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This basketball player from the northeast dreams of a career in fashion

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During the summer, back home in Germany, Quirin Emanga played basketball in preparation for his next season at Northeastern. Emanga is a 6ft 5in sophomore guard for the Huskies, who reached the final round of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament last season.

During his six-month absence from campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Emanga was developing an interest other than basketball. He asked his mother for sewing lessons. When he stumbled upon a broken portable sewing machine, which looks like a big stapler, he fixed it and got to work.

I tried to fix my clothes, says Emanga. If the sleeves were too long, I liked to make a cuff and then sew it. For stuff like that I would use the machine or sew it by hand.

Quirin Emanga, a guard with the men’s basketball team, hemmed pants in the track and field offices. During the forced break due to the global pandemic, Emanga learned to sew and hopes to pursue a career in fashion after basketball. Photos by Ruby Wallau / Northeastern University

Emanga finds herself dreaming of a career in fashion. He would not be the first basketball player to make this gesture. Michael jordan has his own clothing line, Nikes Jordan Brand; Russell westbrook and Rondo region are among the current stars of the NBA who are interested in fashion.

Emanga was drawn to the field by a fashion show on YouTube, PAQ, created by four friends in London. Watching him has become an obsession for him.

I really like retro fashion, vintage, the way people dressed in the 1990s and 2000s, he says. I think things like gender boundaries and sustainability are important. Fashion is obviously a big polluter of the planet. That’s why about 70% of my closet is saved. I try not to buy new things. I like to save money, reuse old clothes and remake clothes with old pieces.

Quirin Emanga, a goalie for the men’s basketball team, has learned to sew and hopes to pursue a career in fashion after basketball. Photos by Ruby Wallau / Northeastern University

He tried to turn sweaters into vests and cut T-shirts in half to sew mismatched pieces together.

Repurposed clothing can be essential for a person of the size Emangas. Thrift stores and other clothing stores don’t exactly stock her sizes.

I like oversized clothes anyway, he says. Clothing doesn’t have to fit my body perfectly. If the clothes are loose, I have no problem with them.

Emanga was born in France, French is his mother tongue, but grew up mainly in a town near Stuttgart, Germany where he excelled at basketball. In Northeastern, he intended to study business, but quickly realized that it was not for him. He switched to graphic design and now plans to add a fashion minor.

Photo courtesy of University College Dublin

I think there is a good balance between basketball and art, he says of his two creative interests. The two are very different, but they are also similar. Creativity is an integral part of basketball. Creative players are able to come up with new moves or know what moves to use in situations, because that’s how a player expresses himself. And of course in fashion you see the competitiveness between the different designers and the different houses.

Emanga is a defensive minder who will be asked to defend multiple positions when the Huskies open their season on Thanksgiving Day at the DC Paradise Jam in Washington, where they meet George Mason at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.

Athletes like him used to be warned about distractions like fashion, believing that they should focus entirely on their sport. But Emanga believes his outside interests, including fashion and issues of environmental political activism and racial and gender justice, will help bring out the best in him as a player.

I think it’s very important to have a balance between basketball and something else, he says. As athletes we focus on our performance, the way we perform is often the way we perceive ourselves. If we have a bad game we feel like, oh, I’m a terrible person, I’m not worth anything. But that’s not true because I feel like I can define my personal worth in so many ways.

I want to see how can I help improve this planet in 10 years, 20 years and 50 years. I don’t see myself only as a basketball player but also as a human being.

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