By: Jessie Yu
Photos By: Amy Huang
There’s a simple patterned yellow rug in the living room and not much decoration about. Will (MSB ’19) sits on the rug, donning loose grey sweats, a plain-t and a simple chain necklace with black framed glasses. He’s dressed for the part of casual college student.
But as he begins to gesture with his hands and twirl names like Dior, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton so casually, I begin see the houses of fashion floating just above his shoulders. He speaks so smoothly, bringing to life the dresses he designs and the struggle his family has undergone.
Will is from São Paulo, Brazil, and design runs in the veins of his family. Beginning with his grandmother, an immigrant from Korea, almost every member of Will’s family has gone to fashion school, including the in-laws. He jokes that his grandmother made it a requirement to study fashion if they wanted to marry into the family.
A distinct memory of his was walking into his family’s clothing store and asking his father to pass the store down to him. It was that moment that his parents realized he was destined to go into fashion. While his father and grandmother still had hopes that he would pursue medicine or law, Will’s mom taught him how to draw and took him to Paris, England, or wherever it was that she was doing research for her current line.
Will describes fashion as a form of empowerment for the women in his family. “My grandmother was an orphan, just like Chanel. She didn’t receive a lot of education but she was good at one thing – fashion. That gave her an amazing life. Fashion empowers a lot of people, not only women, men as well. They can get confidence out of fashion.”
Nowadays, Will designs for his family’s collections back in Brazil. When he designs, he says he imagines, “this elegant woman. She doesn’t have to be beautiful, but she’s elegant. She’s born with elegance. I think it’s very hard for you to take an elegant woman for granted. You automatically respect her.”
Apart from his personal designing, Will also interned at FashionRoom São Paulo, a luxury clothing showroom. He was full of praise for his mentor, the director Xavier Neto, a well-known figure in the Brazilian fashion scene. He said that Neto took him to every social event and meeting he attended and taught him how to make a collection, behave, and be charismatic.
Coming from the MSB, Will’s job was to do economic analysis for the sales team. He says that the most challenging aspect of his job was the responsibility that it came with. He was in charge of presenting where the budget for the next collection should go.
Post-graduation, Will hopes to continue in fashion and work in Paris or London in a luxury house of fashion. His passion in the field is clear: “I don’t mind if I have to learn for 10 or 15 years, but after that I have to make my own brand.”
And for his brand, he has a very clear vision. He predicts that fast fashion is on the decline as younger generations are becoming more environmentally conscious and pay more attention to human rights violations in the fashion industry. Brands like H&M and Forever 21 are on their way out. His goal is to make sustainable and human rights-conscious women’s wear. After just thirty minutes of talking with Will, one can see that he not only has a keen eye and sharp mind for fashion and business, but that he also has a big heart.
As a final note, Will added, “it’s very important nowadays for people to understand, especially women, that the way they dress is not an invitation for [others] to be aggressive or take them for granted. I think it’s time for people to understand that because a girl is dressed sexually, it’s not an invitation for you to use her. It’s a big problem in Latin American countries, where people are machistas and have that whole culture.”
Will, a constantly smiling, down-to-earth, MSB student breaks Georgetown stereotypes as he brings fashion out of the shadows.
JESSIE YU is a junior in the College, studying international relations with minors in business administration and Chinese. Hailing from New York City, she enjoys what her mom likes to call “grandma hobbies” such as knitting, baking, collaging, enjoying nature, and scaring people. Even so, she considers herself a “cool grandma” who advocates for women’s rights, religious freedom, and environmental conservation.