Up Close With Our Partner Designer Natalia Naveed

emerging women designers fashion start-up Natalia Naveed


At Victoria Road, we have a special relationship with our newest designer partner, Natalia Naveed. Brilliantly talented, passionate about her work and motivated to keep pushing her limits, Natalia left one of Pakistan's largest fashion houses to launch her namesake brand, Natalia, this year. Natalia’s exclusive Winter 2015/16 collection for Victoria Road, available for presale via Kickstarter this October, is our first collaboration in which we’ve taken care of developing technical specifications and managing the ethical sourcing and production process for our partner designer. Natalia’s flexibility, infectious exuberance and commitment to excellence have been essential to making this unique project a success.

Recently Natalia took time out of her packed schedule to answer a few questions so that the Victoria Road community can get to know her better.

VR: Tell us a little about yourself... what inspired you to begin a career in fashion design, and what sustains your drive to design?

NN: You probably don’t want a clichéd unoriginal response to this one, but maybe just for this ONE question I’ll be slightly boring but VERY HONEST – I’ve been into fashion since I can remember. However, there was one hitch at the start:

A hardcore tomboy as a kid (and still one), in my earlier years I wasn’t very expressive or demonstrative about my love for designing clothes, thinking that everyone would make fun of me about being so girly. In my head I had a reputation to maintain of being a bad ass (yes I was one of those girls). So while I’d spend most of my days at school and college at the basketball court (basketball is my other passion and I’ve played at the National level many times as well), I’d take out time at home to secretly sketch clothes for all kinds of imaginary people.

Academically, I have done my double majors in Economics & Finance from LSE. But after my bachelors it hit me that I was wasting my life not doing something I love. Being a female pro basketball player in Pakistan was out of the question, so I decided to pursue my other passion which was fashion (yeah I know the two don’t mix at all). Hence, I took a risk and declined all job offers and instead applied to fashion houses. As expected nobody responded. And why would they? I had no relevant academic or professional experience in any art related field let alone fashion designing on my resume. And unfortunately I had no other way of showing them how passionate I was.
What sustains my drive to design? Passion, actually.


And then Generation decided to give me a chance. I must’ve emailed them a million times just to get them to interview me ONCE. I didn’t even ask them to consider me as a potential employee initially, I just asked them to probably give me ten minutes of their time so I could somehow convince them that this is the ONLY thing that I want.

And somehow it worked. I was able to convince them and they kept me on a trial basis at first. [In five years,] I was eventually promoted to Team Head of two of their most important lines: Generation Woman and Generation Basic and was leading and training designers from prestigious fashion schools.

What sustains my drive to design? Passion, actually.

VR: What aspect of Pakistani / Lahore culture, tradition or handicraft most inspires your designs?

NN: I just LOVE our fabric variety! We have everything here from gorgeous brocades to silks, nets and chiffons, cotton and cotton blends and the list goes on.

I’m excited about using relatively ethnic Moroccan patterns with western cuts like shift dresses and vests. It’s always fun while trying to create a fusion of two or more cultures into one collection.

VR: Your Winter 2015/16 collection for Victoria Road is inspired by Moroccan design. Where do you see similarities to or differences from Pakistani design, and how has that affected your creative process?

NN: I’m excited about using relatively ethnic Moroccan patterns with western cuts like shift dresses and vests. It’s always fun while trying to create a fusion of two or more cultures into one collection.



VR: Do you draw inspiration from other cultures as well?

NN: Yes definitely! My debut collection for Pakistan was inspired by Japanese embellishment patterns and kimono-inspired silhouettes.

VR: Give us your take on the fashion scene in Pakistan.

NN: We’re making waves all over the world, be it at a small or large scale. So we’re definitely growing and making progress! And that just makes me really happy – to know that people are coming out of their comfort zones and creating some brilliant fashion right here in Pakistan.

VR: Who are your biggest style muses?

NN: The first name that comes to my mind is definitely Victoria Beckam. How does she manage to look so flawlessly fashionable ALL THE TIME? Love her style! And my second pick is Miranda Kerr for her perfect street style!

VR: When scouting prints, fabrics and inspiration pieces, what do you look for specifically?

NN: I never restrict myself. I can and do draw inspiration from anything and everything.

VR: What do you find most rewarding about the process of design conception through to production?

NN: The feedback from customers after their purchase, actually. I just love getting emails from all over the world from clients who think the pictures weren’t doing justice to my designs and they loved them in real more. It’s a great feeling!

I never restrict myself. I can and do draw inspiration from anything and everything.

VR: What has been your biggest struggle with starting a career in fashion design in Pakistan?

NN: Nobody is doing digital printing and especially multihead embroidery at such a small scale. Even I had difficulty finding vendors who were willing to cooperate with a new startup with such low quantities. I mean if you’re aware of how these units operate, they have minimum quantities and they don’t work below those.

VR: Where do you see yourself in 5 years, and how do you measure your success?

NN: Still working my ass off till I have my own multinational brand. It has been my dream since I was a kid.

I measure success by the number of customers who felt happy after wearing Natalia and then came back for more. This is the most important thing for me – build a relationship with them, not just to make sales.

VR: How would you describe your personal style?

NN: I have my moods but generally androgynous. To put it differently, if I was rich enough I’d buy EVERY PIECE from Haider Ackermann’s collections till date for my wardrobe! =)

I measure success by the number of customers who felt happy after wearing Natalia and then came back for more. This is the most important thing for me – build a relationship with them, not just to make sales.

VR: What would be one piece of advice you would give to a new designer just starting out?

NN: Nothing comes easy but that is what makes “don’t overanalyze or be scared, just go for it” so worthwhile!

Some time ago I came across this quote by Wayne Gretzky and it inspired me (I’m hoping it inspires other people too):

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

I think it pretty much sums up everything for all the new start-ups!


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