RIT Dubai alumni turn their talents to creative design in midst of global pandemic

In a departure from the traditional career paths linked to their business and engineering degrees, two graduates from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai have redeployed their university education to pursue their lifelong passion for professional fashion design.

Mechanical Engineering student, Osama Mootassem, and Business Management major, Chrystel Anne Clasicas, graduated from RIT Dubai in 2018 and have since gone on to establish their own unique fashion labels, launching their brands in the height of the global pandemic.

Despite their departure from the career paths expected of them when they graduated, Osama and Chrystel Anne both believe that their university experience helped to get them to where they are today.

For Chrystel Anne, her business education gave her a real world understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur, while Osama concludes, “It was my extracurricular activities, including director of events in the student government, that taught me skills like organization, team work and project management that I now use day-to-day. RIT allowed me the room to explore myself and that is a part of what shaped me as an individual, and now here I am years later with my own clothing brand.”

Osama describes his clothing brand, nvr frgttn, as fashionable street wear with a twist. He explains, “My brand is focussed on inclusivity and diversity, inspired by my surroundings growing up in Abu Dhabi. The short term goal is to provide absolutely anyone with fashion that will make them feel both confident and comfortable. My long term goal is to develop my brand into a platform large enough to showcase up and coming talent.”

Chrystel Anne took her inspiration in part from her undergraduate studies at RIT Dubai. She reveals, “It was during my third year entrepreneurship class that the idea of launching a label first arose. We had to develop a business plan as part of the course and it was natural for me to pursue something fashion-related as I’ve been tailoring clothes for family and friends for years.” After her graduation, Chrystel Anne won a scholarship to the College of Fashion and Design in Dubai where she surprised her peers with the commercial knowledge that she brought from her previous studies in business. In 2020, undeterred by the onset of the pandemic, she launched her label, Chrystel Anne Fashion, which she describes as zero waste, body-positive luxury bespoke design. Making an immediate impact on the international stage, Chrystel Anne saw 15 of her pieces unveiled at New York Fashion Week in February, and will showcase more of her designs at the next edition of the event later this year.