Malaysia-born designer makes presence felt in London
The fashion industry is not an easy one to make your mark in, more so in London, one of the style capitals of the world.
Despite the competition, Malaysia-born Tanya Steven and her London-based label AHNDE (pronounced “and”) piqued the interest of fashion critics with her debut collection last year.
Steven’s venture into the fashion industry started a little more than a year ago. She was then in her mid-20s and had just completed her Master’s in Biochemical Engineering.
While waiting to be interviewed for a buying position for Chanel in Shanghai, she started entertaining the notion of creating something new on her own instead. And in that short moment, she made up her mind to be her own boss.
“I never thought that I would be doing fashion. But I always knew I would end up doing something creative and I am quite an entrepreneurial person. So I pulled a team of people together and we just went for it,” she said.
After some six months of groundwork, Steven and her team zeroed in on creating patterns, conceptualising designs and getting fabric samples.
Following months of what Steven described as a “crazy period”, AHNDE made its debut at the London Fashion Week last September with its spring/summer 2014 collection. She will be launching her fall/winter collection this month.
She is currently the creative director of AHNDE.
Although she has always been a rather creative person, Steven acknowledged that her journey in the fashion industry has been one of trial and error.
“It is a challenging industry and it is a tough business. But there is always a solution,” she noted.
Steven’s busy days typically start at 7am and go on till late at night. Her days are spent working with her team in the studio, being in constant touch with her communications team and meeting with her clients and suppliers.
Closer to shows, she starts as early as 5am and might be in her studio till 2am.
But her long hours are rewarded with her clients’ satisfaction with her pieces. She absolutely enjoys realising ideas and hopes to grow in what she is doing.
Steven describes her collections as simple and beautiful pieces made with luxurious fabric and accessories. She draws inspiration from anything and everything.
“I’m an idea person. I love art in all its forms. And I love the idea of wearing an idea. Fashion is a form of expression and about how you portray yourself,” she said.
AHNDE is a niche brand but it is not unreachable. And Steven hopes to grow the brand’s exposure with the launch of her e-store soon.
“It is always exciting when you start a new venture. But we need to keep growing and I want to keep building AHNDE,” she said enthusiastically.
She hopes to move into her own brick and mortar space two to three years from now, which is an achievement for most designers. She envisions a gallery space where customers will be able to experience the brand in its totality.
“You need to be prepared to work hard and you have to be resilient to survive in this industry. Believe in yourself and your team and in the ideas you have. Know the worth of your creation,” said Steven, who proudly wears her own collection for any event possible.
She is ready for the next challenge that will come her way and is confident she will get to where she dreams of.
“We have never thought that we are not going to make it,” said the very focused and determined woman.