|Munib Nawaz – A Class Apart
by WAJIHA JAWAID
"When it comes to fashion, innovation has always been my priority," says the very talented fashion designer, Munib Nawaz. After launching his label in 2003, he has not looked back. Being a progressive idealiser, Nawaz has created a name for himself with his unique fashion approach. He loves to design outfits that are edgy, masculine and satisfy the fashion needs of today's urban guy. He had the honour of representing Pakistan at the grand Miami Fashion Week in 2009 where his collection 'Ideal' was highly praised by international fashion gurus. His creations cater to those who believe in elegance, opulence and style without boundaries. Recently MAG had a chat with this talented fashion designer where he shared the creative secrets of his success and talked about his journey in the fashion industry so far. Excerpts:
WJ: When did you feel that you wanted to be a fashion designer?
MN: Since childhood, I had a good styling sense. I had my first exhibition when I was in only 5th standard. I used to design clothes for my school friends and neighbours and then started out by designing my own clothes. I used to buy material from the local market and got it stitched by a tailor, explaining him my designs and detailing techniques. I got immense appreciation for my designs and I started getting orders at a very young age.
How was your experience working under the supervision of Amir Adnan?
It was a wonderful experience and I learnt a lot from him. I had worked with him for two years. Other than grooming my creative skills, he along with his sister motivated me to complete my education.
In spite of working with Amir Adnan, you have never followed his signature style. Why is that so?
It is because I don't like the word benchmarking. Although I have learnt a lot from him but I never wanted to copy him. I have always wanted to carve a niche for myself having a distinctive approach. To keep my individuality intact, I have started designing clothes for musicians which is a novel concept and has not been experimented by anyone before.
How would you describe your design idea?
My design idea for Munib Nawaz label is to keep it masculine and edgy. It should reflect my individual persona along with my target market's demands in an innovative way.
From where do you draw inspiration for your creations?
Art has always been a representation of our social culture. I am also moved by whatever is happening in my surroundings. You must have seen designers going abroad and coming back with inspirations for their collections like New York lights, Spanish culture and truck art etc. I also draw inspirations from my vicinity. Once I got inspiration from the Sindhi ralli work and I designed a collection following the same theme. I am also highly inspired by the Gothic and Renaissance period of the 14th and 15th century and it shows in many of my creations.
Why do you think our musicians prefer you as a designer over other famous designers?
Music has its own language. There is a certain colour for every melody and rhythm. While designing clothes for musicians I use a little scientific process and convert one form of art that is music into another such as designing. So far, I have designed outfits for more than 110 music videos. This huge number indicates that our musicians value my work. The reason for it could be that I truly understand their personality and their musical demands.
Who do you prefer as your target clientele?
I prefer to design for young people. My target clientele includes young entrepreneurs, media personalities, producers, musicians, designers and art managers. A simple guy who works in a multinational company is my target client, as I know he can boldly don a shirt with a little detailing on collar for office gatherings and meetings. I am also planning to design clothes for bankers.
How do you see the current male grooming market in Pakistan?
It is progressing well and it could not be better than that. I think there are more men's wear designers than women's wear. Our dilemma is that we have not promoted them properly. In the past few years, I have seen drastic changes in our male grooming market. Earlier people used to ask for specific colours like blue, white and off-white but now they are ready to reinvent their style with shades like peach, yellow, orange and even turquoise. The credit also goes to fashion designers, as we have contributed a lot in changing peoples' styling preferences. About seven years ago, I introduced the bold 'stripes' trend and now it is not bold, in fact it is considered regular.
So you agree that Pakistani men have become fashion conscious?
Yes, they have become fashion conscious. If not then one cannot find a huge crowd at light house or other flea markets. People are wearing shirts with Giorgio Armani tags because they are aware that it is a popular designer brand.
What are the most common fashion mistakes men commit?
We do not know how to wear leather. There is no coherence between belts and shoes. Our selection of wallets and watches is poor. Overall our styling sense is very weak.
How would you describe your signature style?
My signature style is a mix of good tailoring, functional designs and good pricing strategy.
What is your definition of fashion?
Fashion is basically a time bound style.
What are your favourite fabrics and colours, and why?
My choice of colours fluctuates a lot with time but my perennial favourite shades are black and white. As far as fabric is concerned, I love textures. Herringbone is my all time favourite material, this fabric always excite me and brings out the best in me. I also can create texture in plain fabrics.
Could you explain the creative process of designing a collection?
For me getting an idea is the most important part of designing a collection. Around 95 per cent of ideas are inspired by some form of music. When an idea strikes my mind, I write something related to it. It could be literature or poetry. Then the process of brain-storming starts and I make a list of relevant and contradictory words. I believe that every contradictory thing also complement each other very well. This process helps me in deciding my design techniques. The basic idea behind my famous 'Ideal' collection was the ideology of Pakistan.
Tell us about your current collection.
Currently I have been working on three collections simultaneously and 'The Darkest Of The Dawn' is of one them. It is inspired by the song Shake It Off by Florence. The other two collections are also under production but their titles have not been finalised as yet.
Your 'Ideal' collection at Miami Fashion Week was highly praised. Please share the experience of displaying your work at the international level.
It was truly an eye opening experience, the kind of exposure one gets by participating in an international event is difficult to express in words. There, the market forces are extremely developed and it is a complete industry. During that fashion week I had a legal consultant, a business consultant, a buying consultant and a PR person working for me. I met some amazing people over there; they identified the areas where I needed to improve. On return, I worked on those areas and now I will soon send my consignment abroad.
How do you see the current trend of fashion weeks?
The occurrence of fashion weeks is a positive sign and it shows that our industry is growing. We are working on a plan to organise an exclusive men's fashion week in Karachi this month. It was Wasif and Mansoor's idea and I work as the creative consultant for them. We have some great men's wear designers and it is good if we promote them through events like men's fashion week.
Your focus has always been men's wear. Do we expect to see a women's wear line by you in the near future?
Our team has been working on it and commercially we are taking orders. We have not launched it properly as a label but we will do it very soon.