Vivian Efue

Vivian Efue

Senior Knitwear Designer at Tom Ford


Can you tell me how you got started in your field?
‘My tutor on my foundation course suggested I look into knitwear design degrees. After completing a four-year program at the Nottingham Trent University, I was offered an Assistant Knitwear Designer position in New York for a private label company. Moving to NY from London at the age of 23 was quite a fearless move for me as I was literally on a flight there just three weeks after my initial interview.’

Name three things that have defined your career
‘I would say the first thing that defined my career was my initial move to New York and staying there close to seven years. Working there taught me discipline, precision, organisation and being able to work to very tight, gruelling deadlines. The second was the decision I made to leave my job in New York and take the chance to move into a European luxury market. I landed a role at Pringle of Scotland, however I was made redundant after almost four years when business had taken a turn for the worse and the company was drastically scaling back. At the time it was a shock and quite unnerving, however, it actually opened the door to my current role working for Tom Ford, and that move into high-end luxury was the third thing that has defined my career.’

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
‘My biggest highlight was seeing Michelle Obama wearing one of my pieces on two separate occasions.’

What is the biggest factor that has helped your success?
‘Being very organised and staying well-informed on the market. Also being a team player and motivator.’

What challenges have you faced in your career?
‘I think the toughest times were taking the decision to leave a company and teams I loved and moving to another company – letting go of comfortable situations and positions. Also, when there were downturns in the economy and colleagues, who had become friends, ended up losing their jobs.’

What is the most important risk you have taken?
‘My biggest risk was taking the decision to leave New York at the time when the company was processing my Green Card. I had many people tell me to wait it out, but that meant staying at least another three years. I took a leap of faith and it was the best thing I could have done.’

Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up?
‘The closest I came to just throwing in the towel and moving back to London from LA was after I was recently furloughed during the pandemic. My work visa was expiring and there was a period when I felt abandoned – and of course I had a heightened sense of fear with the virus and all of its unknowns. I had to make a decision to either fight to remain with less than one month left for renewal or pack up and go back. My boyfriend was very supportive during this time and we both made the choice not to give in to panic and fear. My furlough was shortened from four months to just five weeks and my visa extension was processed. Things worked out, but it was a very stressful and unnerving time.’

How do you see growth? What does it look like for you in the different stages of your career?
‘Growth for me has changed its face over the years. Initially growth was moving up in title and responsibilities. Recent growth has been training and mentoring my assistants or junior designers on the team and seeing them thrive and succeed as they move on to other companies.’

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
‘The one thing I never did was work in Paris, although I don’t know what job I would have sacrificed to be able to do that.’

How do you manifest creativity in your role?
‘By constantly looking at new creatives; inspiring, motivating and pushing juniors; and keeping updated on new techniques and developments.’

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
‘Work on your shyness, blow your own trumpet more and celebrate achievements.’

What does greatness look like?
‘Hard work, executed well and seeing it succeed.’


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