Grads in fashion

Several Calvin grads work in fashion in New York City, include Rire Nakapodia and Brooke Konopka-Lagrand


HOMETOWN: Lagos, Nigeria
CURRENT WORK: retail designer for Aéropostale

Take a look at your jeans for a second. Where did you buy them? Hollister? American Eagle? Target? What made you buy them there?

These are questions Rire Nakpodia ’93 thinks about every single day of his work life as a retail designer for the popular clothing brand Aéropostale.

Brands are living, organic things,” he says. “People feel a brand is either who they are or who they aspire to be. That image doesn’t just happen; it’s created, designed.

Though Rire currently works presenting Aéropostale online, previously he worked for New York & Co. doing all aspects of retail design—store windows, websites, print ads, packaging, logos and label design. He appreciates being able to draw people to a clothing brand that fits real people.

For his success in the New York fashion world, he credits his art professors at Calvin for giving him a great foundation. “Calvin has the best art teachers. I’ve been to art school here in New York, and I’ve had great professors here, but I really ran into the best art professors for me at Calvin… . All my professors were not only great teachers and mentors, they became good friends.”


MAJOR: English
HOMETOWN: Grand Rapids, Mich.
CURRENT WORK: patternmaker at rag & bone

English major to fashion professional in NYC—how does that even happen? 

It did for Brooke, who describes her Calvin education as “eclectic.” The Calvin classroom was a safe environment in which to think new thoughts, explore unimagined places and ultimately, form a lifelong approach to the world.  

“Professors were a sounding board for what my friends and I were unearthing about the arts, philosophy and religion,” she said.  

Now that Brooke’s found her way into fashion in the big city, she misses what happened in her classes at Calvin.  

“Calvin’s classrooms are intimate, relationally engaged and always delightfully challenging!”


VERGE: fall 2012

First-Year Experience