UT alum finds success after graduation at major fashion company

Reya Mosby, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the March 25, 2022 flipbook.

Young Emmanuel Williams begrudgingly doodled in his childhood bedroom after getting grounded. Without toys during this punishment, Williams — then set on NBA dreams — traded in his mini basketball and kiddie hoop for a pencil and paper. 

He drew tennis shoes as he thought about his basketball idols and their footwear, determined to one day make his own signature sneaker. 

From then on, Williams embraced his love for design, creating outfits for his toys out of toilet paper and tape and envisioning bright, colorful outfits in his head. 

“I love everything (about designing clothes),” Williams said. “It’s fun — the process, creativity and thinking. I like the expression and … the process of watching something evolve and grow, just coming from me.”

Williams proceeded to study textiles and apparel and participated in numerous programs at UT, ranging from a mentorship program at NIKE to a study abroad trip in China and Japan. After graduating at the end of the 2021 fall semester, Williams decided to pursue his passion for fashion by helping to design seasonal clothing lines as an assistant designer at Levi Strauss & Co., one of the most celebrated names in apparel.  

“It doesn’t feel real, but I’m extremely grateful,” Williams said. “I didn’t do this on my own. It’s God, and I give Him the gratitude everyday. This is (because of) the people I’ve met — teachers, people who believed in me, etc.”

As a freshman, Williams didn’t know how to sew and was scared to tap the pedal of a sewing machine. However, after tediously practicing with the mechanics of design, Williams said he saw the fruits of his labors. He also received help from experienced staff members such as Eve Nicols, a professor of instruction in textiles and apparel, who helped him find his aesthetic by combining his love for anime with design

“He’s put a lot of effort in and grown tremendously,” Nicols said. “Emmanuel has always been very bright (and) a joy to work with, but (he is) also highly motivated, ready to work harder (and) take it to that next level.”

Nicols and Williams’ mentor, Dr. Ryan Sutton, director with the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence, said they believe Williams will combine his love of fashion and creation with his positivity and desire to help people and spark change both in and out of the fashion industry. 

“He wants to be able to talk to people, create impact, share a message and inspire,” Sutton said. “I hope he’s able to continue to climb this ladder (and) fuse his art and design with impact and motivation to transform communities, families and generations.”

Sutton said that after years of watching Williams grow as a designer and person, this job position stands as a true testament to Williams’ hard work and determination.  

“(I feel) over the moon (about Williams’ new job),” Sutton said. “I know how hard he’s worked, seen how dedicated he’s been and seen him grow. For him to come out winning like this warms my heart. He deserves it.”

Williams hopes to one day design his own line and bring his unique visions into other areas of media and art like film, music and video games. Right now, he said he is excited to begin this new journey at Levi Strauss & Co.

“I consider myself an anomaly — not like everybody else, different and unique,” Williams said. “This is my story. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I’m starting a journey, and I’m trying to figure out myself in a positive way.”