Nasir Mazhar has only gone and opened a shop

Stocking style warriors of immense proportions.

From club to cat­walk, London’s his­to­ry of dress­ing up can be found in cul­tur­al touch­stones from Leigh Bowery’s cos­tumes to Galliano’s Les Incroy­ables grad­u­ate col­lec­tion.

Bou­tiques such as The House of Beau­ty and Cul­ture and World’s End have cham­pi­oned this young British tal­ent by offer­ing a plat­form for exper­i­men­ta­tion unavail­able at cor­po­rate retailers.

And now Lon­don design­er Nasir Mazhar is seek­ing to shun all things mass pro­duc­tion with Fan­tas­tic Toiles: a com­mu­ni­ty of alter­na­tive Lon­don design­ers whose voic­es aren’t being heard in the wider fash­ion industry. 

Set­ting his sights on bridg­ing the gap between design­ers, artists and con­sumers inter­est­ed in new ideas, the space – in London’s fash­ion­able For­est Gate – will become home to out­side-the-box tal­ents that refuse to conform.

Fea­tur­ing works by Max Allen, Ed Mar­ler, Claire Bar­row, Ed Cur­tis, Princess Julia, Naz­i­fa Begum and Skipdin, Fan­tas­tic Toiles cel­e­brates design­ers who cre­ate clothes, head­wear, zines and jew­ellery for the love of it rather than to gen­er­ate orders.

Fan­tas­tic Toiles is a dress­ing up box filled with rare odd­i­ties,” the gaffer told us. It’s a place for like mind­ed peo­ple to explore style and a call to arms for design­ers. I want to show an alle­giance with the design­ers, artists and clubs I feel are tru­ly at the heart and soul of Lon­don whilst help­ing cus­tomers to find some­thing real­ly amaz­ing to wear to the club!”

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Why was it impor­tant to you to launch Fan­tas­tic Toiles?

I want­ed to cre­ate a shop where you can come and find all sorts of weird and beau­ti­ful clothes and bits to dec­o­rate your­self in. I want to try and find a way for inde­pen­dent design­ers to show and sell their work where it suits them and their needs, so we can work to our own cre­ative rhythm rather than an indus­try sched­ule which is based around com­mer­cial sales. There are so many inter­est­ing design­ers around us that don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly do big col­lec­tions or sell whole­sale but are so imag­i­na­tive and mak­ing amaz­ing things. Fan­tas­tic Toiles is about offer­ing peo­ple some­thing alter­na­tive to what they get in most fash­ion boutiques.

What’s miss­ing from oth­er inde­pen­dent boutiques? 

A lot of bou­tiques feel so cor­po­rate; they’re miss­ing clothes with soul. Fan­tas­tic Toiles is about being fresh-off the sewing machine and onto the rack. One-offs most like­ly made by the design­ers themselves.

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Where did you find the artists and designers?

They are all peo­ple I know and admire. Friends, col­lab­o­ra­tors, stu­dents from CSM and West­min­ster col­lege and clubs and record labels that friends run. Past teach­ers of mine. It’s a wide mix.

What do they all have in common? 

They’re all rebels. They’re inde­pen­dent and pro­gres­sive thinkers. They don’t fol­low rules. They care about style and they are into craft. They are mak­ers. For me they are the heart and soul of Lon­don. The peo­ple at the clubs, run­ning the clubs, dress­ing the artists, col­lab­o­ra­tors work­ing togeth­er. They are all like mind­ed peo­ple that I have the utmost respect for because they do what they feel like doing. They are all leaders.

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What kind of stuff can peo­ple expect to find in the shop?

Orig­i­nal toiles, recy­cled and chopped togeth­er shirts, hand print­ed tights, a zine that’s cap­tured the incred­i­ble raw nasty ener­gy of Lon­don nightlife, beau­ti­ful hand-paint­ed water­colour tarot cards, foam sculp­tures, corsets, lots of tex­tiles, his­tor­i­cal head­wear, indus­tri­al jew­ellery, orig­i­nal art­works, cos­tumes… There’s loads of stuff.

How do you see it grow­ing in the future ?

The way I see it mov­ing for­ward for inde­pen­dent design­ers is design­er co-ops. Shops owned and run by design­ers. Bou­tiques are need­ed and do a real­ly good job of sell­ing you indus­try fash­ion but there needs to be a vari­ety of ways for design­ers to show and sell. Not every­one wants to pro­duce sea­son­al col­lec­tions sev­er­al times a year. We need vari­ety to suit the vari­ety of design­ers we have and we need to set exam­ples so young design­ers can see that there are oth­er options to just hav­ing a whole­sale busi­ness and show­ing at fash­ion week. Pow­er in num­bers is unstoppable.

Fan­tas­tic Toiles, a shop curat­ed by Nasir Mazar, opens Sat­ur­day 14 Sep­tem­ber at Rail­way Arch 434, Avenue Road, For­est Gate, Lon­don. It’s cash only. 


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