There are countless Asian bridalwear boutiques across the country, but few can lay claim to designing their collections from scratch. Raishma Islam is one of the few.
The head designer and CEO of the eponymous couture label keeps a watchful eye over all her designs, from creation to catwalk. The wildly successful brand is among the most established Asian couturiers in the UK, with collections shown at prominent fashion events every season.
Brides (and celebrities such as Mel B and Jasmin Walia) have coveted Raishma designs for over a decade, but the company doesn’t rest on its laurels. We met with Raishma, named one of the entrepreneurs to watch by Asian Wealth Magazine, to discuss the label and its bridal offering.
Tell us about your new store
We’ve moved into a larger boutique in East Shopping Centre. The centre is a hub for British Asian Fashion and the first of its kind in Europe, so we’re proud to be part of this dynamic shopping destination. It’s the perfect location for our ready-to-wear and bridal collections.
What do your bridal collections offer?
Gowns are in fashion now, but it's a style Raishma has championed for years. We create bespoke bridal gowns with an even balance of beading and styling, favouring minimalism where possible to ensure the pieces look timeless. They’re easy to wear and adaptable enough to wear again for special occasions in the future. I still love creating unique fusion pieces. It’s what launched Raishma into the public eye 15 years ago, but we now create traditional Pakistani and Indian outfits as well.
What can brides expect when they walk through your doors?
Bespoke design and faultless attention to detail. We design original pieces and create a toile (a cotton mock-up of the dress) for the first fitting as well as embroidery sampling. We take the time to discuss all aspects of the design before creating the bridal outfit. The client has up to three fittings to ensure a perfect fit before we give it a final steaming.
How hands-on are you with designing?
I’m there for all our bridal, evening, ready-to-wear and resort collections. It’s the best part of the job!
What inspires your collections?
British and international fashion forecasts, as well as the wider world. It could be a mood, a colour, and embroidery swatch or places I visit. A recent trip to Granada inspired my SS16 collection shown at Indian Fashion Week London in October 2015.
What’s on the horizon for Raishma?
The goal is to be the number one online ready-to-wear store for British Asian fashion within the next five years. We’ll be at Doha Fashion Week in December 2015 showing our made-to-order service of exclusive eveningwear and in February, we’ll be at London Fashion Week for the very first time.
What does Raishma offer wedding guests?
Our focus online and at our new boutique has been on ready-to-wear. We have a range of affordable Asian suits, evening gowns and saris. We also have stunning separates including kaftans and tunics, perfect for wedding guests and party wear in general. We still continue our made-to-order eveningwear service.
And what about the grooms?
We create groom’s menswear to coordinate with the bridal gowns. Our cut and fit is far superior to the standard sherwanis available currently. We can design unique styles, fusion or traditional. As with the bridal commissions, we sample all embroideries before making.
What sets Raishma apart?
We design original pieces and our collections are in demand internationally and in the mainstream. There’s no danger of seeing someone else in the same gown. And our exclusive clientele means you’re not one of hundreds – you can expect a bespoke experience at Raishma.
Your website is very impressive, are most of your sales online?
A fair amount of sales originate through the website. We’re very proud of our online offering and just won Best Online Business 2015 at the English Asian Awards 2015.
With a slick website offering everything from trouser suits, kaftans, anarkali and churidar suits and cocktail dresses at the click of a mouse, Raishma is the designer of choice for lovers of luxury, high fashion and style.
Ready-to-wear pieces include chic office dresses, taking you effortlessly from desk to dancefloor, while tunic tops and kaftans are ideal for packing as part of your honeymoon wardrobe. There’s also a line of sequin-strewn evening clutches and handbags to mix and match across the occasion and ready-to-wear collections, adding to the versatility of the pieces.