant stories through my work.”

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