Nasir Mazhar: The London Bred Fashion Designer Mixes a Streetwear Aesthetic with High End Sex Appeal
When I first came across Nasir Mazhar I, like most London girls, thought, “Who the fuck is this guy and how did he infiltrate my brain?” Inspired by decades of London dance music; from Acid House to Jungle, Garage and eventually Grime, his designs are so original that once witnessed, you’ll beg, borrow and steal to get your hands on them. Though he missed out on the nightlife of the eighties and nineties, the native East Londoner grew up in the mist of the nineties UKG scene, which is evident from his aesthetic.
Influenced by the era of gelled-down baby hairs, off-key Moschino and gold hoop earrings, Nasir has created a solid fashion label with collections catering to men and women. In 2009 he showed at London Fashion Week for the first time, in a presentation of his headpieces and hats. At the time I was assistant to Sharmadean Reid, who’d launched WAH Nails only a few months before and my task was to glue rhinestones onto a set of four inch acrylic nails worn in the show. Five years later, we catch up to discuss his expansion and inspiration, plus Tinashe who he dressed for this issue.
When I first came across your work, you were making headpieces only. How did you expand to full clothing collections?
Really slowly. I started making sculptural, one-off headpieces, then started to introduce more wearable styles. Once I had built a small team and with lots of help from interns, the collections got bigger and started to include the headwear, backpacks, gloves, purses, all sorts of accessories. But just making accessories wasn’t enough to tell the whole story, I really wanted to be making full looks. So for SS12 we made two full looks for the collection just to test ourselves, and also the press and buyers. We got a lot of really positive feedback and were really happy ourselves, so we decided the next season we would introduce ready-to-wear in a mixed men’s and women’s presentation. From there it just grew and grew and now we show full collection on both the men’s schedule and women’s during London Fashion Week.
Did you launch your menswear and womenswear lines together?
I love both.
How big is your team? It must be a lot of work producing 4 collections a year!
Yeah, believe it’s really tough. There’s four of us full time, and then we have interns. Our work patterns are really hardcore.
You’re one of the few London-bred designers showing at LFW. How did the city prep you for this career?
It’s hard to say. Personally I make clothes that I like to wear. And what I wear now, I pretty much wore the same since I was a teenager. Where I was growing up, everyone was into the same thing there wasn’t really diversity in style or music. You listened to garage and RnB and you wore tracksuits in the day and something smarter if you were going out. I don’t think the city prepped me on how to start a business or make a career out of something or anything like that. I think it introduced me to the world of all things I love still love now all the things that inspire me.
East London is full of a mix of cultures. Did growing up there introduce you to the traditional styling of different ethnic groups?
What’s your background? Does your own family heritage inspire you much?
I was born in Leytonstone, east London and we’re Turkish Cypriots. My parents moved over around 1974. My dad was at university studying textiles in Istanbul and my mum was still at school in Cyprus, but the war broke out in Cyprus so they decided to leave everything and move to London. My parents are warriors and that really inspires me.