Born to Do it
Nabil Nayal is one of the most exciting emerging brands on the British fashion scene, having won the attention of Vogue, a runner-up in the LVMH prize and most recently the backing of the British Fashion Council Fashion Trust - he is most certainly one to watch.
Following in the footsteps of Erdem, JW Anderson and Mary Katrantzou, Syrian-born Nabil is set to embark on his most exciting period in the industry yet - for starters, his very own show at London Fashion Week this month. Alongside him stands his trusted and Chester-born business partner Jennifer Davies and here the pair tell Fashion Editor Laura Garner what’s behind the rumbling success of Nabil Nayal, the brand.
What brought you into fashion?
Nabil Nayal (NN): Some of my earliest memories include sitting upon rolls of fabric at my father’s textile shop in Syria. I used to rip and cut little pieces of fabric and then draw on them, in fact at one stage my father didn’t realise and thought we had a problem with moths! My grandmother was the first person to show me how to actually make garments and that’s really when my love affair with fashion began. I’m a maker and I strongly believe in making clothes that tell a story and last a lifetime.
In 1998 we returned to England and I began going down a fashion pathway. I was successful in my application to study at the Royal College of Art, however, I’m not from a moneyed background, so I really had no way of supporting my dream financially. A tutor informed me that the British Fashion Council were going to award one scholarship for that year. I was fortunate enough to win the scholarship, after rigorous interviews with Christopher Bailey of Burberry and the late Anne Tyrrell (who went on to be a great mentor to me).
Where does the inspiration for collections come from?
NN: I had developed a deep fascination with Elizabethan dress, but for me, that was not enough - I wanted to challenge myself and do something different. The lifts in the building at the Royal College never worked so I spent a lot of time walking up and down the stairs and looking at other departments in the building along the way. I came across the Rapid Prototyping department one day and I fell in love with the idea of working with something so far removed from historical research. I wanted to disrupt Elizabethan dress with other, more innovative technologies.
What are the plans for Nabil Nayal the brand next year?
Jennifer Davies (JD): This month we are presenting our SS ‘19 collection on the official London Fashion Week schedule. It will be held at the iconic British Library and it’s the first time they’ve ever held a fashion show
there so we’re extremely excited that it’s a first for them as well as ourselves! We’ll also be going to Paris Fashion Week with the British Fashion Council to take part in their prestigious LONDONshowROOMS which gives a platform to emerging British designers to showcase their clothes to a host of international press and buyers.
Fashion is now a business more than ever and your role is essential as the business part of the brand. Tell us more about you and your background Jennifer?
I grew up in Chester and attended Upton-by- Chester High School. I’ve always loved fashion but I actually first met Nabil when I was signed as a singer and songwriter to Universal Records. We met through my talented photographer friend, Peter Wormleighton (also from Cheshire). Nabil used to lend me his amazing creations for various photo and video shoots and also kindly help out with styling too.
I first got involved by helping him with lookbook shoots etc. We just really supported each other’s endeavours in whatever way we could. In 2015, I got dropped from the label which was a bit of a tough time. However, at that time Nabil had been shortlisted for the LVMH prize and was beginning to get a lot of attention. I was at a bit of a loose end and Nabil suggested I come on board and help build the brand.
Ever since then we’ve been steadily building the brand. We’ve still got a long way to go but I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in a short space of time. We’re very committed to supporting the talent we have up in the North. Many of our best craftspeople who work on our collections are based in and around Cheshire. Whilst London is, of course, a major fashion capital it’s great to be able to show that not everything has to revolve around it and that we can make couture level clothes here
Nabil Nayal is stocked in Dover Street Market and Harvey Nichols, London and the label also accept a small number of private buyers each season for bespoke/couture pieces, on request.
Laura Garner, Style Editor
Contact: Jennifer Davies
w: www.nabilnayal.com e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: 077 6216 9353