A lot of professionals, previously flying under the radar of their industries, have turned to reality television competitions as vehicles for visibility, and ultimately launching pads for their careers. The successful, who are often times not necessarily the winners, walk away as familiar names with eyes steadily fixed on their future pursuits. NBC’s “Fashion Star,” a reality tv fashion design competition, is one such show with one such talent, Tori Nichel. Before departing on the show’s March 15th episode, Tori Nichel quickly became known for her fun dresses in bold prints and colors. We had an opportunity to sit with Tori Nichel and find out a little more about her design aesthetic, thoughts on “Fashion Star” (including her predictions for a winner), and what she has planned next.
Check out what she had to say in the interview below!
SB: How has your style as a designer evolved from a graduate to an industry professional to now?
TN: Wow, my style as a designer has definitely evolved. I now have a distinct point of view. I knew I loved designing while in school but I wasn’t sure who I would be ultimately designing for at the time. When I started designing at Kenneth Cole for the ultra cool, urban, downtown woman, my design aesthetic became clearer. I then married that sleek look to Tibi’s flirty color play and that’s how my aesthetic was born. I use to call it “tailored eclectic.” I did not know in school that I was going to become known for my amazing eye for color & prints or my exquisitely tailored jackets & jumpsuits.
SB: What woman do you design for?
TN: I design for the metropolitan woman who loves to stand out in a crowd. I’m known for using bold prints & colors and that’s one of the qualities my customers love about the Tori Nichel dresses in particular. She’s a crowd pleaser for sure. She craves chic and sophisticated clothing that allows her versatility throughout her lifestyle.
SB: Do you think it’s especially harder for black designers to make it in the fashion industry?
TN: I think it’s hard for anyone to make it in the fashion industry. Being in this specialized industry when decisions can often be subjective makes it tough for all parties involved. That aside, in my experience I have found that black males in particular—in the United States—have a tougher time achieving the success equal to their talent in the industry, especially in womenswear.
SB: When you’re not wearing your own designs, who do you like to wear?
TN: If I am not wearing Tori Nichel, these days you can find me in BCBG. Lubov Azria, their Chief Creative Officer, has really taken that brand to the next level. I’m guilty of a good Zara find too. I have a love/hate relationship with Zara because they are just so good. Their business model is phenomenal but it makes my job harder as a designer. To compete with their quality at that price point in the contemporary market is quite a challenge.
SB: What made you decide to participate in a reality fashion competition?
TN: I was attracted to NBC’s Fashion Star’s reality competition because it was business based, similar to how designers and buyers interact in the industry. The premise of the competition was the closest a fashion competition has gotten to reflecting the realities of the fashion industry.