Saturday, 12 April 2014

Nazir Mazhar Interview x Frank151


London’s modern day answer to a milliner (he prefers hat-maker), Nasir Mazhar grew up as your typical London kid—embracing the sportswear scene, hanging out on street corners, and basically all of what the ’90s had to offer at that time. An apprenticeship at the hairdresser Vidal Sassoon in Brick Lane soon lead to Mazhar becoming a hat-maker extraordinaire, when he realized he was limited with what he could do in hair styling. As a result, Mazhar has gone onto design hats for your not-so-average celebrities (Lady Gaga if we’re name dropping) and still manages to remain humble and dedicated to the East London roots that continue to inspire him today.
Enticed by youth culture, Mazhar is not interested in the couture-like clothing at London Fashion Week that appears to bore him, hence his debut menswear and womenswear collections for SS14. The styles are reminiscent of a fantasy hip-hop rave that TLC would have attended back in the day alongside the LA Chola girls—you get the picture. Inspired by his friends, sportswear, street culture, and clubbing (yea I said it), Mazhar is primarily an accessories designer that manages to successfully use nostalgia to his advantage. Most of all, he just wants to make hats interesting and relevant to our time once again.
You grew up in London’s East End, how did that influence you as a designer?
I think all of growing up influenced me. The going out, the music, clubbing, sports, fighting, gangs, friends, clothes, playing out, school—there was a lot of good times, but it’s hard to say exactly how that influenced me. Proof’s in the pudding.
Describe your brand aesthetic.
Right now it’s brash.
Growing up, what kind of clothes and music were you into?
From about the age of nine until sixteen I listened to jungle, then two-step, R&B, speed garage, hip-hop, and garage. I only wore sportswear unless I was going out, and I’d wear a shirt and some smart trouser or jeans. It was kind of a uniform.
How did the hat-making venture begin?
I was assisting a hair stylist, working on editorials and shows whilst doing my own work, and the hairstyles I was trying to do slowly turned into headwear. I think I found there was more space to experiment with hat-making rather than hairstyling, so then a friend introduced me to Mark Wheeler who’s an amazing maker for theatre. I started helping him and where I learned so much I started taking courses with Jane Smith. Whilst doing this I was always making my own work and experimenting, and then I put a five-piece collection together and it carried on from there.
What was the inspiration behind your design signature, the box peak cap?
I was bored of everyone wearing the same style cap as me so I wanted to make something new and better.
The difference between a hat-maker and milliner is…?
There’s lots of different opinions but basically, milliner is an old name used for someone who trims hats and a hat-maker makes hats.
Since launching your own label, you’ve had the chance to work with the likes of Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Viktor & Rolf to name a few. What was that like and how have you become the go-to hat man?
They were all real big opportunities, which I’m really lucky to have had. Happy memories. I can’t answer that last part.
How do you feel about youth culture today?
There’s stuff going on but it feels kinda stagnant.
You bring back a certain gritty, urban, ’90s vibe to your work that London sometimes seems to want to hide—what is it about that time that you love?
I think it was a time when music, film, dance, fashion, and lots of things were really progressing; it really felt original and honest. I love those values.
Any current muses? 
Not really.
You debuted your women’s and menswear RTW lines for SS13 at LFW, what’s next?
I’m going to concentrate on this for now, there’s a lot of change to deal with.
Who would you most like to see wearing one of your hats?
To be honest, I most like seeing strangers wearing my work.

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