Grad is a Designer in Residence with the Chicago Fashion Incubator

Grad is a Designer in Residence with the Chicago Fashion Incubator

After moving to the U.S. from Nigeria and spending her formative years in the Midwest, Lola Osire wanted to follow her heart and pursue her dreams of becoming a Fashion Designer. “I also knew [becoming a designer] required a formal education and I was ready to do what needed to be done,” recalls Lola, who still has vivid memories of sketching designs in her elementary school notebooks. “That and reading stories on how the Fashion Design program truly prepares you for work in the industry were all the reasons why I chose FIDM. Getting there and immersing myself in the core program was the hardest I’d ever worked in my life – it was amazing.”   

She studied at the Los Angeles campus where she learned valuable lessons such as getting ahead of her work and staying focused, utilizing the open labs and FIDM Library, applying for internships, and being confident. After graduating in 2013, she moved to Chicago and eventually launched her own collection. “I had a lot of ideas and wanted to share them with the world,” she says. Although she considers Minneapolis her home, Lola's Nigerian roots influence her creative process. “I often think back to the past and replay vivid memories of my mother’s outfits to church, work, and other social events,” Lola says. “The foods, the sights, and sounds of the Nigerian experience is a part of me, so naturally it shows up in my designs.”

Her Chicago-based contemporary womenswear line, Lola Élan, is composed of thoughtfully-designed, made-to-order pieces that blend style and sustainability. “I feel sustainability is the future of fashion – not overconsumption or fast fashion,” says Lola, who is currently working on a seasonless collection that will launch this fall. She is currently in residence at the illustrious Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street, which provides emerging designers with resources and mentoring, for one year. “Like everyone else, we can’t gather in groups to work on our brands because we have to abide by the social distancing rules,” she explains. “As a team, we often have our workshops via Zoom and also work on our individual brands in our studio spaces. Resources are also provided often and we all feel very supported.”

Learn more at and keep up with Lola on Instagram @lolaelanstudio

Categories:  Fashion Design Alumni