Designer in the Spotlight
- Meet Uzma Bozai -
A fusion of inspirations from the East to the West, traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design, Uzma Bozai's relaxed, tailored collections are for the sartorially creative women - one who is assertive in her aspirations, nomadic in her lifestyle, and tasteful in her ever-exceptional styling. Giovanna had the chance to speak with Uzma about her eponymous label and the future of eco-fashion.
(Founder, Uzma Bozai)
Giovanna Eastwood: How was your collection started? What drew you to combining a mix of eastern craftsmanship with a contemporary western feel?
Uzma Bozai: My grandmother loved textiles and introduced me to the art of hand embroidering. I spent childhood summers hearing stories and observing techniques like zardozi and ari that have been passed on from Mughal times. These stories stayed with me and many years layer dispirited by the growing trend for faster fashion I was intent on finding a way to preserve these ancient crafts. The contemporary aspects of the collection have been influenced by my early years growing up in New York in the Iconic 90s. The preppy-tailored cuts and the print-driven graphics of downtown NYC sparked the minimalist silhouettes and bold prints that have become our signatures.
GE: What were the challenges from starting up your own business in a sustainable way?
UB: The high street! As an independent label we are producing handmade pieces in small quantities ensuring our makers are paid fair wages and our weavers have one of a kind items that will last for years. Mass market brands and mass market retailers with rock bottom prices and a huge high street presence continue to be a challenge for independents.
GE: Describe the ethical aspects of your brand
UB: Reinvigorating ancient techniques - The long term vision of Uzma Bozai is to work with the right suppliers who facilitate the passing of techniques from generation to generation
Economically viable for all - ensuring the artisans we work with are paid a fair price whilst still being attractive to the customer.
Safeguarding social rights of workers - we work with a family run supplier that ensures equal employment rights and safe working conditions for its workers.
Transparent - All production is traceable, including CMT, dyeing and printing.
(Left: An artisan using traditional hand beading technique. Centre: Uzma with her artisans. Right: Model wears Hand embroidered Bibi shorts)
GE: Describe UB in three words
UB: Free spirited, effortless and vibrant!
GE: Your S/S16 collection has more of a young, modern feel. Is this due to more young people being eco-conscious?
UB: Yes, younger consumers are more eco-savvy. We have a big following amongst 20 & 30 somethings and I also noticed that most of my target consumers were either boho warriors or sports luxe babes, Poppy or Cara's, Kate Moss' or Rita Ora's. I wanted to merge the two aesthetics together to create the perfect brand to take you from stomping London streets to dancing around Coachella fields. SS16's Sports boho luxe was born.
GE: Where do you think eco-luxury fashion is heading within the industry and with the consumer?
UB: Consumers are asking a lot more questions which is a great start to making more conscious style choices. When we first started 4 years ago, no one liked using the words eco or sustainable fashion, but now it's a badge of honour, let's keep it up!
GE: Do you have any examples of how people purchasing your pieces have changes the lives of artisans?
UB: Every Uzma Bozai piece is hand made by artisans who have learnt their crafts from the generations before them. every purchase helps preserve these ancient crafts for generations to come.
GE: Which are your favourite pieces from your collections? How would you style them up (or down)?
UB: The Yoko Mini Tennis Dress studded with multi-coloured pom poms will be my summer staple, it's smart enough for the office and paired with trainers perfect for weekend brunches. Also, the White Cotton Tabby Dress embellished with mirrors and crochet details is my holiday take away, styled with our gladiator sandals or with wedges for summer parties. Finally, Winni our reversible cotton quilted coat, hot orange on one side and pink on the other depending on my mood! For cooler spring days, I love it dressed down with my boyfriend jeans, our White Apti Tee and white trainers, and on summer nights with our dusty pink linen shirt dress.
(Top left: White Apti Tee. Top right: White Cotton Tabby Dress. Bottom Left: Yoko Mini Tennis Dress. Bottom Right: Winni Reversible Coat)
GE: Anything exciting coming up for UB this year?
UB: We are launching a Mini Bozai range of sustainable children's clothes. The Mini Bozai personalised bomber jacket is available to pre-order now for the IT girl in your life...