by Caitlin Rounds
Photos by Jasmy Liu
22-year-old Chukwunonso “Chuk” Chidume is a first-generation Nigerian-American and an aspiring fashion influencer. Chidume recently graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in Apparel Design.
According to Chidume, his interest in the fashion industry began at a young age, “Fashion has been something I’ve been obsessed with since I was 6 years old, and there’s no other industry I could ever imagine myself in. This is a part of my DNA.”
Although the fashion industry has always been on his radar, Chidume originally attended college with the intent to become an OBGYN. According to Chidume, he strayed from the traditional route Nigerian parents typically expect of their children. Pursuing fashion was a risk for Chidume, as he feared his choice to pursue art rather than medicine would disappoint his family. However, he quickly learned his family’s feelings toward his choice are quite the contrary. Chidume says his mother’s positive attitude and support towards his senior collection gave him a sense of validation that the risk he took paid off.
In the fall of 2017, Chidume moved to New York to intern with designers, Adam Selman and Prabal Gurung. “It was a life changing experience that just solidified that this is the right industry for me. I’ve been a huge fan of Adam’s work for years, and being able to see his design process from start to finish is something unreal,” Chidume said of the experience. In addition to being Chidume’s mentor, Selman has also been a source of inspiration. Chidume says, “He’s found a way to make every collection on trend while still keeping his aesthetic. Every season you can tell it’s the same girl that Adam is dressing, and it’s amazing.”
Selman’s designs have a huge role in influencing Chidume’s designs. However, as a Nigerian-American, Chidume says his biggest fashion inspirations come from his culture. “The rich fabrics and colors worn by Africans are just so beautiful. I’d be dumb not to be inspired by that,” says Chidume. He incorporates numerous African patterns and fabrics into the lines he designs. He blends traditional African styles and shapes with street style.
As a designer, aesthetics contribute to Chidume’s admiration for fashion, but his love for the art also takes an activist approach. Chidume wants to use his talents to make a difference in society as well as the goodwill of the planet.
“Fashion has inspired me to make a difference. I feel like regardless of what industry you’re in, you should be trying to leave a positive mark on this world. I plan on doing that by taking sustainability into consideration when I create. There’s so much waste in the fashion industry due to fast fashion and changing trends, and I want to make sure I don’t add to that. It will be difficult but I think it’s very possible to stay on trend and create looks that will be timeless. That’s my goal as a designer.” – Chuk Chidume
Currently, Chidume is self-employed. He’s taking some time to pinpoint his design aesthetic and grow as an artist. As for the future, Chidume has hopes of getting his PHD and beginning his career as a fashion professor. Although he enjoys creating artistic content he feels that his calling is to help the next generation of artists find their voice. •
An Austin, Texas native and published photographer, Caitlin Rounds is a second year Public Relations major. This is her first semester writing for Spark Magazine. She enjoys trying new coffee shops, music and portrait photography.