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Fashion Talk

Nida Mahmood

Label - Nida Mahmood

My language is colour and mode of expression, print

The Nida Mahmood brand emerged from the designer’s innate love for all things Indian. The eponymous label believes in creating a world in Indian colours. It has a strong design language drenched in Indian influences and finds inspiration in weaving stories from colloquial anecdotes about people and places. Speaking to Fibre2Fashion, designer Nida Mahmood talks about her label, collaborations, fashion trends and future plans.

Fibre2Fashion: What motivated you to launch your eponymous label?

Nida Mahmood:

I always knew I would do something creative in my life. Although I was studying to be a doctor, I figured out very early that I was not as excited by the idea of wearing a white lab coat and stethoscope as I was drawn to colour and form. After realising that I needed to have my own voice and make a difference, the best way forward was to create my own label.

My brand is not just a clothing label. It has relevance in the space of art, design, interiors, landscaping, film, and so much more. I have always been hungry to do everything that my creative mind can possibly do and that is why it was imperative for me to have the freedom of having my own brand.

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted my epitaph to describe all the amazing creative choices I made in my life. This would only have been possible if I had the freedom to do everything that I wanted in my professional space. Although many years ago when I started my label, I had no idea how or if this was going to be possible. Nonetheless, the endeavour was to walk in the right direction and the path would clear on its own—which it did and still continues to this day.


F2F: How would you describe the vibe and spirit of your collections?


My work is vibrant and rejoices in the nuances of our innate ‘Indianness’ which makes us who we are. We are never preachy in our design approach but have a lively, fun-loving edgy take. At the same time, our design sensibility reflects a social message. We are bold and fearless. We believe in creating our path with evolved creative thinking.

F2F: What sets you apart from other brands in the fashion industry?


We are a holistic brand which does so much more than just fashion. While fashion is definitely our focus and forte, it does not stop us from expressing in other ways in our creative spaces.

I look at the Nida Mahmood brand as a ‘thinking’ brand which has the bandwidth to think beyond basic design. While we develop concepts, weave fabrics, create prints (which is our USP), and make garments, we also have the bandwidth to translate our work in other creative parallel universes.

F2F: What inspires you to create such artistic and colourful prints?


I am inspired by everyday things which seem small and can be easily missed. These are the things that actually make us as people, but we do not realise how intrinsic they are because of their nature. I love the streets, nooks, and crannies of India. India is oozing with inspiration. The chai stalls, old cinema halls, small weekly bazaars, modern elements, fashionable cities like Delhi and Mumbai, smaller towns, urban cultural nuances, the amalgamation of languages—everything inspires me.

My language is colour and mode of expression, print. I love the way we, as a brand, translate our creative conversations in our unique language.

F2F: What are your thoughts on the luxury fashion landscape of India? How has it evolved over the years?


The luxury fashion market has expanded by leaps and bounds in the past decades. With the advent of social media, people have been exposed to so much that the audience has become aware and discerning about the quality and fit of garments.

Influenced by the influencer tribe, the Indian audience has become more aware of how to wear and style themselves and what kind of garments to invest in.
Obviously, this exposure has been very useful towards the evolution of the luxury landscape as well. One does not need to entirely depend on international travel to learn about new luxury trends. Fashion, as a whole, has become all-pervasive and a much bigger audience is investing in expensive clothing and the luxury segment.

Not just designer bags, but seasonal fashion offerings are being lapped up by the modern Indian today. With more opportunities and occasions to dress up for, outside of the wedding season, the luxury market has seen a boost.

F2F: Tell us about a few of your favourite projects and collaborations.


I have enjoyed all the creative projects we have done. Some of my favourites would include collaborations with Nike, V&A, Lady Gaga, Swarovski, Satya Paul, and Absolut. All these projects have enriched the growth of the brand and our expression of design.

While some have had to do with fashion, others were connected to film and other creative genres. It has truly been a very beautiful journey for me personally as well as for the brand.

F2F: What are some of the challenges you have faced as an Indian designer?


Initially, people in general did not take fashion very seriously and that was a big challenge as far as communication with people by and large was concerned. Fashion was considered ‘a hobby’ as opposed to a profession. It took a while to change that perception.

Within the industry, the biggest challenge was that it was very hard to work with many Indian stores as the presence of legal contracts was almost completely non-existent. No one wanted to sign a legal contract with terms and conditions. That is why at the start of my career, we came across several dishonest people who had no scruples. I decided very early on to never work with someone who is iffy about putting terms and conditions on a legal document.

F2F: What are your future plans for the label? How are you planning to scale it?


We have several interesting plans both in terms of our creative approach as well as business-wise.

We are setting up a parallel brand which will initially be completely into e-commerce and then go into many avenues.
We have forayed into the metaverse with our first non-fungible tokens (NFTs). We plan to expand on our offering along the way. We also have plans to get into developing games.

F2F: What do you envisage as the top five fashion trends for the year 2023?


One very big trend for 2023 will be the continuance of oversized jacket and men’s suits for women. We are not quite done with this trend, so investing in it will be worthwhile.

Denim is becoming quite the rage other than the staple jeans category. High spliced long denim skirts, the denim mini skirt, and even trenches are going to be seen quite a bit in fashion circles.

Cargo pants are coming back in a big way. Not just as the versions we know and have worn in the past but also in silkier, softer fabrics.

Oversized statement pieces will continue to be important in the coming seasons, especially coats and trenches.

We will see a lot of fleece lining in winter silhouettes. Bags are getting smaller, brighter, and fun. Cross-body is the biggest trend apart from large shopping-bag-sized totes.

F2F: What advice would you like to give to young designers who are just starting out? How can they thrive in the highly competitive fashion industry?


The most important thing to remember is that originality is key. Creating your language as a designer is very important. This is a very competitive and saturated industry, hence copying or taking the beaten path often ends in a short trail.

A lot of hard work and commitment are required if one wants to create a recognisable brand. Of course, things are easier now as the world has shrunk so much within the vastness of social media. So, reaching out to a preferred audience is easier as a starting point but sustaining that is a herculean task given the competition.

What advice would you like to give to young designers who are just starting out? How can they thrive in the highly competitive fashion industry?

Interviewer: Kiran Sahija
Published on: 02/01/2023
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