Munib Nawaz - Weaving A Tale of Glamour

In a tete-a-tete with one of the finest designers of Pakistan today, MAG asks Munib Nawaz about his personal and professional growth over the years and everything fashion!

Let’s get the clichéd questions out of the way first. What’s your design philosophy like?

At a philosophical level, it would have to be “balancing the paradox”. But on a more operational level, it's “looking like a rockstar, feeling like royalty and acting like a gentleman”.

With the current market being this tough, how hard and important is it for a designer to keep reinventing?

That's what a designer does, staying true to design. If the designer stops reinventing ideas or stops growing and nurturing them, they become fodder for the future.

What have been some of the career highlights for you?

Some of my career highlights happened when I let go of my career and let life live through me, instead of me living through life. The birth of my first child (a boy) gave me so many reasons to live, and then I started learning about my work. In the last four years, I feel that I have learned most about design and life, in general, and for me that's been the most important highlight of my career. It's summarised in a thought, “Be here now”. I've learned that being where you are is the most important thing; we are always scattered; our thoughts, our bodies and our souls are all in opposite directions. My highlight is being able to switch off. Most of my friends think that my brand's exposure has dropped because I have started having a life besides work.

What, according to you, are the best and worst parts of your job as a designer?

I love to design, whether clothes or anything else. I love the idea of creation and creativity. I love the fact that this job makes me learn new things. I get to do new things and still manage to make some money [smiles]. What I don't like is [not knowing] where the money disappears because I don't like having to check my accounts, and I don't like the fact that some numbers can gauge my success. I mean, would you prefer to make 100 rupees and be happy or make 200 and be unhappy? I think the former [would be] more successful. Hence, I don't like quantifying success. Success, for me, is the smile that you own and spread alongside making money [smiles].

Do you go for a new strategy every time you open a new outlet or launch a new collection? Do you notice a difference in the mindset of consumers from different cities?

Yes, indeed, quite a difference. [And] yes, the locations play a major role in promoting a store. Each collection represents a new take on design for us, but we have a strategy laid out which ensures that we keep our target market in mind. How to attract new customers, is always a part of our strategy.

What are your thoughts on how fashion has evolved in Pakistan over the past decade? And where do you see it heading in the next decade?

Fashion has been a beautiful ride for Pakistan. It literally has transformed the way we look now. Imagine a woman 15 years ago and now. Their upkeep has tremendously changed. Same [is the] case for men, [there is] so much awareness [about] personal care. Next 10 [years] are [will take the] same trajectory. However, I feel that the concept of sustainability will set in very soon in all products and it is going to garner strength.

The most common mistakes celebrities commit when dressing up for the red carpet?

Trusting their own style sense over their stylists’/designers’. If you have them, trust them. If you don't have one, get one.

Trends you are looking forward to sporting and incorporating into your work this year?

Athleisure and organic fabrics. I love the concept of creating cross-functional clothes. To be working on this is so much fun. [I want to be] creating men's wear formal fabric that's functional.

Trends you are already fed up with?

Skinny everything – lapel, tie, pants, shorts, shirts, people. Let's live large [smiles].

You have also been a radio presenter and did [crime drama] Cell 224 way back. How did your other hobbies, if I may call them that, fit in with your choice of career?

That's a great question, thank you. Well, music has always been very close to the brand and I've been a music enthusiast all my life. Hence, the radio show kinda fills in on my personal thirst for sharing music and having some life to the brand besides being just a fashion designer. It used to be fun too, plus again, [it] gave the brand its life. Hosting has been one of the things I've been doing since school, so doing it on TV was fun, especially when the concepts of the shows were unique. I took a hiatus on the hosting front myself, because [it] felt the news boom and room were all filled with numbers instead of [people] doing anything unique and engaging. I got the opportunity to host Pakistan's first fashion design web series, so I did it again. These are fun hobbies that give my brand its unique life and me, a chance to explore more about myself.

It’s quite unusual to come across a designer who is this successful but who is also into other art forms and actively pursues them. Do you plan these things out and have a strategy in place or you just go with the flow?

Weirdly enough, I've had a tentative idea. I've never had a strategy but almost an eventual goal for where I want to be, till now. I had laid out some goals that I wanted to achieve and around what time. Things have moved along so well for the past 15, years that now I'm excited about the prospect of pushing my growth forward and doing things bigger than myself. So, there’s a thought for the future. The strategy is hope, honesty, and hard-work [smiles].

Tell us something not many may know about you.

That depends on how many read this interview [smiles]. Well, I write and I'm a fitness/happy life enthusiast. I learn to find happiness. I seek the opportunity to serve.