Nasir Mazhar has been progressively growing his name as one of London's leading 'makers' for the last few years and knowing his dedication to the city he grew up in, it seemed only right that we met up with him on his home ground – his east London warehouse – to talk through the Autumn/Winter 12 collection.
I wanted to try to make people aware of London street style but see it in a way that can be high fashion. Indie, rock, dandy, all these things are taken and referenced and accepted but in a way the street thing is kept in its place. Everyone knows it as cool London, but I want to take it further than that
Known for his adventurous headpieces that have caught the eye of Fashion East's Lulu Kennedy and Mugler's Nicola Formichetti, the Leyton-born designer crosses a futuristic take on sportswear with meticulous construction. Creatively impressive, culturally relevant and distinctly contemporary, the designer is someone you might assume has long been dedicated to fashion. But, for Mazhar, it was more of a process of evolution that led him to the industry. He initially worked as a hairdresser, coming to headwear after feeling restricted in what he was doing. “There is only so much you can when you're cutting hair. I started to add in plastics and wire, but it basically just ended up being hats anyway,” he says wryly.
Mazhar started to develop his understanding through internships, assisting Mark Wheeler and Jane Smith and subsequently studying a number of different techniques from metalwork through to embroidery. And it's with that that he really started to discover his aesthetic. “I love making and craft, I'm obsessed with how people make lace, for example. These are skills that have been practised for centuries and it's something that is being lost” he says.
Combined with his ongoing relationship to streetwear and the culture that surrounds it – “the music, the style, the way of speaking” – there is an absolute authenticity in what this milliner does. “I wanted to try to make people aware of London street style but see it in a way that can be high fashion,” he says. “Indie, rock, dandy, all these things are taken and referenced and accepted but in a way the street thing is kept in its place. Everyone knows it as cool London, but I want to take it further than that.” Listen to his presentation soundtrack here, Logan Sama's grimy After Hours rip, for the beat behind his work.
The attention to detail and distinct design elements are all in there this season, but pared down into accessible pieces. Sculpture, embroidery, technical work and print all appear, across caps and headpieces, necklaces, pouches and backpacks. It is a collection that adds the handwork quality of craft and the look of functional sportswear. Nasir has established himself as someone more than capable of producing amazingly intricate and impressive accessories. For Autumn/Winter 12 he has turned what he does into something clean, clear and consumable.