In May, 21-year-old Tia Adeola will graduate from New York’s Parsons School of Art and Design alongside hundreds of other students who worked tirelessly to walk across that stage. Despite still being in school, the young designer’s clothing line, Slashed by Tia, has been seen on everyone from Gigi Hadid to SZA. Surprisingly, Adeola isn’t be getting her diploma in fashion design — instead she’ll have a degree in culture and media.
Still, over the last two years, Adeola has been recognized by the industry in a way that most fashion students can only dream of. Not only did she participate in a showroom during London Fashion Week put together by the British Fashion Council, she’s had her collections pulled by major stylists like Mimi Cuttrell and has been profiled by numerous magazines. In 2018, she was was named one of Teen Vogue‘s 21 under 21.
Her early success is what makes some people leave fashion school to pursue their career, but Adeola has consistently taken school very seriously. On the phone just three weeks before graduation and two hours before her next class, she was stressed. It was to be expected, of course—it’s finals time, and Parsons has a notoriously rigorous curriculum. “I am excited, but I wish I could just keep going,” she says, laughing into the phone. She admits she actually loves school and her thirst for knowledge in film and history has been what drives her brand.
“Its like a 360-degree approach to art and design, where one thing influences the other,” she explains. It makes sense—not only are her designs inspired by the art and style of the Renaissance, but her film skills have become an integral part of her collections. “Film is something I’ve always been really interested in,” she adds. “It’s cool to be able to learn the technical things in school and then incorporate it into my work.”
Her films are an interesting way to both promote her brand and further her artistic pursuits. “I’ve learned a lot about female directors and the lack of acknowledgement of them,” she explains. “So for me, it’s something else to work towards.”
Like most other soon-to-be graduates, Adeola is working towards the future and has plans to evolve, but not slow down. “I definitely want to incorporate more of myself and my experiences into my work not just an era in history,” she says. “Living in New York and getting older, I’ve gotten more confident and steadfast in what I believe in; I want to let that speak through my designs. After I graduate, I’m not taking a break. I want to make a collection and I want to make an insane film. I want to just keep going.”