Fashion school can be a dream. And when it comes with a five-digit cash prize, it becomes the ultimate fantasy. Enter Anissa Gomez, a 20-year old SoFA Design Institute undergrad who made it her reality by joining Nips’ T-shirt design competition in collaboration with SoFA.
What made you join Nips’ T-shirt design contest?
I learned to always say yes to every opportunity in SoFA. Whenever an opportunity for internships or competitions comes along, I’d always go for it because you never know what doors it’ll open for you in the future. If I never tried joining this competition, I wouldn’t be here right now.
And how was the whole experience like?
It was overwhelming [but] I got to learn how an entrepreneur worked. There was a time when I had to go to Divisoria three days in a row because there was something wrong with the manufacturing. And now that I’ve had a taste of being an entrepreneur, I can officially say that I’m ready. Bring it on, fashion!
Who inspires you the most in fashion?
I aspire to be as creative and innovative as Iris Van Harpen and Hussein Chalayan. I love the way they think—incredibly unique and outstanding. Some of the materials Iris uses to make her garments—you wouldn’t even associate with fashion. Hussein's transformations are insane! When I watch his shows, my jaw is on the floor half of the time. It’s amazing.
Was a pack of Nips as inspiration a challenge for you?
The best thing about Nips is the feeling of comfort that comes with it. When I think of it, the first words that pop into my head are color, joy, youth, and family. I always made sure that I was going in that direction.
My shirt design was inspired by mosaics and a photo I captured from this year’s Mother’s Day. We went on a trek to Feather Falls, California. It wasn’t easy, but each small step we took came together and lead us to a great breathtaking view—just like how I used each piece of Nips to create a bigger image. I wanted the shirt to have the effect of utter chaos up close, but have the clear image of a sunset amidst the mountains, creating a mosaic and pointillism-like effect to the viewers’ eyes.
During your presentation, we saw you styled your tees with a lot of utilitarian-inspired pieces. Does that define your style?
Since my T-shirt design had a sunset theme, my styling concept was to put it against the dark sky. I had the models wear a lot of black to emulate that so that the shirts themselves would be the center of attention—and I love black.
My designs are also more functional than they seem. The backpack [from my presentation] turns into a jacket, and the skirt can fit an extra small to an extra large. They’re innovative, eye-catching, and relatable, just like Nips.
This interview has been edited and condensed.