The Birmingham-born LFW designer discusses catwalks, collaborations and clubbing with Laura Jackson.
You recently teamed up with manufacturer and distributor Vaprio Stile for your spring 10 collection. How did that come about?
Vaprio Stile basically covers all the manufacturing and distribution duties for a designer so that they can concentrate on the inspiration and design side instead. It means you no longer have all the headaches of producing your own collection every season. Vaprio Stile was a brilliant choice because it has worked with some of the great fashion houses, including Givenchy and Emanuel Ungaro.
You’ve also done a tie-up with travel firm Kuoni. Can you tell us about that?
I have a two-way deal with Kuoni, which began last year, whereby it sponsors my shows, and I am now designing a range of holiday accessories that will be launched in January called K by Osman for its website. Kuoni wanted some amazing pieces that would complement holidaymakers’ trips, so I have included products such as scarves sourced in Nepal and finely crafted sandals. It’s a good tie-up for me as much of my design aesthetic is influenced by world travel.
How important is collaboration for you?
It is very important. It offers me different outlets for my design, and big firms can offer designers like myself such great support. I designed a range for young fashion chain Mango last spring and it was very supportive of me.
How did you embark upon a fashion career?
My mum was a dressmaker so I grew up around fashion. I would often match the brocades and threads at the haberdashers to the different materials, or buy the beading for the wedding dresses she used to make. Clothes making just comes naturally to me.
Did you go on to study fashion?
I actually dropped out of Central Saint Martins College. I was from quite a conservative upbringing so I just went wild and went out clubbing every night before deciding that maybe I’d like to work in the fashion industry after all. I joined Joseph in 2005, and then a former mentor of mine, Tom Singh [founder of New Look] offered me £5,000 to launch a collection and put on a show, and it grew from there.
What are the most important things to remember as an up-and-coming designer?
To discover and maintain a strong signature. Once you have this you can build upon it and try new things, but you want people to recognise when things are still your design. Beware of too many people trying to give you too much advice. They will always contradict one another so you have to stay true to yourself and know what you are trying to create.
How important is it for you to show at London Fashion Week?
LFW is an important marketing tool for me and it is much easier to promote your vision through a show than by any other means. You can really hammer home your message with a catwalk performance and you can get your product out to all the most important people in one hit.
Where is your favourite place? to shop?
I love Old Hat in Putney, south London, a men’s vintage store, and the Birmingham flea markets. And London’s Dover Street Market (pictured).
Who is the best-dressed celebrity?
I would love to dress Cate Blanchett. She is beautiful and so engaging on the screen – I used to be an usher in a theatre and I watched her star in the play Plenty every day for six weeks.
Which is your favourite fashion city?
I love so many cities, I can’t choose. Particular favourites are New Delhi, which is so inspirational, and also Tokyo (pictured) and Zanzibar.
Osman Yousefzada designs his own womenswear label