This afternoon, Gok Wan spoke to a full crowd about his 22 years in the fashion industry as a stylist and designer. He spoke about his love of Graduate Fashion Week, and the energy and the raw talent that comes out of it – particularly since one person you may walk past could be influencing what everyone’s wearing in a couple of years.
It certainly was not a smooth road for Gok, he started out at drama school but then left after 12 months and worked in a couple of jobs until he started as a make-up artist. Through this work, he met Carol Heyes (who is now his manager), and she sent him to work with stylist Linda Leeming. One day, Linda’s assistant failed to turn up, so Gok was asked to assist her. It was then that Gok had his fashion calling. Since then, he has been known of one of the country’s most well-known stylists, presented his own TV show and now works with Tu at Sainsbury's as a brand ambassador and designer.
When asked for his advice, he talked about the importance of building confidence and self-belief. You’ve got to be hungry for a job, especially if it’s one that gives you a massive sense of excitement and makes you feel alive. For the start of his career journey, he was unsure and unguided, but always trusted his instincts. As the talk came to an end, he was asked the ever-important question of what he might have told his 16-year-old self? His answer and advice to our graduates was to take risks, and embrace being afraid because the fear will get you a long way.
Words by Hannah Stacpoole