Monday, 20 September 2010

Interview with GIA London
6:19 pm

Interview with GIA London


Last Thursday I caught up with the girls from Gia London, Najia (creative director) and Elise (jewellery maker and stitching maestro) and had a quick chat in their pretty studio hiding away in Muswell Hill. I got to know them through the work placement which was to design the web pages and icons for the the Gia website, not forgetting poor Glen the web designer of course! A year has past and since then I've been designing email, newsletter banners and other bits and bobs for them. After the launch of the website and appearing on Gok Wan they're beginning to attract a growing follower. I've asked Najia for advice about contracts and other boring stuff but not had a proper chat about Gia. I wanted to know about what it's like running a fashion business and basically how it all started. And if you're not familiar with Gia London well get comfortable and read on....

After having some yummy herbal tea and little pancakes with jam and butter on top (Najia seems to feed us loads of cakes and biscuits!) I asked her how Gia London started and what her inspirations are to develop the brand and each collection.  'It's been a long journey, ' says Najia. 'This is my second business, my first business was a design agency. However after reading lots of self help books about what I needed to be doing I realised I wanted to be do something related to fashion, travelling and being independent. Having said that I did a lot of research in different markets, looking at what clothes to sell. I knew I wanted to be creative and that's how Gia London was born.'
What really draws me to Gia London is how different it is from the high street, Gia has it's own unique and individual identity. Garments that each have a lot of love and attention, timeless, classic styles and a reminder of summer all year round. And what I see in the clothes it's how Najia reflects her passion and personality in vintage clothes and her amazing finds in charity shops. She says her maxi dress (in picture) was a vintage find and it makes her happy when she finds a piece like that. 'My inspiration comes from a lot from my Pakistani background, culture and more importantly my family. Especially my Auntie she's been a huge influence to me, the embellisment and  minute detail to all her clothes are amazing. It's something you rarely find over here. There's almost a story behind each garment.' 

From left to right; Elise and Najia

I asked Elise how she met Najia and what she was doing before hand. ' I started off working with a home performance sports wear label which were made to measure. And I've worked in a jewellery shop too. I met Najia at Portabello Market a few years ago and we instantly clicked. We have so many things in common like similar styles, love of vintage and embellished clothes.' They both both bounce off each other with ideas. Elise has also been busy making one off, handmade accessories and jewellery for her brand Novella-Ria. She has a fashion blog which you can read here. Her brand is all things gypsy inspired and gold trinkets from far away exotic travels with a hint of Gia. 

We moved on to the business side of Gia London and what was the future of it. 'The website is the window to the Gia world,' says Najia. 'The next step is about making the business work. We want to get to know people who will help us grow the brand and help us along the way. Having a vintage section to our website would be cool but it's being focused at one small thing at a time. And in terms of collaborations they said it was more about being established and for the people to come to you' this space folks.....

That said what would they both be doing in 10 years time.....hmmm' To have a studio in India and being able to travel to Hong Kong there and back!' And Elise adds, 'To develop Nouvella-Ria and possibly start a swim range wear.' And apart from having lots of babies (haha) to continue to make Gia London a success for many years to come.


I wanted to know what they thought about the current state of the high street, how everything has become an imitation of designers and carbon copies of each other. 'Fashion has become a throw away culture. Trends are short lived, people wearing the same things has become the norm,' says Najia. Both say that rather than spending money on cheap clothes it really makes sense to pick things that are expensive but which will last for longer and can wear day to day which I couldn't agree more. And Gia London is a breath of fresh air, garments that you can wear from season to season, dress it up or down and invest in something which you'll guarantee to turn heads around. 
'Harem pants were popular,' Elise points out 'Although Najia has been wearing them for more than ten years way before they became fashionable! And just because garments like shirts become the trend we adapt to things in season and what will work with our collection.' They had harem parents as part of their Spring/Summer Collection which was the current trend piece although it didn't work with them. Najia states that each collection is very unique, they have things that obviously work for them and it's all about growing the brand. Garments that are tried and tested is a learning curve, why churn out so much stuff when you can have a few key pieces that may not be 'fashionable?!' They point out that they'd much prefer to have things which fit with the brand and collection than simply following the trend. I honestly couldn't agree more.  

And with that I'm left feeling very positive and upbeat about my own work. Yes it's hard, everything you do is going to be hard. Trust me I'm at the very start of that road and things are starting to look bright.  

If you'd like to know more about Gia London go to their website. You can follow Gia London  and Elise (Novella-Ria) on Twitter. 

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