Ainy Naim, is the Central Saint Martins alumni, who is creating a knitted storm in the music and fashion world.
From dressing the likes of Alicia Keys, French Montana and Swizz Beats (to name a few), the internationally favoured and emerging designer speaks to GAY TIMES on her creative journey and how she is planning world domination with one knitted look at a time.
How was the process of going from CSM graduate to independent designer?
It took a very long time and I tried to gain as much work experience as I could in all areas of this business whilst studying and after graduating. There is a process to managing a brand as well as the creativity to start one, my journey allowed that. After working in styling, buying, manufacturing; it came about quite organically.
How did you rise above the competition?
I did not look what anybody else was doing around me, its pointless as creative. I put that energy into being aware of what was happening socially and culturally instead, its more inspiring. Everybody has a space to create.
What made knitwear and streetwear the first point of reference for your collection?
Streetwear has always been my thing simply because I’m quite a casual person. Its what I have grown up with, I love comfort. I always felt restricted wearing jackets and always wore cardigans that I could tie round my waist.
As huge as streetwear is at the moment, it’s something that is always going to be consistent style for the brand. I loved and collected vintage knitwear pieces and the UK has some brilliant knitwear manufacturing. I prefer to keep as much of my brand locally made. Our design evolved over time, and I loved that they were able to fuse in the keffiyeh print with British vintage patterns.
Do you think the role of social media is the future of fashion?
Social media has been extremely important in our growth. We have been able to create a global customer base through Instagram. A lot of our social media is organic, we have never paid anyone to wear and post us, everything you see is support and genuine appreciation from the people that wear us. As its quite a unique piece people were able to spot us quite easily when somebody was wearing it.
How did the collection pick up a celebrity following?
I was lucky that Swizz Beatz who is a creative genius mentored and supported us at the very beginning. It was such a bright cardigan that even when it was worn on social media, people did their research and found us. It was an easy item to wear and style so both celebrities and our clients bought into it.
Is there any talent that you are dying to dress?
Celine Dion, her stylist is so dope!
What’s in the pipeline?
More culture, more patterns, and a full collection that I have been planning for so long.
How has queer culture impacted your creativity?
I mean I love queer culture; they contribute so much to the cultural diversity of London. I’ve had prominent gay men in my life whom have really helped me in my career. Stylist Johnny Wujeck gave me some of my greatest opportunities and also gave me the confidence to start my brand. How boring would London be with out diversity?
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