We had the good fortune of connecting with Nadya Mistry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nadya, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Art was something that has always been a part of my life. Throughout my schooling I had participated in and won many Art Competitions. As a teenager, I was extremely interested and consumed with designing my own outfits. My parents saw my inclination towards fashion and encouraged me to continue and if I wanted, pursue it as a career.
What should our readers know about your business?
When I decided to open my store in 2000, it was still a novel idea in Pakistan; A young woman opening a boutique in a new mall in a metropolis like Karachi— never happened! Not just that, I was a girl who went to study fashion design! in Paris!! Both ‘studying fashion’ and ‘studying in Paris’ were unheard of in Pakistan in the early 90’s. After completing my internships in Paris and New York, I wanted to come back to Karachi and make a difference here. Most of the designers were working from home at that time. And I’m pretty sure, no one had studied fashion. I was determined to do things professionally. I didn’t let my age or sex or peoples opinions deter me. With the support of my father and the rest of my family, I hired an extremely talented architect to create a unique, New-Age boutique. I wanted to create awareness of fashion, to create the right ambience for my offerings-I wanted to give people Paris in Karachi! I opened my store in March 2000. It was not easy. I had to literally create a system from scratch. No one knew how to sell designer clothes in a boutique, no one understood the requirements of a fashion store, the tags, the bags, the boxes etc everything had to be imagined from the beginning. There were no precedents, no professional samples. I introduced the black, formal , jacket-suit- uniform culture for sales staff, all designers and other clothing stored followed suit. Till today almost all the stores have maintained that trend. I trained my sales staff 6 months pre-launch. They needed to understand where I was coming from, what I was trying to do, my ethos, the uniqueness of my label, my creativity, my ambition. I revolutionised fashion in Pakistan. Many many people know it, but very few want to admit it. Till today the Pakistan Fashion Industry is too busy playing dirty politics and fighting insecurities to look at the bigger picture. I was and am a vocal, visionary, trying to shake people and change mindsets.
In the 2000s, some people viewed my non-traditional designs as ‘Western’’. Today, two decades later, designers are taking cues from my work and are calling these ‘Fusion’. My label ‘Nadya Mistry || Paris Karachi’ was launched before I started my boutique. In fact, I designed and manufactured the tags when I was still in fashion school and put them on my graduation collection. I was a trained designer. I knew about the seasons, the fashion lines, the different labels…everything there was to know about Fashion. So when I launched my store, I launched my Prêt-a- porter label, ‘Future par Nadya Mistry’, as well. In the mid 2000s, I came up with my men’s line, which I called ‘Mistry Man’. Designers and brands in Pakistan are now doing ‘Ready to Wear’! But funnily, they still haven’t grasped the term. Pret or Ready to wear are not outfits that have print and embroidery and everything else combined to give the illusion of value for money! In an economy like Pakistan, RTW outfits can’t be priced at say PKR 10 K minimum. That’s ridiculous!
I can easily claim that I was the very first designer to give the option of replacing the traditional, costume-like ‘bottom, the shalwar’ with pants. In my opinion, it gave the outfit a more pleasing, wearable and global look and feel. Today, almost every designer pairs their tops with pants but no one has ever recognised or given me credit for this creative input.
I don’t see myself as a ‘Pakistani’ designer, but a ‘Global’ designer. My clothes are appreciated by a wide audience ranging from traditional Pakistanis to fashionistas in the West!I love doing shows and working for clients abroad. I feel more understood, encouraged and accepted there. Although I’ve kept a low profile locally for a few years, I have been doing regular shows in the US and other markets. There’s so much to do in fashion in Pakistan and internationally and I hope to achieve some major milestones with solid collaborators and investors. I wish I had easier access to fashion conglomerates like LVMH, Kering, or the Wertheimers, who can actually give me the impetus to take my label and creatives dreams to the right global stage.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To my family; my parents Nasir & Nasim and my brother Shams. They have been my support, my rock, my mentors, my backbone!
Instagram: NadyaMistryOfficial, NadyaMistry
Linkedin: Nadya Mistry
Photography credits: Arshad Tareen Ayaz Anis Khan Ather Shahzad Asim Sheikh Rizwan Khan Sohail Kashif Rashid Faiz Hussain