Fashion designer Neil Malhotra studied at prestigious Italian fashion school, Istituto Marangoni in both Milan and London before moving back to Manchester to work for family business Forever Unique. This year, Malhotra and business partner Garen are set to launch their own contemporary label, AZAT MARD in August.
A quick summary of your career and education?
I was lucky enough to study at prestigious Italian fashion school, Istituto Marangoni in both Milan and London. I was taught by some of the very best lecturers who had worked for the likes of Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani. After graduating I moved back to Manchester to work for the family business – a women’s fashion label called Forever Unique. I met my business partner Garen a few months later and we found that we both had a passion for menswear and that we also wanted to try our hand at having our own contemporary label. Fast-forward eighteen months and we are set to launch in August this year.
What’s your most significant accomplishment to date?
For me it has to be seeing our very first collection positioned alongside established brands such as D Squared and Givenchy in independent menswear boutiques and franchises across the UK. It’s a hugely exciting time for us.
Who inspires you?
My dad, Sandeep is a real inspiration to me. Just seeing what he has achieved – from being a glorified market trader to where Forever Unique is now – and his plans for the future are extremely inspiring at this stage in my own career.
How has living and working in Manchester helped you achieve your goals?
It has been great to have familiar surroundings and family support at this
hugely important time for the business. It has definitely kept us focussed from the distractions of London. Manchester has a very strong demographic of fashion brands and there’s a lot of competition – there has always been a vibrancy, knowledge and energy in the city. For the AZAT MARD business, it does mean we have to be on our A-game and think outside the box.
What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Make the effort to network as much as possible. Take every opportunity when it arises, as you never quite know who you might meet and who can potentially help you in the future.
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What are your goals of 2019?
Our goals are to firstly launch the online website and have that must-have shop-able platform. Of course, we also need to gain a solid customer base and will be hosting a couple press events to launch the business in both Manchester and London.
Where do you see yourself in twenty years’ time?
I hope that AZAT MARD will be an established brand name in the fashion industry. We want to build a community of dedicated fans and followers.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career so far?
Sticking to the plan – it’s so easy to come up with a million ideas which deviate from the vision we set out at the beginning. So the biggest challenge is staying on track.
One word that sums you up best?
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