Nabila: From The Heart Of California

Photo: Courtesy of  Nabila  | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Photo: Courtesy of Nabila | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

This summer seems to be holding a lot of stylish surprises for us. Brace yourselves for Nabila, the California-based womenswear brand that has already stood out even before its launch. They have just revealed their debut collection and blessed us with novel and dashing designs. We can't help but be excited and anticipate a powerful launch. With Nabila, summer 2019 is off to a good start.

The eponymous brand founded by Nabila Kothawala caught our eyes since it's certainly not the ordinary brand. What's so unique about the fashion designer Nabila is that her works are all influenced by Pakistani fashion. Not only does she get her inspiration from Pakistani heritage but she derive ideas from the freshest Pakistani fashion trends. The brand Nabila came to life as an embodiment of Pakistani heritage in elegant garments with a modern twist. Nabila aims to dress the modern lady and give her clothes that she can flaunt gracefully. Nabila works to create a piece that unleashes confidence and femininity, all while celebrating Pakistani dress and culture.

Photo: Courtesy of  Nabila  | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Photo: Courtesy of Nabila | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Nabila Kothawala, a California girl with Pakistani roots, found her way into fashion rather unconventionally. Nabila's love for fashion wasn't an inherent liking but more of a late revelation. In fact, experimenting with highschool uniforms and watching Gossip Girl were the keys that first opened up her interest in fashion. That experience filled Nabila with confidence, empowered her, and awakened her passion. "Through this, I realized the power fashion has on someone and that's when I started to get out of my comfort zone," Nabila told us about her experience with fashion. Soon enough Nabila was inevitably drawn into the fashion world and let her passion grow. Having no educational background in fashion didn't stop her from doing what she loves. 

Photo: Courtesy of  Nabila  | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Photo: Courtesy of Nabila | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Launching this summer, Nabila promises us a fruitful future with her dazzling debut FW2019 collection. Bringing together timeless Pakistani style along with a modern vibe creates sleek and tasteful look. The recently revealed collection pleased our senses with original silhouettes accentuating femininity and showed colors that speak confidence. Nabila's signature creation, the Riwayat jacket, is inspired by Pakistani men's traditional dress the Sherwani. Nabila took the famed male jacket, turned it into an utterly feminine and elegant look, and showed us she never fears being different. With genuine and captivating designs, Nabila proved her brand visionary. Dressing in Nabila will doubtlessly make you stand out. Since we're astonished at such a promising brand, we couldn't help but talk to Nabila and ask her more about her graceful first steps into fashion designing.

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Tell us more about your background as a designer. I graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree psychology, along with a minor in marketing, so I didn't have an education background in design. This whole process has become my experience, and every day has become a new lesson. The designing process alone has so many stages before it even gets to the first sample piece and after there continues to be even more stages, outside of just design. Every day there’s a new takeaway, and some days, there are road bumps, but it has helped me grow and learned to appreciate the design process and fashion even more.

What sparked your interest in fashion? My interest in fashion sparked at a later age. I was more on the tomboy side and quite shy, growing up. Gossip Girl was a television show that I think played a part in sparking my interest in fashion. I went to a private school in which I had to wear a uniform every day, the show and its characters inspired me to experiment a lot with that uniform. Once experimenting, I realized how much more confident I felt and even overcame my shyness. Through this, I realized the power fashion has on someone and that’s when I started to come out of my comfort zone developing this love for style and not afraid to be different.

Photo: Courtesy of  Nabila  | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Photo: Courtesy of Nabila | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work? People. I’m always fascinated by the people around me, especially my family and friends. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by strong, inspiring, and encouraging people who have influenced not only my work itself but the courage to start the brand.

How do influences from outside of California find their way into your work? My travels, outside of California, have brought in a lot of influences. I love visiting places such as Dubai because I think the Middle East has a lot of well curated stores that display such glamour and modesty, which is such a contrast to the casual and streetwear style I’m surrounded by in LA.

Photo: Courtesy of  Nabila  | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Photo: Courtesy of Nabila | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

What was the biggest inspiration behind your debut collection? My roots. I grew up in Los Angeles but come from a Pakistani background and visit Karachi yearly. I love Pakistani clothing, and the craftsmanship is so exquisite and detailed. My inspiration is drawn out from this eastern wear, especially in fabric and color choices. I wanted to reinvent traditional pieces but make them for the modern woman living anywhere in the world. Not only has the style of clothing been of influence, but I continue to follow trends from there and incorporate it into the pieces. Pakistani fashion is the biggest inspiration for this collection and will continue to be throughout.

Do you have a most treasured item in your debut collection? The Riwayat, meaning tradition, jacket would have to be my most treasured item because it’s the first item that I designed for the collection. It’s inspired by a sherwani which is a men’s traditional jacket. I shortened the collar and made it cropped to give it a more feminine style. I love playing around with American menswear, so I wanted to develop a way to incorporate Pakistani menswear for women but still look feminine and cool.

Photo: Courtesy of  Nabila  | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Photo: Courtesy of Nabila | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

What makes your brand stand out? I think it’s approach on western wear but taking influence from not only eastern styles but trends makes the brand stand out. It’s not another fusion line but rather a celebration of Pakistani fashion.

I’ve kept my Pakistani tradition alive, reflecting on my roots and upbringing, through the vehicle of fashion. This has paved the way to create a line for the modern woman, but with a twist.
— Nabila

How do you want women to feel when wearing Nabila? I want women to feel feminine and edgy. But most importantly, I want them to feel confident.

Photo: Courtesy of  Nabila  | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Photo: Courtesy of Nabila | Photography: Cibelle Levi | Model: Maryam Zolghadr

Who inspires you the most in fashion? Anyone who stands out? Raf Simons. He has an untraditional and modern approach to fashion and isn’t afraid of challenging norms, creating unique pieces.

Are there certain goals that you would like to achieve for your brand by the end of this year? I’m hoping to gain exposure by the end of the year, not just locally but globally.

Where do you see Nabila in five years time?Hopefully, the brand will have grown and maintained the original inspiration. But most importantly, be a part of making woman feel confident.


Exclusive Grail Content Youmna Halawa, Senior Editor