Ramsha Nawazish On Her Label, Making Fashion Accessible For All And Whether Pakistanis Are A Fashionable Bunch
We sat down for a heart to heart with Ramsha Nawazish and picked her brains about what she thinks of the Pakistani fashion industry, what the scope for ‘modest fashion’ is here and which local brands she thinks can make the cut internationally!
Let’s start off by asking you about your label ‘Ramsha Nawazish? What made you start it and what’s the inspiration behind it?
I would like to shed light on the fact that I come from a family full of engineers, making me the only individual in my family who opted to major in ‘Business Management’. Since my childhood, I would myself breaking the norms and standards that we are subtly expected to adhere to. The set rules and restrictions were never my cup of tea.
The early years of my life had been spent abroad which helped me gain the exposure and cultural diversity. I could see an untapped niche in our fashion industry which inspired me to experiment and start my own Label – ‘EclatbyRamsha’. Eclat is a French word meaning inspiration and as we all know, who does fashion better than the French? But with time, I rebranded my label to ‘Ramsha Nawazish’ because I believe it resonates with my audience on a better scale. Pakistan is a diverse country in terms of its heritage and cultural values so the fusion of East and West truly inspired me to take it further to new levels.
Your label focuses on what you call ‘Affordable Luxury’ and you design eastern, western and modest clothing? What does the market for high end non-bridal wear in Pakistan look like? Do you think we’ve moved past the stage where all our high end and high street fashion is focused on bridal wear?
This is perhaps my favorite question as I believe a lot of people do not get the true notion behind ‘Affordable Luxury’. When we say we aim to provide ‘Affordable Luxury’, it means our products have incredible quality, gorgeous design, attractive packaging to make the whole experience of purchasing worthwhile. They say first impressions last for quite long so we try to ensure a promising experience starting from the packing to style statement within the affordable means to the audience. Also, not to forget the after sale service which is not so common even in high-end non bridal wear brands in Pakistan. As for the market segment is concerned, I believe it is finally evolving and heading in the right direction. There are many Pakistani brands that are determined to bring on remarkable products in the market so the fashion enthusiasts like us wouldn’t need to travel for the sole purpose of shopping or extended wait period for receiving their orders placed internationally. On so many occasions while on a shopping spree I came across tags ‘Made in Pakistan’ and realized the immense amount of potential our country has which is sadly not being utilized to its fullest. I hope to work towards filling this gap through our brand and extend our reach not to just the big cities but to the whole of Pakistan.
Given that a large number of women in Pakistan wear ‘shalwar qameez’ on a regular basis, what sort of a market is there for what you call ‘modest fashion’ in Pakistan?
Back in 2018, we came up with the idea of ‘modest fashion’ to cater to the audience who look for pieces that are not much revealing yet with a strong and amusing style statement. This segment within the market of Pakistan fashion industry has not been explored very much. We wish to spread the range for all kinds of fashion lovers within their comfort zone. We have successfully built an audience for this specific line and a lot of other brands are also coming up with their own modest lines now. This is something we all need to appreciate because with all the awareness and media, I believe everyone deserves a chance to find their own style.
With COVID-19 and lockdowns, people are working a lot more from home. Do you think that has changed the way people dress and think about clothes?
I believe that’s not true. I think the fashion and food industries are amongst those which have experienced the least downsides of the pandemic. If nothing, the pandemic has reinforced the amount of love women have for dresses. Whether it is those long queues outside their favorite stores or COVID; nothing could not put a halt on their shopping spree!!
Which Pakistani brands doing western wear do you think are good enough to compete in the international market?
I would like to say ‘All of them’ in terms of effort and cost competitive advantage. If I have to name a few, I think I would have to say ‘Sapphire West’ and ‘Outfitters’ are doing a fabulous job.
What international brands inspire you the most? What brands do you wish we could emulate in Pakistan?
I cannot name a specific brand but what really inspires us is the application of aesthetics and design which we have seen done beautifully in various international brands. Anyway while growing up I did have a few favorites that dealt with fast fashion wear such as ‘H&M’, ‘Zara’ and ‘Pull & Bear’. I am not sure if ‘emulate’ is the right choice of word as I believe we should create our own identity rather emulate one and as I mentioned earlier, we are moving in the right direction.
Tell us a little bit about your personal style and design philosophy. What would we normally find you wearing on a regular day?
I believe personal style of an individual is very important because it says so much about you when you walk into a room. Fashion is an instant language. You can easily see through people if you observe their style. My personal style philosophy is to fill my closet with beautiful, very well made, classic pieces that will stand the test of time in terms of both use and fashion trends, and then mix those pieces with up-to-the-minute, less expensive items to pull a look together. To do this, I love layering clothes, accessories, and jewelry. I think accessories, like a cool hat, earrings, or bright, colorful scarves can really pull a look together and make you stand out! I let my style evolve with my life, which changes pretty often. On a regular day you will probably see me in ‘less is more’ kind of mood. A nice pair of jeans and a perfect button down shirt is my go to and not to forget, a good wrist watch. I cannot work any of my looks without a wrist watch and a good pair of heels.
Do you think that we are a fashionable nation? If you could change one thing about the way that Pakistani’s dress, what would it be?
Oh we are very much a fashionable nation. Given how people manage to pull together such amazing looks within their often limited means is astonishing. From a simple monochrome ‘shalwar suit’ to elaborate dresses! It is just the limited availability to many that sets us in a growing industry phase. There has been a great deal of awareness among our audience with due credits to social media, wonderful fashion bloggers and influencers. Back in the days, international trends could take long enough to reach Pakistan.
I wish to have much more evolved mindset about the style statement free from all stereotypes or limitations. I would love to see women much more confident with their choices. Whether modest or bold, I want to see our women dress up however they desire and to have a space for everyone to co-exist and live life to fullest with the sense of freedom in their choices.
If you could pick an actor/model/superstar to be the face of your label, who would it be? (International or Pakistani)
I guess Saba Qamar or Sanam Saeed! I would want the face of my label to be a quintessential representation of a Pakistani girl which may not be covered through choosing international models.
Where do you see ‘Ramsha Nawazish’ in five years?
If all goes as planned, you will definitely see ‘Ramsha Nawazish’ in the international market for its eastern and modest wear, InshAllah.