While most fashion items nowadays are clichéd and unoriginal, designer Nada Akram decided to customize her designs with a modern twist on the Egyptian identity. Akram, who launched her debut collection in Dubai’s Fashion Forward in 2011, designs comfortable clothes with an edge in order to fulfill every age group’s taste while staying distinctive.
Tell us how you set your foot in the fashion industry.
Since the beginning, when I was in college, I’ve been designing my own clothes and customizing them. I also designed clothes for dolls. Then I graduated from college and earned a fashion diploma and also started taking online courses. In 2010, I started my official fashion line.
Is there anything specific that made you interested in fashion?
Barbie. I’ve always designed outfits for Barbie dolls.
When did you decide that this is the field you want to pursue your career in?
In 2007, I made it a career and decided to start my own business, especially that I studied marketing in college and I didn’t feel that I belong to the corporate life.
What made you think that your designs should be customized?
I started off by designing t-shirts and later found out that my designs were being stolen so easily. They took my designs, even my pictures, and put them online. I wanted to make my designs hard to copy, so, I started designing my own fabrics and I stopped buying fabrics from markets because that’s where other designers buy from. Even the prints on the t-shirts are drawn; I didn’t get them from the internet. So, mainly because of copying and also to be different.
Do you think your clients are appreciating the uniqueness of your designs?
They’re actually appreciating my designs because they know they won’t find them anywhere. So, to them, my designs don’t exist at any other place but mine. I also customize designs for the celebrities I deal with, so no one can wear these designs but them.
What’s the purpose behind your designs? Is it just a method of self-expression?
I’m focusing on the Egyptian identity with a modern and funky twist. Since I started, my aim was to put this identity in every collection. I also like to add the happy outfits, or the happy prints, like gummy bears, cupcakes and popcorn. They are a happy pattern to me and my trademark; so when anyone sees these prints, they know they’re mine right away. That’s also a challenge to me because I want people to be able to know my designs without seeing a logo.
Who’s your role model in fashion design?
As a career path, it’s Coco Chanel because of the way she started and because she reminds me of how I started, which was in a small apartment selling hats and then she had her own empire. I started with 500EGP and my own digital camera and used to take pictures of my friends wearing my designs. As work, it’s Jeremy Scott, because sometimes I feel that our designs are a bit similar. It’s like there’s a love-hate relationship between him and I. Even though he doesn’t know me at all but there are some things that he did that I’ve done too. Like Barbie for example, which he had a full collection of. He’s probably the only one whose work is really similar to mine because he’s also the only one who creates his own fabrics.
What about the future? Do you think you can expand out of Egypt?
I already expanded in Dubai. I went to Fashion Forward for three years in a row, and now I have a plan to expand outside. My designs are too casual for fashion shows because they are too casual, so I have a different plan; I’m trying to do it through celebrities outside because my point of strength is using the patterns. So, this is what I’m focusing on and also I want to spread our identity outside. There has to be a progress for the trends but I want to keep the identity in a funky way that goes along with our current time.