Humeera Dar, graduate of University of East London, has a distinctive approach to her designs. Recognising her origins and culture through her designs, Humeera protests the injustices faced by Kashmiris through her work. Using her final collection to show solidarity with her Kashmiri heritage, aiming to start a positive discourse around the suffering, Humeera gives political and historical context to her work.
Now working at the University of East London in the Fashion and Textile Department arranging shows and exhibition for students, Humeera is beginning the creation and development of her own Menswear Label. After receiving several exciting job offers, Humeera is at an exciting stage in her career, all after not believing that her collection was good enough to be selected for the Best Of Show. Following her tutors confirmation that she had been selected, Humeera experienced a whirlwind of emotions. Here, we catch up with the emerging menswear designer to find out who inspired her to pursue fashion, why she explores political notions through her work and the change she would like to see in the industry.
Firstly, tell us about your time at Graduate Fashion Week!
My time at GFW was a mixture of excitement, nervousness and anticipation, it was a great experience. I was thrilled to be selected for GFW by the university and so to see my collection on the runway get the attention and media coverage it got was incredible. It hadn’t crossed my mind that the judges were at the show and then to be shortlisted for the Gala Awards was an amazing feeling of achievement. I couldn’t believe it and I asked my tutors to double check. After they had I burst into tears, it had been an emotion roller-coaster but I was so happy with the final product and outcome. It has given me the experiences and the vital foundation that I needed to start my career in the fashion industry.
How did studying at University of East London prepare you for working in the competitive fashion industry?
Studying at The University of East London showed me the reality of fashion design, understand how to explore, develop and cultivate a collection. I learnt about my own strengths in designing and developing which I found was draping my patterns and my sewing skills. I got a great insight into the fashion industries by working on live project. UEL helped me hone my skills and improve my weakness but most importantly make my designs come to life. In fashion there is the practical side but equally as important is the theory work that goes into your work. Most people only really see the end result and the time taken on the research and development of said designs often take a backseat. Both are needed for you to excel.
What have you been up to since graduating in June 2017?
I have had interviews with some big companies in the fashion world, which was great especially as one company had head hunted me after seeing my collection at Graduation Fashion Week. Inditex offered me a job as part of their creative team. The other company that approached me wanted me to design a menswear range for them. I am currently waiting for a contract to be drawn up by the latter company before starting on my next adventure in the world of fashion. This gives me a sense of industry validation, my creations are marketable and my ideas are wanted by big fashion houses. After graduating I have been working part-time at University of East London in the Fashion and Textile Department helping them arrange shows and exhibition for students. In addition I am working towards setting up my own brand of menswear.
Your graduate collection used various checked patterns and graphic prints influenced by the issue of Human Rights. What inspired you to choose this concept as a theme for your work?
The concept came naturally, as I am Kashmiri I wanted to look into to my Kashmiri heritage. Through my own experiences and social media I saw the exceptional beauty of my heritage but I also saw the injustices the Kashmiris have been suffering and are to this present day. I had to show my solidarity to their freedom and create awareness and hopefully start healthy discourse on the injustice taking place in the best way I knew how, through my collection.
As well as the problematic issue of human rights, what other current political activity do you feel is impacting or being caused by the fashion industry? What do you think this means for the future of the industry?
Other problematic issues that exist are child labour, low wages, health and safety in the work place, environmental degradation polluting waters and animal cruelty. Another current issue that has started to make waves in the fashion world is the sustainability of ethical fashion; more people want to see eco-friendly fabrics used in clothes. The #Whomademy trend is becoming more prevalent in clothing today. A trend that fashion retailers will have to follow so people are aware of where their clothes are from. In a market that is so trend-based seeing this being in-style is amazing and I hope trends that better the planet we live on, continues.
If you could choose one designer or brand to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
This hard question as along the way I have tried to find brands that speak to me, especially where I have grown up in the East London, I would say streetwear resonates with me. I have seen a lot of designers that bring out streetwear, but the designer I would collaborate with would be Criminal Damage.
Before completing your Fashion Design degree, you worked within a different industry, what encouraged you to take up fashion as a career?
Coming from a south Asian background my mother influenced my interest in fashion she used to make clothes, she made our clothes. She also worked as seamstress to luxury fashion brands. I would love the luxury fabrics she would use and seeing the clothes being made first hand sparked my interest.
Looking back on your university years, and your final collection, is there anything you would alter in retrospect?
I wish I was more in control of my emotions when going through the process of creating my collection. As you can imagine with the inspiration of my collection being Human Rights. Also the subject being so close to home it can take a lot out of a person. Equally it ensures that your heart and soul goes into you work as you are fighting for a cause that has personally effected you.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time?
I want have my own menswear brand which creates exciting new trends within the fashion world. I also want to give back, so as part of my plan for my own brand I want a percentage of my income to go to charitable causes. It’s important to not only highlight different cause but to also support them.
If you could give some advice to our graduates showcasing this year what would you say?
Enjoy the moment; it’s a great opportunity to meet people from different industries, creative’s and great opportunity to network. University gives you the chances to fulfil your potential, you and I both know we have it in us but it’s how we apply ourselves compared to others that make us stand out. You will make mistakes, but acknowledge them, correct them and move forward but don’t be disheartened because next time you will come back better. Being in university is going to be an evolution of your ideas into reality, so invest in yourself.
Interview by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins