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Sketch London – Pure London

19-02-2016   


“I always wanted to study in Florence, home of the big Italian fashion houses, where the craftsmen breathed Italian culture into the lives of the people and to be surrounded by so much greatness, was very inspiring,” says Shazia Saleem – a self-confessed Italian culture nerd.

She has been sponsored by Harris Tweed twice as part of their centenary celebrations, which explains the Edinburgh connection and a love of Harris Tweed worked into her apparel and bags where possible. Shazia also has her designs in an exhibition on the East India Company at the National Maritime Museum. And contacts in Delhi, too good to ignore, to finesse best fabric at best prices keeps this lady on a permanent travel loop to India.

It’s the second full season for her as a designer who had started out specializing only in bespoke hand-made orders, but now focuses on ready-to- wear and responds to bespoke orders as and when they come in. “My designs don’t really fit into Moda or Scoop. And not quite sure where this idea of ‘the 3-show orders’ pre-requisite comes from.” This is the so-called prevailing wisdom of being seen at least 3 seasons before buyers take note or trust you to be there for them to place orders with you. Clearly this can be made entirely random by first show first time order-taking, but I do believe that there is a thread of truth running through this. One other interesting dynamic that Shazia touched on was the necessity to hedge with a SS shortfall collection on display, for those buyers not willing to forward order into AW. This was in fact reflected in a number of brands stands I spoke with, most of whom put it down to the vagaries of an uncertain market, stymied by the non-season happening of winter and the cash flow difficulties in forward planning their business this may have created. This is the undercurrent of a potentially painful financial reality, yet seemingly  ‘worked-through’ as part and parcel of being in this industry.

Shazia saw an untapped potential in the UK domestic market for affordable luxury and has entered the market at the higher, premium end. “For the woman who is 25+ with a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, a versatility in their lives reflected in their clothing, which can take them from the office, to the chic bar, to holiday with clothing that is universally glamorous and sexy each day.” The fabrics are of an excellent quality and ethically sourced and sustainable. They could be end of runs – which makes them all limited editions, not copies with a built-in exclusivity. She is confident enough in her designs to know that she can make repeat orders work across a number of similar patterns, if and when the limited editions are sold out. Would like to see this brand get a foothold in the market.

www.sketchlondon.co.uk




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