For this young fashion designer, it is all about precision. Each garment that she creates or alters is a beautifully-designed and unique piece. A full-time product assistant, Nazneen Daruwalla started Alter Me to pursue her passion for sewing and designing. Her creations have been showcased on a global platform at Miss Universe World and Miss India beauty pageants. We spoke to Nazneen to know more about her business venture.
IWK: What drives you to the fashion industry?
Nazneen: To be honest, I admire the labour side of the fashion industry more, from developing a pattern from an image to the full construction of the garment. It helps to have an analytic attribute as I enjoy problem-solving and learning new techniques every time, as each garment is different from the first. The key point about the fashion industry is that it is always changing and I find it thrilling to keep up with it.
IWK: Tell us a little about Alter Me. What services does it offer?
Nazneen: Alter Me provides remarkable services regarding couture. Services include clothing alterations, personal designing, dressmaking, and sampling. I take on each client’s needs as my own project and make sure to give them a satisfying result.
IWK: What led you to start your own business venture?
Nazneen: I started Alter Me soon after I graduated from Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design. As mentioned, I enjoy the labour side of the fashion industry, and I did not want to work for another company when I already had experience from my internships, hence I started my own company, Alter Me. Personally, I specialise in the dressmaking service, as I like working one-on-one with my clients; making their designs come to life.
IWK: In your formative years, you've interned with designers such as Amber Whitecliffe and Thom Dolan. How has that experience helped you grow?
Nazneen: I had the greatest opportunity to have interned with designer Thom Dolan, in New York. I worked alongside Thom and it helped me see how a small business runs through all stages, from designing to dealing with manufacturers and then receiving the sample products. I interned with Amber Whitecliffe when I was in my last year at uni. This is where I took away lots of experience in dressmaking. Amber’s clothes are simple and beautifully tailored. She has an amazing personality and I loved working with her through various projects.
IWK: Tell us a little about the designs you created for Miss Universe World and Miss India contestants. Any other global events where your work has been showcased?
Nazneen: Merciana Suess was one of the competitors in Mrs Universe New Zealand 2014. She came to me to design an outfit for the National Round at the pageant. I went through the entire process of designing various outfits for her to choose from, and then went to source fabrics and finally making her the completed product. Sonam Sharma was one of the contestants at Miss India. She already had her fabric and I designed an Indian outfit for her to wear at the pageant.
IWK: As an Indian fashion designer in New Zealand, how do you think the two different cultures influence your work?
Nazneen: I like using both Indian-Kiwi cultures in designing outfits. Many people have come to see me to design their evening dresses after seeing my Indian cultural, tailor-made, garments as they love the embellished fabrics and bright colours. I take the modern trends into consideration when clients come to see me to design and make them an outfit, so they always stay in-trend.
IWK: How do you manage Alter Me with a full-time job?
Nazneen: When I first started my full-time job I use to do Alter Me full-time as well. But eventually it got too difficult and now I run it as a hobby, as I still love the whole process of making a garment for a customer in need. I only take evening appointments from 5 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, which makes it a lot easier for me to manage as I have rest of the other days during the week to complete the orders.