Hi to all the beautiful readers of The Student Aspect. My name is Ravina Kazim, the founder and namesake of KazimCoutre. I am an Afghan designer, working my way into the fashion industry. I am delighted to be sharing a day in the life of a fashion designer with all of you and I hope it becomes very useful information for everyone.
Being part of an Asian household, careers in medicine or engineering were mostly taken as a highly respected job and often was sort after by many parents for their child. I was really not thinking about being a fashion designer, not until in my GCSE year where I took textiles as one of my subjects. As part of my school trip, I was taken to view an exhibition on Alexandra McQueen which was based here in London. I loved the idea of emotions, feelings, and speaking out loud about political thoughts could be represented and spoken about through the representation of art and designing. Being present in that show laid the foundation of my future endeavours in fashion. Without thinking, I persuaded my parents and continued into university where I achieved a degree in fashion. I broke the family tradition of studying something academic to studying something creative. As time flowed, I increased the skills in my arsenal and through this act of achievement, I obtained a sense of motivation to show the world my creativity.
Then, fast forward to today and what my working day is like. I see myself as a night owl (main reason: watching too many Korean dramas). I usually wake up around 6 am and that’s because my little sister shakes the whole room while getting ready for school. I stay in bed until 10 am and I scroll through Instagram, looking at my posts and replying to the comments, using this time I also look at my recent post and have a think about what I could do better next time. Within this hour I also scroll through Pinterest for inspiration. My favourite part of the morning is making a to-do list on my phone for that day, I love to tick off the tasks I have accomplished and start with any designs that need finishing or continue with research for the next collections.
After that, I stay in my little studio for some time. This is the place where most of the creativity comes to life. I might spend hours in there or just 10 minutes. Either way, every minute of those times are being used, for researching, designing, making, or sometimes just scrolling through fashion magazines, etc.
Everyone has a different process when it comes to designing. Although I spend a lot of time researching, most of my ideas are formed through the inspiration of visualising natural elements within my surrounding environment. I also focus on sculptures by famous creators. With the research continuing I explore images (primary and secondary), fabric ideas, colour inspiration to create a mood board, which will then be transformed into concept bored.
The next step would be highlighting the most appealing aspects of the mood board and design rough ideas on a mini sketchbook which will then be followed by developing ideas. Through this process, the designs are further challenged and explored to provided improvements just before the final designs are chosen.
As a designer, all pieces are loved and appreciated, however, there are certain designs which I would love to make such as: The 3-piece collection is a combination of a Double layer of Tartan and chiffon trench coat with bodysuit and jeans. Cropped tartan blazer with shorts and matching boots put together with chiffon romantic cape. Finally, tartan and chiffon double layer dress both elegant and bold. I love this collection because it’s a perfect representation of me, of how I would like to be dressed, it’s the perfect way of showing off how a businesswoman looks in my mind and plus I’m in love with the tartan fabric.
Also, I love to learn as well as try new techniques when concerning the making and designing processes of fashion. Recently I have fallen in love with Tambour beading, it’s a type of embroidery which has been used since the 16th century and mainly from Asia. I love the idea of exotic embroideries created and constructed into beautiful garments. I have seen a large number of designers using this technique, as a result of this I would like to try this striking creative process.
My biggest inspiration and the designer I get inspired by is Iris Van Herpen. She uses science and 3D technology to create beautiful garments. The sculptural looks and her creativity are just outside the box: “You Don’t Have to Fly to Be Able to Push Your Own Boundaries,” one of her most recent quotes.
So, since my studio is at my parents’ house, I do enjoy a good lunch with my parents and spend as much time as I could with family. Although I spend various hours in my studio, this would not imply taking any breaks. I think having your mind cleared and relaxed is vital for mental health and designing. When it comes to evening, a nice cup of green tea is much needed. I take my mini sketchbook and start sketching from the scratch or just using my previous research. I finally end my day by watching a few episodes of Korean dramas (I have recently finished Doom At Your Service. I would 100% recommend it).
The best part of designing or just being part of this beautiful industry is perceiving the end result. The time and effort you spend on something and finishing it is the most rewarding part of the process. For me is a reward of success, it motivates me further to try and work harder; to be better than yesterday. When I post on my design Instagram, I love to see how people react to it. The idea that it’s being appreciated and loved by many people is very rewarding.
However, I believe everyone faces either small or big challenges. Sometimes I go through a designer block. This is where I mentally and physically cannot design or think creatively. When times like this occurs, I just fully stop myself from working and focus on getting better. To respond to this, I either take the day or the week off which will be the most effective solution to this problem.
Another challenge has been the pandemic. It started when I was just in my last year of university, because of the pandemic I could not stay at university and finish my collection. Most of the work was done at home and the facility I needed was not available. This also meant I was not able to take part in the graduate’s fashion show either. Due to the pandemic, I was not able to apply or find work at a design company. However, the negativity at one side, I took this time to focus on my Instagram, producing designs to put myself out there in the world. I believe this was a great idea, as it made me confident and have trust in the process.
My main aim right now is to look at the present and focus on what am working on. If I continue to work harder, I am sure the future will be bright for me. Like many designers, my aim for the future is just to show my talent and creativity to the world.
My biggest advice for young talents would be to never give up. Yes, the process will be hard, and the timing will be long, however, trust and believe in your skills.