Entrepreneurship leads graphic design student to New York Fashion Week

Sophie Smith
Sophie Smith, left, at New York Fashion Week event she attended.

When Honors College graphic design student Sophie Smith launched her online clothing storefront on Depop, she wanted to meet a niche of the market: alternative 90s clothes. Little did she know that by fulfilling that need, she would land up in New York City for the world-renowned New York Fashion Week.

Depop, a marketplace for creatives and their unique creations, is an outlet for Smith’s creative fashion expression, but it is also a method by which she can use her skills gained from her studies at Radford University to showcase her fashion work.

“I was able to grow my shop over the past year when my talents and skills from my graphic design classes were advancing,” Smith said. “I think that definitely helped, because I was able to learn more knowledge about cameras, backdrops, lighting, posing and other things through photography classes I had been taking.”

Her storefront on Depop has been a creative outlet for techniques and styles, as Smith has created her own branding, logos – essentially everything associated with her storefront.

“I get to apply my classes in my life through something I enjoy,” Smith said. “I'm able to just completely adapt any sort of logos or looks that I want my shop to have at any time. I don't have to hire someone. I can go with different themes or trends that are happening elsewhere.”

In recognition of her skills and creativity in opening her Depop shop, she wound up winning a competition through Depop itself that landed her a firsthand experience at New York Fashion Week.

“It was just incredible,” Smith said. “Seeing originality in these really quirky, out there designs in the runway show was just fascinating. I was directly involved with the platform that I sell for and met a bunch of other big sellers on the platform.”

During the three-day adventure, Smith was able to partake in thrift shopping to boost her storefront, meet up with other Depop shop runners and, of course, attend the popular New York Fashion Week events.

“The experience is something that I will take with me into my courses at Radford University,” Smith said. “I was able to see different sub-cultures firsthand, which is invaluable to me as a graphic designer and as an operator of a clothing outlet.”

The Tazewell, Virginia, native also took sustainable practices into the creation of her avant-garde storefront that features goth, alternative and punk clothing.

“I have secondhand, sustainability-oriented clothing that comes from secondhand resellers,” Smith said. “It’s all about how you showcase it. Just posting a picture of something online is not that great. But, if you use a nice backdrop, you can really bring out certain elements. For example, I'll wear undershirts and jewelry pieces - things that bring the style of the outfit together to show people how it can be worn.”

Smith’s fashion line has taken off – and in no small part because of the opportunities available Radford University and through the support of professors and the Radford family.

Sep 27, 2019
Max Esterhuizen