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My fashion life - Seema Malhotra

The founder of dress label Forever Unique started with an idea in a sketch book and has now dressed Miley Cyrus.

What inspired you to set up your own business?

I joined forces with my husband Sandeep and his fashion business Unique Collections after we got married, which helped me to establish myself within the industry - it had a core wholesale supply business that was well recognised already.

Have you always wanted to work in fashion?

As far back as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with it, creating crazy outfits from my wardrobe and taking inspiration from magazines. My bedroom paid homage to all the things I loved about fashion and inspired me throughout my youth, all the way through my university days.

Did you find it difficult to break into the industry?

Yes. It was very tough to find a break - especially living in Manchester where opportunities were limited. As fashion design was my forte, this was particularly tough and something I found hard to come to terms with.

How did you eventually get your break?

Initially I became deflated and turned to working in fashion retail. Working on the shop floor re-ignited my passion and gave me a new drive, helping me turn my focus onto creating a range that would cater for my taste and then to turn that into a commercial vision that could be sold to the mainstream. I was determined to put something out there that would satisfy my ambitions and set me off on the road to creating my first range for Forever Unique.

How has Forever Unique evolved since your first collection?

When we started in 2008 the garments were aimed at one particular type of customer - young, glamorous girls looking
for standout partywear, as well as the prom market. The collection is now much more rounded and gives a more complete look. It is aimed at a wider audience and we’ve branched out into ready-to-wear, plus-size, swimwear and will soon be launching a footwear range for spring 15. The range is so much more diverse now.

You exhibit Forever Unique at lots of trade shows. Which is your favourite?

Who’s Next in Paris, because it attracts such a diverse audience and allows me to gather vital feedback that I use when creating future collections - Forever Unique has a real emphasis on creating a collection that appeals to international consumers too.

What has been your career highlight?

Miley Cyrus wearing Forever Unique on the cover of Cosmopolitan, not only for the UK, but also the US, Italy and China editions.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

All aspects, from the production side - getting involved with the design team and creating range plans - to going on site visits with the manufacturers and sourcing fabrics in markets all over the world. I still like to be present in fit meetings and see things through to final sample stage. Some may say I should take a step back, but I love getting involved - it’s so interesting and I learn so much more when I’m so proactive.

Who do you admire in the industry?

Victoria Beckham. She is a fashion force to be reckoned with and each season her collection gets stronger - I love her sexy yet classic shapes. She must be one of the most photographed women, but has always kept her head down and
has proven she is not only a hard-working mother but also a great fashion designer.

Which is your favourite brand?

I absolutely love Roberto Cavalli and everything about his designs, the bold animal prints and colour used on glamorous shapes. His decadent lifestyle is translated through his designs.

Where do you do most of your clothes shopping?

Forever Unique of course, but when I don’t shop there I love Zara as it’s great value for money and always on trend, even though I don’t feel very unique wearing it as you are always guaranteed to see someone in the same outfit. I also love Net-a-Porter, as I don’t always have time to go out shopping.

What’s your favourite dress from Forever Unique?

The Buffy dress from the autumn 14 collection

The Buffy dress from the autumn 14 collection

It has to be the Buffy dress (near left) from the autumn 14 collection. A chic monochrome dress with a dropped hem, it really flatters a curvy shape. I wore it to a polo event in Cheshire last week and received lots of great comments.

Where did the name Forever Unique come from?

It’s something I always try to be in general, it’s a motto. I would use it on everything and it was something I would constantly write on the front of my sketch books. When I finally finished the first collection and needed to come up with a brand name, Forever Unique was the first thing that sprung to mind. I wanted to create designs and a brand that were truly unique and portrayed a unique lifestyle, so Forever Unique felt like the perfect fit.

What’s the most unique thing about you?

My attitude. I’m a positive person, I love to smile, feel happy and love to make people laugh. In a nutshell I am Forever Unique.

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