Naeem Khan is an Indian-American fashion designer renowned for his ornate and intricately detailed gowns. His designs have been worn by celebrities such as Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Rachel McAdams, First Lady Michelle Obama, Queen Noor of Jordan, and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Naeem Khan recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. In this exclusive conversation, he shared his incredible journey to become one of most successful fashion designers in the industry.
Naeem Khan started his introductory remarks by sharing his incredible journey to become one of the most successful designers and said, “It’s been a very interesting journey. It has not been just a super smooth journey where you just become famous right from day one. I started from ground zero. I came to America in 1978 on the basis of going to school. My parents have a business in India where we make embroideries, so I grew up in that business in India and through embroideries, I learned about how to create beautiful things by hand because I used to watch my grandfather and my father make them. My father was expanding his business, he was coming to America for an appointment with some designers and I was coming here to get admission to the school. It happened to be luck And God be with me, I was offered a job to work for this very famous designer called Halston, who was at that time, the biggest designer, not only in the sense of the visibility of who he designed for, but he had the most successful business, it was a billion-dollar business. So for me to be part of a business like this and to learn from the master himself to be his right hand and coming from India, where you grew up with having a guru and the guru asks you for your right thumb, you get it. I grew up with that philosophy and for me, whatever it took I dedicated my life to fashion.”
When asked how it feels to be a fashion icon in India, he said, “It feels great, but I do feel that I need to get back. I need to do certain things more for India, that I have actually not paid attention to. Because living in America and running a business, it becomes very hard to focus yourself into. About being an icon, I don’t know, but I do love what I do and to me, I have always followed my passion with every cell in my body. I have spent every moment, from morning noon and night, I wake up thinking of fashion, I sleep thinking Fashion. To me, it’s my soul and to be Indian, it’s like giving back to India. I’m working on projects in America, where education is a big part of it. I’ve just written a book, a table book, which has come out in January and is available on Amazon. I want to do more and I want to pay attention to education and fashion is a big part of everyone’s life. India is poised to become one of the biggest fashion countries in the world. Because we have style and all the necessary elements to make the most beautiful things”
When it comes to the development of the Indian fashion industry, Naeem described, “My grandfather, who was the pioneer of embroideries in his days was the chairman of the entire Indian Embroidery Union. I grew up with amazing men who gave their lives for the craft. And I saw the beauty in what we do. To me, I carry the burden and the thing in my heart that I cannot let my grandfather and my father down because we are masters of that field of textile making in India. I take the core, that’s my core, and I modernize it to the new woman of today. In the 1930s, and 1920s, when my grandfather was making these beautiful things, it’s the same, it’s you who take that craft, and if you change it to your aesthetics for the modern woman of today, it’s all very relevant. You can say yes, India makes things which are different but that’s catering to that lifestyle in India. And I think that Indian fashion is also changing. We need to just tweak that like what I did for America and it could all relate to India for the new generation. India for me is the core of my fashion life. And whatever I do, India 100% is in it is and just that it’s a tribute to the women of today.”
Speaking about his plan to expand his business in India, the designer said, “I would love to be part of India, but India is something that you have to have a partner with. I haven’t found the right partnership in India to do what I do. This could be apart from beautiful prints that we do, to the embroideries that we do, to different lifestyle things that we do in the house or any of the other products that we are working on cosmetics for example. So hopefully we’ll find the right partner but it is my dream and my intention to be part of India very very soon. But coming soon, I would say”