For this week’s edition of ASW, I spoke with my social psychology of Clothing professor, Nan Turner. I chose to interview this Davis design alumna because she has a great eye for putting outfits together and comes to class each day looking very professional and chic. Before pursuing a career in education, Turner designed for major companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Liz Claiborne and Ellen Tracy. I asked if she would share some of her insights into the clothing and textiles industry.
Can you tell me a little bit about what you chose to wear today?
I tried to dress French because I had my informational meeting for the study abroad trip that I am leading in Paris this summer. [I chose this] horizontally striped shirt. [It is reminiscent of] French sailors.
What made you decide to pursue a career in fashion?
I was very interested in fashion [at] a young age. I started sewing, knitting and crocheting when I was young; my parents encouraged me to pursue what I loved. I remember going to the Nepenthe restaurant in Big Sur with my family and being influenced by the Kaffe Fassett collection. She was a decorative arts designer, specializing in needle point and quilting, [and she] owned Nepenthe. Some of the featured designers I saw at Nepenthe were Zandra Rhodes, Ossie Clark, Jean Muir and Bill Gibb.
What advice do you have for someone interested in pursuing a career in fashion?
My number one piece of advice is to have a back-up plan. It is a very competitive industry. Many of us, while working in fashion, fantasized about the day we could get out of the industry. [If you are truly set on a career in fashion], explore your options. Many young people aspire to be designers, because that’s what they see on TV — but there are other positions that are more secure.
You mentioned your study abroad trip to Paris — could you tell me a little more about it?
Paris is the fashion capital of the world. My program deals with fashion marketing. [It will be interesting for students to see] the differences in the French approach to fashion marketing versus the American approach. There will be many field trips as well.
Can you tell me about your other interests?
I am a member of the Art Deco Society. We are a preservationist group. I attend many functions where I get to dress up in vintage-style clothing.
Where do you like to shop for your vintage clothing?
A lot of it is actually given to me! My friends know that I am interested in vintage fashion and that I will put it to good use.
How do you communicate to others who you are through daily dress?
I am a design professional and an educator. I try to show that and keep my students interested and awake in class by wearing something new everyday.
Aggie Style Watch would like to thank Nan Turner for sharing her experiences in the fashion industry and for her pragmatic advice for students interested in pursuing a career in fashion.
Graphic by The California Aggie Graphics
Photos by Julia Kinkela